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News from Rep. Dave Baker 02-13-2015

Friday, February 13, 2015
 
Dear Friends,
 
Some updates from this week in Saint Paul:
 
Jobs and Energy Committee Comes to Willmar
I want to say a big thank you to everyone who came to Monday's Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee hearing in Willmar. Minn-West was a tremendous host, and we had a great turnout in support of my bill to help make propane and natural gas more affordable and accessible in rural parts of the state. The bill passed the Jobs and Energy Committee and now moves to the Taxes Committee.
 
 
The West Central Tribune wrote a great recap of the meeting. To read their article, click here.
 
Meeting with DHS Commissioner Jesson
This week I had a sit down meeting with Department of Human Services (DHS) Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry to discuss the facility closings DHS has proposed in Willmar. I appreciated her willingness to discuss why I think mental health services in Willmar are important, and why Willmar should remain a regional leader in providing mental health services in our part of the state.
 
So far those I've talked to about this in the Governor's administration have promised to keep an open mind, and I plan to continue working with our county and city leaders, DHS, and the Governor to do what I can to prevent or alter the plans to close the mental health and chemical addiction facilities in Willmar.
 
Nursing Home Workforce Bill Passes Committee
My bill to boost nursing home and long-term care workforces passed unanimously out of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee earlier this week.
 
A few highlights of the bill:
-A loan forgiveness program for nurses
-Reimbursements for nursing homes who operate in under-served areas to train new employees
-Tuition reimbursements for nursing graduates and other health professionals who go into a long-term care field
-A long-term care grant program to assist in educating, training, and attracting new employees.
 
We have a real shortage of workers in long-term care in Minnesota, especially in the rural parts of our state. Our seniors deserve quality care, and recruiting and keeping quality workers is a very important step to help us deliver that.
 
Upcoming Events
This weekend is the Ski & Sleigh Festival at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer. If you're looking for a fun, cheap, family friendly Valentine's Day activity, the festival will have sleighs, chili, hot chocolate, and more.
 
Find out more at www.spicermn.com and click on the Winterfest 2015 schedule.
 
Have a great weekend, and don't hesitate to contact me about what's on your mind as session continues. You can reach me at rep.dave.baker@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-6206.

Dave Baker
State Representative, District 17B
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