Greetings from the district,
As you may have heard, Governor Walz has called the Legislature back for another special session. This special session, like the previous, was required when the governor decided to extend his emergency powers for an additional 30 days. In my view, the special session last month was disappointing because of the extreme partisanship and political games, and I’m determined to help ensure this special session is more productive. And we are off to a good start!
On the first day, the Senate passed three important bills with unanimous support, which are listed below. These bills will now go to the House, and if approved, they will go to the governor for his approval.
- Clearing out the driver’s license backlog: Since COVID hit, the backlog of driver’s license testing has increased causing significant delays. The Department of Public Safety has shared that by the end of the year, there could be more than 125,000 Minnesotans waiting to take tests. The Senate felt that this was unacceptable and passed a bill that would allow tests to be offered at a number of third-party locations to help clear out the backlog, reduce wait times, and make the process more efficient. This is the third time the Senate has passed this bill: once in regular session, once in the first special session, and again this week. I hope the third time is a charm to get this bill passed through the House and signed into law by the governor.
- Making sure dentists are reimbursed for treating MA patients. Dentists providing services to patients on Medical Assistance (MA) are struggling financially as they balance quality care and the costs of mandated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To fix this, the Senate passed a bill to appropriate up to $5 million of federal COVID aid to dentists who continue to serve patients utilizing MA.
- Taking care of people with disabilities: COVID has been devastating to disability service providers. In fact, dozens of providers across the state have said that they may be forced to close if they don’t receive emergency assistance. The Senate passed a bill that allocates $30.4 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to the Department of Human Services for grants to help disability service providers. The Senate passed a similar bill during last month’s special session and again, I’m hoping that this bill will pass through the House and get signed into law by the governor.
So, what’s next? The House, Senate, and governor continue to work toward bipartisan solutions on a number of bills, including a bonding/capital improvements proposal, tax relief for farmers and small businesses, as well as police accountability.
And as always, if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me any time. Your feedback is extremely important to me and I encourage you to share your input. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my Capitol office at 651-296-5649. It’s a great honor to serve as your State Senator.
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