Two Harbors resident Tara Solem met with Senator Grant Hauschild to discuss issues related to disability services. Solem is a member of the Partners in Policymaking class that teaches the history, laws and effective advocacy for individuals with disabilities. The class is held from September to May and open to adults with disabilities and parents who are raising children with disabilities. There is no charge for this training. Applications are now accepted for the 2023- 2024 class. For more information search for Partners In Policymaking MN.
We’re halfway through the legislative session, and things are busy in Saint Paul. There are a lot of ideas on the table at the Capitol this year, and some of them are moving with a sense of urgency after years of being held up by gridlock.
Last weekend, I hosted town halls with Representative Zeleznikar in Proctor and Two Harbors. We discussed our priorities on education and healthcare, and addressed a wide array of questions from constituents. These were thoughtful discussions, and I was grateful to hear the opinions of all who took part. Despite our party differences, I am proud that we were able to come together to make ourselves available to our constituents. This is the most important part of my job: listening to you, taking your feedback to Saint Paul, and representing our region above all else.
Families across the district have continued to express to me the need to support our Northland schools. I am excited for the proposals being prioritized this session that will fully fund our special education needs, as well as increase the per pupil funding formula. When I was recently in Cook County, I heard from the school district that the special education funding would impact their school district more than any other in Minnesota. The legislative budget we have set for K-12 Education will lead to one of the most historic investments in education in a generation.
In addition to education, the topic of healthcare has been a prominent one both during our town hall and throughout my many conversations with constituents across the district. Many have connected with me about struggles facing our rural healthcare centers, the solvency of our rural ambulance services, and the crisis impacting our nursing homes. Our small, independent community healthcare clinics are essential to the Northland, which is why I’ve introduced several bills fighting for direct appropriation for Northland Federally Qualified rural health centers across our region.
Nursing homes, such as the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, are facing financial challenges. After learning about these concerns, I convened a meeting with nursing home leadership and the Minnesota Department of Health to get to the root of concerns surrounding delays in their reimbursement payments. I’m also authoring legislative solutions including a bill that would designate non-metro based nursing homes as critical access facilities eligible for supplemental grants to help maintain solvency. Ensuring our region can continue to care for our aging parents and grandparents is critical for keeping our families close to one another and providing the best possible care.
In addition to discussions regarding education and healthcare, I took time during the town halls to highlight my work to increase Local Government Aid. My goal of $300 million in Local Government Aid and County Program Aid would provide direct funding to local Northland communities to greatly reduce the property tax burden and provide support for core community services like public safety, roads, utilities, and more. I’m also advocating for a direct appropriation to local police departments to assist with recruitment, retention, and equipment upgrades that are desperately needed in the Northland.
I am grateful for all opportunities to connect with constituents. Whether or not you were able to make it to the town hall I’d love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at www.senate.mn. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve you and the rest of the Northland.