Hello from the State Capitol,
It’s first deadline week at the State Capitol, as we are spending lots of time hearing dozens of bills a day in our House committees so they can meet the Friday deadline and continue their path through the legislative process during the remainder of session.
EVIDENCE BASED GRANT PROGRAM BILL MAKING PROGRESS
My evidence-based grant program bill, which I’m sponsoring in order to create a process to measure and report the effectiveness of pre-K – 12 Education grant programs funded by the legislature, will be included in a comprehensive policy proposal put forward by the Minnesota House K-12 Policy Committee.
Under this bill, each program that receives grant funding awarded by the Minnesota Department of Education must provide an educational goal; a summary of the strategies used to meet the goal, data collection process; and a short report summarizing the data and the effectiveness of the strategies in a report to the commissioner of education. The report would also be submitted to the majority and minority chairs of the education committees.
The bill would serve as a tool for legislative committees to help make better informed decisions when funding educational programs; encourage groups and organizations to think in a more evidence based way; and help determine the successful programs that should be duplicated throughout the state.
SENATE APPROVES REINSURANCE PLAN
This week the Minnesota Senate re-approved the successful Republican-led reinsurance program in Minnesota. The law helped lower the cost of health insurance for those purchasing plans on the individual market, as all five carriers on the individual market lowered premiums for 2019, with average rates dropping between 7.4 percent and 27.7 percent.
The legislation is currently stalled in the Minnesota House, though many Democrats who opposed this in the 2017 session now support it after seeing that it worked. This is a bit confusing to me, and it’s very unfortunate because the Legislature needs to have redetermination finished by early April for insurance carriers as they prepare to set premium rates for the year 2020.
VETERANS SUICIDE AWARENESS DAY LEGISLATION APPROVED IN HOUSE
By a unanimous vote, the Minnesota House has approved a bill that would designate the first Saturday of October as Veterans Suicide Awareness Day. During the debate we learned that veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than civilians, often times because they don’t seek the help they need. The bill now moves to the Senate for further debate.
It was a real pleasure to spend some time chatting with representatives from Field Crest Care Center of Hayfield who came up to the Capitol today to advocate for care centers and reforming elderly waiver funding. I greatly value learning about issues from those I call the “boots on the ground” people - local people who are actually directly involved with the subject. Thanks to Cheryl, Tonia and Ronda for stopping by!
Linda, Pam, and Teresa also visited this week to advocate for mental health services, specifically the Next Step Clubhouse in Albert Lea. Thank you for coming to visit!
Have a good weekend,