I’m happy to report that we’re making progress at the Capitol. On Monday, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and Governor Tim Walz announced they’d agreed upon a framework for the new state budget. The framework will allow us to make historic investments in our schools, strengthen health care, and protect Minnesotans’ economic security.
Legislators will finalize details of the budget over the next few weeks. Conference committees have continued meeting and negotiating, with opportunities for Minnesotans to weigh in. We’ll keep working until the governor calls a special session. We know Minnesotans expect us to work together, and I’m confident we’ll reach a bipartisan agreement.
Supporting Our Students
On Tuesday, Governor Walz announced a plan to help students recover from the pandemic and the unprecedented challenges many of them have faced this year. He’s investing $75 million of Minnesota’s American Rescue Plan funds in summer learning programs. Of this, $34.6 million is dedicated to providing academic and mental health support during the summer and beyond. The rest of the funds will provide preschool for four- and five-year-olds, expand access to tutoring, strengthen Adult Basic Education programs, and support academic enrichment and college readiness initiatives. This package of investments will help students, families, educators, and communities bounce back and prepare for a bright future.
Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan made this announcement during a visit to Otter Lake Elementary School in White Bear Lake. I was able to join them and visit with the students, who were having a lot of fun building structures that could withstand simulated earthquakes!
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit Bear Care Clinic, a free, school-based health center that serves White Bear Lake students from birth to age 21. The clinic opened last year – five months ahead of schedule – to help community members during the pandemic. Since then, it has served more than 300 children and young adults! If you’d like to read more about the clinic, I encourage you to read an article the White Bear Press published about it last year.
Every child should have access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. School-based health clinics help young Minnesotans who struggle to get the care they need. They’re conveniently located, and they offer services to uninsured and underinsured families. It was great to see the Bear Care Clinic in action! I hope more programs like this will open in Minnesota.
Halting the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal and highly contagious neurological disorder, is a serious threat to Minnesota’s wild deer population. Scientists from the University of Minnesota recently found the prions that cause this disease at a public site in Beltrami County where carcasses from a nearby deer farm were dumped. This is concerning news because it’s the furthest we’ve seen the disease spread, and it’s possible wild deer were infected. It’s also a public health issue; health officials advise people not to eat meat from animals infected with CWD. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is developing a plan to increase surveillance in the area, but we need to do more to address this growing problem.
House DFLers are working to establish more safeguards at deer farms, common spots for CWD infection, and stop the disease from spreading further. Our Environment and Natural Resources budget takes several steps to protect wild deer, our economy, and public health, such as prohibiting the importation of deer carcasses, modifying fencing requirements for deer farms, and requiring deer that are killed be tested for CWD. I’ll continue advocating for these critical measures.
Serving as an Early Childhood Fellow
I was recently selected to serve as an Early Childhood Fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This program brings legislative leaders, staff, and experts from across the nation together to work on early childhood issues like child care and early learning. I’m looking forward to sharing knowledge and applying what I learn here in Minnesota.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments you may have as we work to complete our work at the Legislature.