Here is a quick update with less than 19 days left in 2017 regular session.
Between working as a public health attorney and serving on the health and human services committee, I naturally spend a lot of time working on health policy. One issue I have been working on for several years is combating the spread of false information about vaccines.
This week on the House Floor, my colleagues and I made a motion to provide enhanced funding to the Minnesota Department of Health to address the current measles outbreak. The bill we were hoping to discuss would have funded an immunization grant program for specific geographic areas and populations experiencing (or at risk of) an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Unfortunately, the House did not move forward on the procedural motion.
Measles is highly contagious and can lead to hospitalization and in rare cases death. Measles spreads through the air by coughing or sneezing. You can get measles by just being in the same room as someone who has measles.
Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash that typically spreads from head to the rest of the body. A person with measles can pass it to others from four days before their rash appears to four days after it appears.
For parents concerned about the cost of immunizations, the Minnesota Vaccines for Children Program provides free or low-cost vaccines for eligible children through age 18. More information is available at Can My Child Get Free or Low Cost Shots?
For more information on measles, updates on the outbreak and other important information, you can go to the Minnesota Department of Health website here. You can also find a Measles fact sheet translated into other languages here.
Joint Budget Targets
On Friday, the House and Senate Republican majorities set joint budget targets. These targets are an important step in final budget negotiations between the House, Senate, and Governor over the next 3 weeks. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the state has a budget surplus, their targets underfund E-12 and higher education, which would lead to cuts in the classroom and rising tuition. These cuts make way for massive spending in the tax bill, which gives tax cuts for corporations and the rich. We are working with Governor Dayton to achieve full and equitable funding for our schools, and to make investments in areas that keep Minnesota’s economy strong into the future.
We hope to reach a bipartisan compromise in the budget negotiations soon. House and Senate Republicans have done little to move toward the governor. Governor Dayton has provided legislative leaders with frequent input this legislative session, sending 55 letters and 179 pages of input from state agency commissioners outlining his priorities. Despite these clear guidelines, House and Senate Republicans have jammed their budget bills with controversial policy provisions including private school vouchers, the elimination of voluntary, free pre-K, and invalidating city actions that protect workers’ pay and benefits.
Considering the state has a healthy economy and a budget surplus, I’m hopeful we will find a budget compromise that works for everyone.
Please contact me if you have any questions about the final weeks of session.