Sen. Cwodzinski Update: February 10, 2017

Week of February 5th – 11th

News from the Capitol

Forum News Service photo by Don Davis

Governor Dayton Signs Healthcare Premium Relief Bill Into Law 

Two weeks ago, Governor Dayton signed into law the Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act (Senate File 1). This law provides relief to thousands of Minnesotans who purchase their insurance on the individual market and have experienced premium increases (in some cases over 67%) over the past year. Still, we need a permanent solution as well. Some of these options include expanded access to Minnesota, removal of our state’s geographic rating areas, and a reinstatement of Minnesota’s High Risk Pool, which would pull down costs on the individual marketplace by separating it from high cost patients. Due to uncertainty at the federal level however, it will be difficult to find a lasting solution since many of our state’s laws are suited to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

REAL ID Compliance 

On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee passed a bill to make Minnesota driver’s licenses and identification cards compliant with the federal REAL ID law. This policy requires states to implement additional security features into identification cards. Senate File 166 offers both REAL ID compliant and non-compliant options for driver’s licenses and identification cards.The bill will now go to the Senate Judiciary Finance and Policy Committee. I am hopeful that we can finally move our state into federal compliance during this legislative session.

Meeting with Constituents

While touring the Department of Commerce I ran into a former student, Brandon Johnson, who now investigates financial crimes. It is truly amazing to see how far some of my kids have come (and yes, I will still refer to former students as kids, no matter how old). I am so unbelievably proud of him! 

 

Longtime friend Patricia Magnuson stopped by along with Troy Schreifels, Ron Meyer, and Jason Mutzenberger to talk about the legislative priorities of school business officials. Though not very well known, these are the people our school districts depend on to balance their budgets, and I deeply appreciate their work.

 

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful meeting with advocates from Decoding Dyslexia Minnesota, including a constituent of mine, Kelly Berg. I also got to meet Lyn Haselmann, an Eden Prairie High School alum, who brought with her a note she wrote down during a commencement speech I gave over 20 years ago. Under #11 on her list of goals, it reads “levy for a bill or new law.” 

Wording aside, I am so profoundly grateful to have made such an impact on someone’s life, and I am thrilled that we both found our way to the capitol to do work we are passionate about.

I had meant to include many other pictures with constituents in this first newsletter, but unfortunately we did not always remember to take a picture. Going forward, expect to see many more!

Committees Begin Taking Up Legislation

After a few weeks of general overviews, committees have begun to take action on legislation as we move deeper into session.

I was thrilled to hear the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s recommendations for how the legislature can work to restructure Minnesota’s teacher licensure system. I support their impartial suggestions of consolidating all teacher licensure governance into a single independent standards board. In doing so, this would ensure greater transparency and consistency, and ensure teachers are given a seat at the table.

Outside of board governance, another critical issue is creating pathways to full teacher licensure. Many aspiring educators are currently forced to teach under variances based on their special circumstances, which prevents them from gaining the skills they need towards becoming a fully licensed teacher. This is especially problematic with Career and Technical Education (CTE), where instructors can be hard to find and are often unprepared to manage classrooms. Our state can and must do better, and I look forward to playing a critical role in further discussion on this issue.


Upcoming Community Events 

Family Fire Day

Saturday, February 11 from 10:30am – 12:30pm

Minnetonka Fire Station 1, 14550 Minnetonka Blvd

Enjoy a tour of the fire station and see a firefighter dressed in full fire gear. The 20-foot inflatable slide will be ready for fun, and Sparky the fire safety dog will be on hand for photos. Plus, enjoy a free serving of delicious firehouse chili and hot apple cider!

President’s Day Flag Folding Ceremony

Thursday, February 16 from 3:30pm – 5pm

Eden Prairie Senior Center, 8950 Eden Prairie Road

Bringing veterans and Eden Prairie Girl Scouts together to celebrate those who have served our country, this educational event will feature a presentation on the history and meaning of the official U.S. flag folding ceremony. Eden Prairie Police Department reserve officers will demonstrate flag raising, lowering and folding. This event will feature guest speaker City Council Member Ron Case as well as a presentation on the history and meaning of the official U.S. flag folding ceremony. 

Nature Rocks! Outdoor Center Open House 

Saturday, February 18 from 10am – 12pm

Eden Prairie Outdoor Center, 13765 Staring Lake Parkway 

The Outdoor Center invites families to attend its Nature Rocks event featuring free family-friendly activities such as hiking, hands-on interaction with live animals, craft projects and more!