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More for Long term Care
Published On: 11th February 2015 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

Last week I visited the Millstream Commons Assisted living facility in Northfield.  Over the years, I have visited several long term care facilities and nursing homes in my district.  Meeting and talking with the administrators and staff in these facilities is always illuminating.  It is also emotional and from a policy perspective, it is frustrating.  As a state, we need to do more to support these workers and these facilities.

Two years ago, the Minnesota legislature passed the “5% campaign” which gave a 5% increase in state funding to our long term care facilities statewide.  Last year, we passed another 5% increase to community based care facilities that support individuals with special needs.  That was a start.  We barely made a dent in addressing the long term fiscal health of these facilities.

Workers once again shared their stories of low pay while administrator spoke of the difficulty in attracting and retaining quality workers.  One employee is holding 3 jobs to make ends meet for her family.  Workers with years of experience talked about how little their pay has increased since they were hired over 2 decades ago.  Workers are lost to grocery stores or restaurants that pay better, even at a starting wage. How does this profession attract new employees thinking about a career in health care?

We should be concerned.  Many long term care facilities are losing money and turning clients away.  As our parents and grandparents mature and the need for care increases, facilities in my district and across Minnesota struggle to meet the demands.  The state’s funding mechanism is broken leading to inequities and a lack of adequate services across the state.

These employees are passionate about the work they do.  They love working with the clients they serve. They are doing everything they can to provide the best quality of life for them.  We need to focus on fixing the funding formula, increasing long term care worker’s wages, and ensuring adequate options for people and families across the state.  We can and must do more.

 



Letting Our Youth Have a Say
Published On: 3rd February 2015 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

Last Friday I had the pleasure of presenting a bill before the Minnesota Youth Council’s January committee meeting held here in the State Office Building.  This is one of several legislative meetings planned by The Youth Council, an initiative of the Minnesota Alliance with Youth. In 2013 I passed a bill to give standing to the Minnesota Youth Council as a legislative committee that would provide advice and recommendations to the legislature and the governor.  The Council focuses on issues affecting youth, to serve as a liaison for youth around the state to the legislature and the governor; and submit an annual report of the council’s activities and goals.  The committee consists of four members from each congressional district in the state and four members selected at large. Members are selected through an application and interview process conducted by the Minnesota Alliance with Youth. Members, of diverse backgrounds, are between ages of 13 and 19 of and serve two-year terms.  This is an excellent opportunity is to engage young people and allow them to practice important leadership skills for civic engagement, policy research, and to really understand how the legislative process works.

My bill, SF 76, was one of 5 bills presented that day.  The bill would allow school districts to levy for long term deferred maintenance projects.  Currently, the largest 25 school districts receive this “alternative facilities revenue” and my bill would extend that revenue option to the other 300 plus districts around the state.  The 30 students at the committee table asked great questions about my bill, eventually calling for a roll call vote.  My bill passed and I gained some valuable insight on what students were thinking as it related to school facilities and how we work to try and maintain them.  Other Senators and representative presented their bills on varying topics ranging from health care, higher education, and workforce development.  You could tell the students relished the opportunity to interact with legislators, on real bills, in a real committee room.

As a high school teacher for the past 31 years, I know that our young people have a lot to offer.  They love to discuss the issues of the day and they all have opinions to share.  I have noticed over the years that some of the best testifiers in our committees come from our youth.  They tell it like it is offering a glimpse into their life challenges and experiences.  As legislators we would do well to consider how our legislation affects all Minnesotans, young and old.  Our policies we put in place now have long term ramifications.  Let’s be sure to allow the next generation to weigh in every once in a while.   I look forward to future committee meetings with the Minnesota Youth Council.



Life Lessons from Mayberry
Published On: 21st January 2015 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

For the past 4 or 5 years, I have presented “Life lessons from Mayberry” at our adult forum between Sunday services at the Northfield United Methodist Church.  I usually take a couple of Sundays each year highlighting an episode of my favorite TV sitcom, the Andy Griffith Show.

My interest in the show runs deep, rooted in the fact that I grew up at the same time of the show’s initial run and I grew up in a small town in Iowa, living the same values, work ethic, and developing those relationships just like in Mayberry, America’s hometown.

