On Monday, the regular legislative session concluded. There is still a great deal of work yet to do, but we have a framework for a new state budget. Here’s an update.
Governor Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced they’ve reached a bipartisan budget agreement. The budget framework includes robust investments in education, and funding to help workers, businesses, and families recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers will have a special session in June when we will consider a full new two-year state budget. My work continues as a member of the Judiciary and Public Safety Conference Committee, where we are discussing a number of budget and policy items.
One of our major priorities all session has been ensuring Minnesota students will be able to recover from learning loss over the pandemic. Governor Walz announced a plan to invest $75 million to fund summer school opportunities to help Minnesota students bounce back both academically and emotionally. The investment is made using American Rescue Plan funds to provide academic enrichment and mental health support this summer and beyond. This is a critical investment in students and families that will ensure learners will have a strong future.
On Monday, the House unanimously passed a bill paving the way for Minnesota to join PSYPACT, an interstate compact allowing psychologists to practice telepsychology across state lines. This law will help to address the unmet mental health needs in our state. I had the honor to serve on the House/Senate conference committee that resolved the differences between each chamber’s version of the legislation, and I’m proud this solution will become law to help Minnesotans have access to the mental health services they count on.
While we still need to pass a full Health and Human Services budget, on Monday before we adjourned, the House and Senate both passed a bipartisan package of policy legislation to improve health care for Minnesotans. One piece included in this bill was Jonny’s Law, of which I am a co-author, that prohibits discrimination by insurance providers, medical providers, and organ donation list operators from discriminating against people with disabilities. The bill is named after Jonny Hillyer – a Minnesotan with Down Syndrome – whose mother Erica advocated for the change.
I got involved with advocating for this bill when a student wrote me a letter as part of a class assignment. He informed me about this issue and how it impacted his sibling. Their mother said this:
"I am so grateful for the support we received in Minnesota to pass this important legislation to prevent discrimination in access to organ transplant. My son Peter and all those living with disabilities deserve to receive the same assessment process for a life saving organ transplant and this bill ensures equal access to that critical care. I am glad to know, should he ever need an organ transplant, we will be able to stay and receive that care at our home hospital. I am proud of my oldest son, Adam, for selecting organ transplant discrimination as his high school government project and involving our family in this important legislation,” said Amanda Collins, mom of Peter Collins.
I was proud to support this legislation that will help ensure people with disabilities have equal access to the lifesaving care they need.
On Tuesday, May 25 from 2-5 p.m., in partnership with Ramsey County and other metro area counties and cities, Elevate Futures is hosting a Teen Job Fair. To register for the fair, visit www.elevatefutures.com and create an account, using TEENJOBS as the registration code. After registration, you’ll receive a list of employers hiring teens, invitations to prep sessions, and more. If you know a teenager looking for a job this summer, please share this opportunity with them.
From May 26 through June 8, COVID-19 vaccines will be available at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be offered, which only requires a single dose, so no follow-up appointment is necessary. Walk-ins are welcome, but if you prefer to make an appointment, you can schedule one here. It's never been easier to get vaccinated, and all Minnesotans age 12 or older are now eligible. Click here for a full map of locations offering the vaccine.
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