This past week aquatic invasive species (AIS) was a hot topic with many people in the district. Thank you for the input on this important matter.
Several bills have been introduced on that subject so far. I agree that we need to continue to fund our local Lake Association lead effort to monitor our boat accesses for AIS. I do not support elimination of that program which is administered through our counties. With respect to the AIS sticker program on boat trailers, I do support eliminating that program for the following reasons. Most important not a penny of the $5 charge for the sticker goes to the DNR for enforcement, none goes to AIS related research or directly funds containment efforts that our Lake Associations currently conduct each year.
All of the $5 fee goes to the company distributing the sticker and maintaining the website for getting the sticker. Additionally, there is a host of enforcement and effectiveness issues with the program. The legislature and DNR have been working on a "sticker" program since 2011. We still haven't got it right, it's time stop that effort and refocus those resources on a more comprehensive public education program and advanced research that will lead to elimination or effective mitigation of aquatic invasive species. We cannot rely on a containment strategy alone and expect to win the war to keep our lakes and streams free of AIS.
I continue to work on the elder and disabled care issues. My bill (HF 515) allows redistribution of 129 nursing home beds that were lost in a fire at a Polk County nursing facility back in 1997. HF 515 advanced through the Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee this week. The number of nursing home beds allowed and their distribution within the state is a very complicated matter. The state is divided into regions with a set number of beds allowed for each region. In this case, 25 beds would remain on the books in Polk County for future use and the other 104 beds that were never replaced because they were not needed would be redistributed to other areas of the state where shortages exist. The goal here is make nursing home beds available where they are needed, that reduces the distance families have to travel to visit their loved ones that reside in nursing homes.
KKIN FM 94.3 has been kind enough to do a radio phone interview on Fridays at about 8:45 a.m. We did our first 15 minute radio interview last week. Please tune in on Friday mornings to get a quick update on what we are working on at the Capitol.
Thank you for all the emails, phone calls and letters. Also a special thanks to the many citizens that have been able to come to Saint Paul for a visit this week. Your council and advice is always welcome. It takes a team effort to solve the many challenges we face. Until next week, enjoy the warm weather!