This week I chief-authored legislation that addresses Highway 14 and recognizes the need to complete a long overdue road construction project.
The bill appropriates nearly $183 million in trunk highway bonds to create four-lanes of traffic on the remaining stretch of Highway 14 from the railroad tracks in Steele County to Dodge Center.
You’ll recall last session the House included my provision in its bonding bill that would have dedicated $40 million to the same stretch of roadway. The difference is that proposal would have completed the next phase of the project, which was only a portion of Highway 14. This bill would finish off the entire 13-mile segment where only two lanes can be utilized.
An improved Highway 14 is so critical to our region. Not only is it a good way to help with commerce flow – whether it’s bringing crops to market or goods to communities – but it better ensures the safety for the thousands of drivers who use the road every day.
As everyone knows, Highway 14 has been expanding to four lanes in Minnesota for more than 40 years. It’s time to finish the job, and I’m hopeful this bill will make that happen.
On January 26, the Minnesota House approved a compromise proposal crafted by House and Senate negotiators that addresses health care emergency aid and access.
The plan will offset the cost of premiums by 25 percent for qualifying enrollees who purchase health care coverage in the individual market this year. It will also bring some access, competition, and transparency to the system in numerous ways, such as allowing for-profit HMO’s to enter the marketplace, providing 120 day continuity of care for critical healthcare cases, ordering an audit to determine how the proposal is working, and instituting agricultural cooperative health plans, which allow organizations with member owners – such as farm cooperatives – to provide health insurance to their members.
Governor Dayton has signed the bill into law, which is wonderful news. Look for more health care reform proposals to move forward in the Minnesota House in the weeks ahead.
Finally, I also wanted to remind you that only days remain for individuals and households to apply for federal disaster assistance under FEMA’s individual assistance program. These federal grants and loans were made available to Waseca, Steele and Rice county residents who suffered storm damage to their homes in late September.
If you suffered damage but have not applied for FEMA funds, you are asked to register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3360 (FEMA). The deadline is January 30.
Once the deadline passes, individuals and households that have registered with FEMA, exhausted federal grants, and/or have been denied a loan from Small Business Administration (SBA),