I hope you are enjoying fall thus far, and that you and your families have had the opportunity to be out in the warm weather we have experienced.
Tomorrow, November 11, is Veterans Day, a time we recognize the men and women of our military who, through amazing service and enormous sacrifices, have protected the United States at home and abroad. As a member of our local Beyond The Yellow Ribbon chapter, it was my honor to visit with and speak to the veterans and family members at the recent Eden Prairie Senior Center’s veterans appreciation breakfast. These veterans had remarkable stories to share that displayed their courage and dedication to our nation.
Here is a link to events commemorating Veterans Day in Minnesota: Veterans Day 2015 Event List
As we honor those who served, it is important to remember that the battles don’t end when they receive their discharge papers. Many veterans struggle to reintegrate into their former lives after their deployment ends. There are resources to help:
Teacher Licensure Hearing
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a joint hearing of the Education Finance and Education Innovation Policy Committees for a discussion on teacher licensure. In the Omnibus K-12 Finance Bill passed during this June’s special session, a number of provisions were included to streamline the licensing process with the aim of addressing teacher shortages, and we were able to hear about the Board of Teaching’s progress in implementing them. We also heard testimony from those who continue to have concerns, particularly those teachers from out-of-state who still have difficulty obtaining licenses.
I remain committed to ensuring our teachers are well-qualified and have excellent training, while realizing that these processes need to be clarified in order to remove the barriers to licensure. In order to address the achievement gap, we must be able to get good teachers in classrooms everywhere in the state, especially in the areas of math and science, as well as special education.
You can watch the hearing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsySbTkFVfk
MNsure Open Enrollment
On November 1, the 2016 open enrollment period began for MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange. If you are currently without health insurance, I encourage you to visit www.mnsure.org to examine the plans available and get enrolled. Even if you currently have insurance through the exchange, you should take some time to use the comparison tools on the website to shop around, as there may be more cost-effective plans available to you.
It’s also important to note that the only way to take advantage of federal tax credits for purchasing health insurance is to enroll through the MNsure exchange. While I’m pleased to hear that call center hold times are down significantly (now averaging four seconds), and that our rates remain the lowest in the upper Midwest, I remain disappointed about this year’s significant premium increases for many of the individual insurance plans. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass needed reforms which will improve the stability of our health care system and make insurance more accessible and affordable for Minnesotans.
As always, I value your input, so please don’t hesitate to be in touch with your questions and concerns about issues important to you and your family.