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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nels Pierson (R)

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Legislative Update (April 29, 2016)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Neighbors,

We’ve been staying busy at the Capitol, and I wanted to update you on a couple of the big bills we passed this week.

Assisting Farmers

On Wednesday, we passed a bill containing all of our agriculture provisions for this session. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I understand how important it is to protect our livestock. The bill we passed funds an emergency account to help protect against animal diseases and other emergencies. It also invests in a system to better track and predict future diseases in farm animals. These provisions will shield our agriculture workers from these devastating episodes.

This omnibus bill also establishes a new farm safety program relating to tractor rollover protection systems. Our proposal creates a voluntary program to help combat tractor rollovers which are the number one cause of farm deaths. Creating safer processes for this sometimes-dangerous profession is paramount. Our area – and southern Minnesota as a whole – is home to a rich tradition of agriculture, and I’m proud to support these bills to help our farmers.

Health and Human Services

Yesterday, we voted on and passed our health and human services proposal. One of the provisions I authored provided $394,000 next year for the Zumbro Valley Health Center so they can continue their integrated behavioral healthcare coordination pilot project. This program helps those seeking mental health treatment to also address other healthcare needs without going to a different facility. Through this program, patients receive improved care, and the state saves money in avoiding emergency room visits. This is an extension until the Center can apply for federal dollars to continue this initiative.

Another one of my bills, HF3414, was included in the larger HHS bill. My legislation provides funding to community organizations working with individuals struggling with substance abuse. This isn’t just a problem in the Twin Cities or in Rochester, addiction is a statewide issue we must address.

Education Provision

There’s no question higher education costs are skyrocketing and becoming even more unaffordable to many in our area and our state. The question becomes, what can we do to ease this burden and make college more accessible to all Minnesotans? This week, the Minnesota House passed -- with wide bipartisan support -- an education omnibus bill to open up higher education to more students around the state.

I’m proud to author one of the provisions contained in this bill. My legislation invests money to help high school teachers gain the credits and certification necessary to teach an accredited college course in our local schools. Currently, many of the “concurrent enrollment” courses require an instructor with a master’s degree in the subject area. My bills expands concurrent enrollment funding to include reimbursement of up to 18 credits of graduate classes for the teacher to become qualified.

What does this mean for our schools? If we can incentivize more educators to gain the concurrent enrollment qualifications, districts may be more apt to offer these for-credit, college classes in high school. This will let students take higher education courses free of charge, lowering their future cost of college.

Please Contact Me

With just weeks left of session, I’d encourage you to contact me with any ideas, questions, or suggestions. I would love to hear your opinion on any issue that’s important to you. You can reach me at (651) 296-4378 or