We've reached the first committee deadline, the end of a long week of marathon committee hearings. Here are some updates from Saint Paul:
DHS Closing Delayed
On Monday I toured several mental health and public safety facilities with DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, as well as a number of other state and local public safety and health officials. We learned on Monday that DHS has decided to delay closing of the Willmar facilities for six months. This is great news for mental health services in Willmar, and for the workers and families who are employed at those facilities.
We're not out of the woods yet, but I will continue working to find the best possible path forward to ensure we keep mental health services accessible in Willmar.
I've been hearing a great deal from farmers and the agriculture community about Governor Dayton's buffer strip proposal. Some quick thoughts:
-Farmers care about the environment and want to be good stewards of their land and waters. However, they have serious concerns about a one-size-fits-all 50 foot buffer around all waters.
-Many farmers have indicated that 16 foot buffers (current law) are enough near most waterways as long as they are properly maintained.
-I will continue to monitor the buffer proposal as session continues, and would only support a buffer bill if it treats farmers and land owners fairly.
One of my top priorities since coming to Saint Paul has been pushing for a comprehensive transportation plan that ensures the continues quality of our roads and bridges. I'm excited that on Monday, Republicans will unveil our comprehensive, 10-year plan that invests in roads and bridges without raising taxes and taking money out of your pocket. I will be sure to share details once they are released next week.
Health Care Bills
Today I was proud to vote in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee to advance House File 316, a bill that will dramatically reform the way nursing homes are reimbursed by the state. The average nursing home will see an average 25% increase in their reimbursement rates under this bipartisan proposal. These are the kind of real reforms that will make a difference for nursing home across the state.
I also broke with some members of my own party this week by voting against a bill in committee that would move residents who use MinnesotaCare, which helps provide health care to low-income residents, on to MNsure. I don't think it's the right move at this point for the MinnesotaCare program.
Thanks to Carolyn and the other nurses from the Minnesota Nurses Association for visiting the Capitol to discuss health care issues.
Coffee with Dave and Lyle
Sen. Koenen and I will be hosting another one of our "Coffee with Dave and Lyle" events tomorrow morning at 8:30AM in New London. The meeting will take place at McKale's Family Restaurant at 10 Ash Street NE. Come hear an update about what's going on in Saint Paul, and feel free to ask questions about the issues you're concerned about. Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 17B