It has been a busy last couple weeks at the Capitol. Here is an update from St. Paul.
Improving County Road 136
This week in the Capital Investment Committee, my legislation to fund the improvement of County Highway 136 in front of Oak Hill Elementary School was presented. I am requesting $1.4 million to reconstruct the streets and sidewalk along the route.
This is not only an improvement project for that stretch of road, but also about improving the safety of the area for kids going to and from school each day. I also want to thank St. Cloud city engineer Steve Foss for coming down to the Capitol to testify before the committee on behalf of my legislation.
Ka Joog Legislation
This week in the Jobs Committee, my legislation to develop a pilot program with Ka Joog, a group that works with Somali youth, was heard. The new program would help Somali youth build job skills and acquire internships and mentorships in both the private and public sector.
Additionally, the bill would also fund the expansion of Ka Joog's Takeoff 4-H STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Club which partners with the University of Minnesota to provide education opportunities in extracurricular programs.
The bill has bipartisan support, and I am pleased it's moving through the legislative process.
Many Minnesotans have been paying close attention to the REAL ID issue and what it will mean for people using their state-issued driver's license to board a domestic flight. Last week, the House and Senate passed legislation that partially repeals our state's 2009 ban on preparing for the implementation of REAL ID, and it was signed into law by Governor Dayton.
Now the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is in the process of preparing a report that will be delivered to the legislature in mid-April, detailing the costs and necessary legislative changes that will need to be made to fully implement REAL ID in Minnesota. From there, the House and Senate will pass a bill that will fully implement REAL ID in our state to ensure that Minnesotans can continue to travel without hindrance.
The ultimate goal is to have REAL ID-compliant drivers' licenses being issued by October of this year so that Minnesotans can receive a REAL ID by just renewing their license on the regular four-year renewal cycle.
I will keep you updated on this issue as it moves through the legislative process. I look forward to resolving this issue this year.
St. Cloud Preschool Pilot Program
On Wednesday, the House Education Finance Committee heard legislation I am co-authoring that would fund a preschool pilot program in St. Cloud for low-income students and English language learners.
The bill which was brought forward by School District 742 would provide for $430,000 in funding to be used for creating morning and afternoon preschool sections at three elementary schools. The money appropriated would be used to purchase instruction and curriculum materials, hire and train teachers and staff, and help offset transportation costs.
Most importantly, the funding for this program would help reach kids most in need and benefit many families in our community.
MNsure Complaint Website
Many Minnesotans are frustrated with MNsure's continued failures and incompetence. State taxpayers have invested $300 million in a bloated bureaucracy that struggles to meet even basic requirements like mailing out 1095-A tax forms on time.
To hold MNsure accountable and to gather feedback from Minnesotans across our state about their experiences with our health care exchange, the House State Government Finance Committee launched a website last week to gather input from people affected by MNsure.
If you have had a problem with MNsure, I encourage you to go to the website and share your story here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cmte/comment
Child Care Shortage in Minnesota
Serving on the newly formed Select Committee on Affordable Child Care has given me the opportunity to learn more about how the child care provider shortage in Greater Minnesota is affecting families and providers. I want to thank everyone who has contacted me about this issue. Your stories and input about what we can do to improve the situation in our state is invaluable and helpful as we begin crafting both short and long-term solutions to address the problem.
You can also read a recent story in the St. Cloud Times that talks more about the shortage of affordable child care in Central Minnesota.
If you have concerns, questions or suggestions regarding child care or any other topic related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I am here to serve you!
It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol.