What an exciting week here at the Capitol. The committee process is humming along, and many bills are starting to take shape as we continue the first month of session.
On Wednesday I participated in a press conference with the other members of the Governor's Task Force on Child Protection to unveil our legislation to make improvements to Minnesota's child protection laws. I'm proud of the bipartisan proposals we've put forward, the first steps in making sure we are doing all we can to protect Minnesota kids, and reduce and hopefully one day eliminate deaths in Minnesota from child abuse.
The two bills which are identical and moving simultaneously through the House and Senate would repeal the current law preventing the use of screened-out reports to help guide screening decisions, giving case workers and authorities a full picture and historical information as they consider abuse reports. Reports would be required to be sent to law enforcement, ensuring additional accountability for reports of abuse or maltreatment.
The bills will propose to list child safety as the paramount consideration for decision making, and would require the commissioner of Human Services to develop and immediately implement guidelines for screening to be followed by all county and state officials involved in child protection efforts. The commissioner would also be tasked with producing an annual report on screening effectiveness to be presented to the legislature.
The bill also makes changes to child protection report record-keeping, putting child protection reports under the same guidelines as welfare, court services, and school records under state law, and would require that records be kept for five years, compared to the one year required under current law.
These are just the first round of proposals that are a result of the recommendations from the Governor's Task Force. This is a sensitive, complex issue that has fortunately rallied lawmakers, state officials, and experts from all parts of the state together in a common goal. We must do a better job of protecting our most precious and vulnerable resource: our children.
Our bill passed unanimously out of the Health and Human Services Reform Committee this week, and will continue making its way through the process in the coming weeks as it goes to the different required committees. I will keep you updated on its progress.
Child Protection Task Force Coming to Little Falls
Next Friday, January 30th the Child Protection Task Force will be holding its meeting right in Little Falls. The meeting starts at 11:00AM and will take place at The Initiative Foundation at 405 1st Street SE.
The public is welcome to attend. The Task Force is continuing to gather input from across the state on ways to make further improvements, and bringing the Task Force to other parts of the state will help us get additional input we may not have received if we only held hearings in Saint Paul.
Jobs Bill Hearing
Yesterday I presented House File 1, our jobs bill to the Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy Committee. This informational hearing gave legislators more information about the bill, which aims to grow better-paying jobs in the parts of the state that need it most. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues to improve the bill as it moves through the committee process, and doing what we can to encourage job growth in fields that help Minnesotans support their families.
As always, my door is open, and I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Your emails and phone calls are what help guide my work here at Saint Paul so I can continue doing what I can to best represent our community.
Have a great weekend. Enjoy the warmer weather, but be careful as the melting snow and drizzle may cause some slippery roads as temperatures drop in the evening.