Welcome to 2018. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season connecting with family and friends and are following through on your new years resolutions. As we start the new year I want to continue to keep you posted on what is happening in St. Paul that affects our Senate District and State. I also want to keep you posted and in the loop as to what is happening in our Senate District. I have had and will be having constituent meetings regarding three areas of interest; Education, Health and Human Services, Energy/Public Utilities. These advisory meetings were talked about in the last news letter and those that have shown an interest in them have been followed up with emails and invites. If you want to be a part of these quarterly meetings, please contact my office and let us know at email@example.com As part of my committee assignments I am involved in two continuing discussions; 1. Long Term Care and 2., Home Care working group that looks at the workforce shortage of nurses in Minnesota. This affects the healthcare that our elderly, people with disabilities and vulnerable populations receive. I invite your input and direction as to getting to the solutions that benefit our neighbors who are affected in those areas. I also hope you take the survey at the bottom of this newsletter as I am asking for your input on important issue areas that the Senate will be tackling in the coming session. Thank you again for letting me be your Senator and happy new year!
Energy and Utilities advisory committee
On Wednesday January 10th, I had a Energy and Public Utilities advisory committee meeting. This was a good chance for me to connect with constituents who had previously shown interest in energy and utilities issues. We discussed everything from the current energy grid and biomass to shrimp farms. We also had a discussion about environmental issues including discussion on buffers and clean water. I benefited in hearing from constituents whose knowledge and concern gave me some direction and advice on seeking answers to the questions raised. I invite you to please email me your thoughts, questions and solutions firstname.lastname@example.org . I will be sending out information on when and where the next advisory meeting is. I will be having an Education advisory committee on January 18, at the Champlin Park Library starting at 6pm. I will also have a Healthcare committee January 23rd at the Brooklyn Park Library (8500 West Broadway Avenue) starting at 6pm. Please email me email@example.com if you are interested in participating so I can add you to our list!
Home Care Workforce Shortage Work group
On January 11th we had an Home Care Workforce Shortage Working Group meeting at the State Office Building and heard from our own State Demographer Susan Brower as well as representatives from the various agencies all assigned with looking at services and supports to our aging population. This important meeting has raised more questions about rate reimbursement, pay, disparity and geographic concerns that will need to be addressed not just this coming session but on topic for future sessions. Here is a sample of what we are talking about.
Steady job growth and slowing labor force growth are both contributing to a tight labor market in Minnesota. Minnesota has seen steady job growth since 2010, adding 332,900 jobs since the post-recession employment trough in September 2009. At the same time labor force growth has slowed since the 1990s as a result of the aging baby boom generation. Did you know that our over 65 population in Minnesota is at 635,000 and will be at 965,000 in less then two years? Minnesota’s labor force grew by only 81,000 people over the last 10 years compared to 413,100 people during the 1990s. The Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions of Minnesota are already experiencing a declining working age population which has exacerbated labor force shortages in those regions. Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in October is at a 17-year low.
Slow labor force growth will likely constrain job growth in Minnesota over the next several decades. Slowing labor force growth is already impacting employers’ ability to fill vacancies, especially at the low end of the wage scale. This is particularly true in healthcare where job growth is being driven by the same demographics as labor force growth: As the baby boom generation ages, the demand for healthcare, and particularly home care services, is increasing.
Some of the reasons for the current shortage are increasing nurse/patient ratios, staff turnover, too many complex regulations and paperwork, low wages, no benefits, limits on training, educational opportunities, career advancement, physically demanding work, requirements to advance from LPN to RN.
As we take this work deeper into detail, I am asking every one of you that has a story to share to write to me. Those stories should lead to discussion of systemic change which in turn should be a baseline for us to get to the heart of the matter, assuring services to those in most need.
Highway 169 and 101st Ave Interchange receives funding
I’m pleased that the Highway 169 / 101st Avenue North construction project has received $10 million in funding through the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED’s) Transportation Economic Development (TED) program.
The TED competitive grant programs are designed to help meet the state’s transportation and economic development needs by creating and preserving well-paying jobs and leveraging private and local investment in transportation infrastructure.
The $10 million TED grant is a critical step forward for our community to make this $31 million project become a reality. Completing this interchange is imperative to our community. It will not only improve the safety of the interchange, but will help our community provide the infrastructure necessary to keep good paying jobs in Brooklyn Park and the surrounding area. Within the next year, Target, NorthPark, Gateway and Astra Village all expect to expand. We need this important road and interchange improvement to keep up with important economic growth.
The planning for this interchange started back in 2007. This interchange was identified as needing a vital upgrade to meet the anticipated development in the northwest portion of Brooklyn Park and the adjacent areas of neighboring communities. The design also accommodates future plans for Bottineau LRT.
I have been a strong supporter of making sure TED grants are available for economic development and transportation projects. I was chief author of legislation that would provide bonding for the Highway 169 and 101st Avenue project. I in turn voted for the Omnibus Transportation bill in 2013, which included $20 million in funding for this important program. I also voted for legislation in 2014 that prevented the elimination of this essential economic development grant program.
This grant will keep the project moving forward to reconstruct 101st Avenue to a four-lane roadway, add auxiliary lanes along Highway 169 between 610 and 101st Avenue and construct a new full access, folded diamond interchange at Highway 169 and 101st Avenue intersection. I’ve always been a strong advocate of transportation funding to make our roads and interchanges safer, reduce congestion and keep up with business growth.
Minnesota Licensing and Registration System problems
On January 4th the transportation committee held a hearing on the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System. Auto dealers, deputy registrars and others told members of the Senate transportation committee that many of those problems persist.
Local offices have had problems processing new drivers licenses, tabs and titles. The members of the committee let their frustrations be known but want to be a partner to make sure that this is resolved.
I have heard from some of you who have been waiting months to get documents. If you have been experiencing trouble please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
I want to hear from you on the important issues that are facing our state. Please click on the following 10 question survey. I promise it won’t take an hour of your time.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call my office at 651-296-4154 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org