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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 9, 2019

Thursday, May 09, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
 
We’re headed into the days of the legislative session, with an adjournment date of May 20. I wanted to give an update on some of the major work we’ve accomplished at the State Capitol over the last couple of weeks.
 
 Health and Human Services

The Minnesota House has approved a new two-year Health and Human Services Budget. Our House DFL budget protects health care funding for low- and middle-income Minnesotans, strengthens oversight of HMOs, holds Big Pharma accountable and helps reduce prescription drug prices, and delivers direct discounts to consumers experiencing high premiums, rather than handouts to insurance companies. Chairing the House Long Term Care Division this session, I’ve worked with my colleagues, advocates, and families to strengthen elder care protections. These protections are included in the budget to stop abuse, assault, neglect and other maltreatment in Minnesota’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
 
Unfortunately, the Senate’s version goes the wrong direction, letting funding for the Health Care Access Fund expire, cutting dental and vision services for low-income Minnesotans, and gutting investments in affordable child care. While Minnesotans deserve an honest budget, the Senate is using accounting gimmicks and shifts to the tune of $470 million.
 
I’m honored to have been appointed to a Conference Committee with other members of the House and Senate to work toward a compromise version of the budget. I’ll be committed to ensuring all Minnesotans can access the high-quality, affordable health care they deserve.
 
More information is available on this fact sheet.
 
E-12 Education

All children deserve a world-class education, no matter where they live or what they look like. That’s why our budget invests in every student in every public school. Our budget increases the per-pupil funding formula by an average of 3% in the first year and by another 2% in the second year of the biennium. For Duluth Public Schools, this will mean an additional $3.06 million in the first year and an additional $2.6 million in the second year. The bill also includes additional special education funding for Duluth to address the federal government’s failure to meet its commitment in this area.
 
We know that our kids start learning long before kindergarten — and that Minnesota suffers from one of the largest achievement gaps in the country. We’re investing in our youngest learners to make sure every child gets off to a great start. Our new E-12 Education budget also includes investments to support our students inside and outside the classroom. We know when the experts in the schools - teachers, counselors, nurses, social workers and support staff - have sufficient resources, our children and families will succeed.

Learn more from a fact sheet here.
 
Public Safety/Judiciary

With funding for corrections, the courts, criminal apprehension, human rights protections and many other areas, our House Public Safety and Judiciary Budget invests in a safer, more just Minnesota. It increases staffing for our correctional facilities, includes protections against sexual harassment, assault, and other gender-based violence, makes bipartisan reforms to our probation system and so much more.
 
Significantly, a pair of measures to prevent gun violence in Minnesota are included. One would require criminal background checks to be performed prior to all gun sales and another would provide for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, allowing law enforcement to temporarily restrict access to firearms if a court determines a person may be a threat to themselves or others. A fact sheet about steps other states have taken to address gun violence is available here.
 
Higher Education

We should be encouraging young Minnesotans to reach for their hopes, dreams and ambitions, but the high cost of college can be discouraging. I’m proud the House DFL Higher Education budget funds a two-year tuition freeze for UMD and our other public colleges and universities. As a result, more than 200,000 individuals currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems will not pay one penny more in tuition. The budget also increases funding for the Minnesota State Grant Program.
 
Ensuring our state’s outlook remains strong requires investments in the young Minnesotans whose talent will drive our shared success well into the future. The opportunity to receive an affordable, quality higher education is a key component of this.
 
A fact sheet with more information about the House DFL Higher Education budget is available for download here.
 
As we continue toward a final state budget, I hope you’ll keep in touch about the issues which matter to you. Please continue to contact me with any feedback, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.
Sincerely,
 
Jen Schultz
State Representative