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HF666 – A Bill for Human Respect and Dignity

February 2024 Dear Community Members, The legislative session begins February 12, 2024, and I look forward to being a voice of reasonableness for Northern Minnesota. With 40% increased mental health needs after the pandemic, we are in a recovery and rebuilding mode. Our mental health is a critical component of our overall physical health. This led me to author HF 666, to ensure every human has the right to have at least one support person with them should lockdowns occur again. I hope the Democrat Committee Chairs will be willing to give the bill a hearing.

  • In my first committee meeting for the Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee, we had a pediatrician speak as an expert witness on adverse childhood events (ACE). When I asked if isolation would be on this list after the pandemic, he stated that research is occurring now. He quickly stated that, as a State Representative he would err on the side of keeping people together.
  •  A high school student told me her mother died of cancer in the hospital, and she was not allowed to say goodbye because she was not allowed to be with her even with a mask on.
  • Numerous family members have shared stories of car accidents and other traumas that happened during the pandemic, and they were not allowed to be with their loved ones.
  • Numerous spouses and family members shared stories of extreme isolation from those they care for in disability homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
  • Numerous pregnant women were alone, during peak COVID restrictions and did not have a support person with them during childbirth. In the 2023 session, we voted to ensure a pregnant person was guaranteed one support person. This was fantastic.

Now, we need to ensure every person is guaranteed this basic human right. Imagine if you had a severe medical emergency, car accident, cancer treatment, or change of condition requiring an assisted living, nursing home, or group home and did not see those you love for weeks or months. Every moment matters and we must be more compassionate should another pandemic ever occur.

This is a reasonable expectation and a reasonable bill for human respect and dignity. Togetherness should not be banned. Period. We know more now, and we must do better.

I voted for the bonding bill in 2023 that funded several projects in our region. Numerous other regional projects benefited from the bill, including ATV trails, snowmobile trails, the Gitchi-Gami state trail, and so much more. I authored a bill for gap funding for the completion of the Highway 61 road renovation. I also authored a critical bill that passed the last day of the session, resulting in every nursing home receiving $225,000 and additional funding per bed. This helped to stabilize our highest level of care outside of hospital settings. In addition, I voted for a lead pipe replacement plan to ensure clean drinking water statewide.

It was great to see many of you at town halls, meet and greet, and community events. While there are many issues to address, there are many great opportunities to build great communities as well.

It has been an honor to serve on the Health and Human Services Finance, Children & Family and Workforce committees. In addition, I am pleased to serve on the Aging Services Task Force and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Task Force as directed by the Governor. I have had numerous conversations and site tours with ambulance services, fire departments, hospitals, and non-emergency transportation providers to seek solutions that will work for Northern Minnesota.

I promised to be accessible to you, and to keep you in the loop. I will host more town halls in 2024 and look forward to attending various events in the community.

Please feel free to reach out to me at 218-409- 6822 or rep.natalie.zeleznikar@house.mn  with ideas or questions.

Working for you,
Rep. Natalie Zeleznikar

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