Over the years, my forums included episodes such as “Man in a Hurry, Opie the Birdman, Sermon for the Day, Mr. McBeevee, and Opie and the Bully” to name a few. This past Sunday, I showed “Andy Forecloses,”  this episode in which Andy is asked to serve papers evicting a family who failed to pay their mortgage on time.  Old Ben Weaver, owner of the property, is so intent on following the letter of the law that he forgets the human element, and in this case, the devastating effect on the Scobees, the family who is forced to pack up and leave their home.

The discussion, from those in attendance at the forum, reminds us of some important “life lessons” we can all do well to revisit.  We as legislators have to remember that the laws we pass, revise or repeal have real effects on real people.  Face to face discussions with other lawmakers and constituents help us connect with real stories for better understanding.  While it is easy to follow the letter of the law, what are some of the important principles behind the legislation?

As Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and even Opie kick off the fund drive to “Save the Scobees” we are reminded how important community is in meeting the needs of individuals.  Our civic groups, schools, our churches, and other community organizations often are asked to fill the gaps when individuals and families are “down on their luck.”  As a state, we certainly want to support these groups and communities in their efforts to assist our neighbors to ensure their basic needs are being met.  In some instances, we as a state need to step in to fill the gaps.  Those initiatives should be purposeful with input from all those who are affected.  We can turn the power of one into the power of many.  I hope we are not too busy to stop, look around, and offer a hand to those in need.  It is the Mayberry way.



The World’s Best Workforce 2015
Published On: 15th January 2015 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

The start of the 2015 session is now in its third week and I must admit the pace is much slower this year than in the past.  Last year, the second year of the biennium, saw a start date of February 25 with early committee deadlines and election year politics as part of the mix.  Schedules filled up fast and committee agendas kept things moving from the very start.

With the capitol renovations going on around us and shorter committee time slots, we have seen a much more relaxed pace to start the 89th legislature.  I serve on the same committees as last year, Commerce, State & Local Government, and Education finance and policy.  Because bills are just getting introduced and working their way out of the revisors’ office, committees have not been running at full speed yet.  It will only be a matter of weeks and days before we wish we had the extra time we enjoy now to meet with constituents and interest groups with their legislative concerns and agendas.

One committee, Education, has had several meetings so far.  This morning we heard a progress report on the World’s Best Workforce legislation, which was passed into law in 2013. The legislation was designed to ensure all school districts in the state were making strides to plan for continuous school improvement addressing 5 goals.  Those goals include:

  1. All children are ready to start kindergarten
  2. All 3rd graders can read at grade level
  3. All achievement gaps between students are closed
  4. All students are ready for career and/or post-secondary education.
  5. All students graduate from high school

The report this morning was encouraging.  Administrators from Anoka- Hennepin, St. Paul, Bloomington, the Dept. of Education and others reported a great start to this initiative.  In many instances, these goals became a part of a district’s strategic plan.  A parent and community meeting requirement as part of the bill has seen positive discussions allowing better communication and more innovative planning going forward.

Stakeholders were generally upbeat about the World’s Best Workforce’s initial rollout.  We hope to see these best practices and models around the state shared to help our schools meet our future workforce needs.  As our population ages; as skilled worker jobs remain unfilled; as we wrestle with high achievement gaps, especially in our urban districts, we hope the blue print met with great optimism today will be the roadmap to help Minnesota develop, indeed, the world’s best workforce.

 



2015 Session
Published On: 9th January 2015 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

Welcome back.  For several years I wrote about my experiences at the state Capitol on my website, “Mr. Dahle Goes to St. Paul.”  I am planning to crank it up again as we start the 89th session of the Minnesota legislature.  Look to this site to hear what is going on at the State Capitol and my thoughts and analysis of the session, the legislative process, and my daily experiences as a State Senator.

The Senate gavel came dropped at noon on Tuesday, January 6.  Newly elected Lt. Governor Tina Smith opened the session.  It will be an interesting two years as we pass the next biennial budget.  While Governor Dayton remains in the Governor’s office, we will be working with a newly elected Republican House.  I am hopeful we can pass a progressive budget with good policy for Minnesotans across the state.

Education is always an important focus of my agenda.  One of the larger slices of the state budget, there are several initiatives for education in the upcoming session.  Yesterday, we heard from over 30 stakeholders in the Education committee that I serve on. They presented their legislative agendas and “wish lists” and priorities for the upcoming session.  In addition, the Senate rolled out its first 6 bills of the session.  Three of the six were education related.  One bill would expand free Pre-K education for all pre-schoolers enrolled in our public schools. This builds on the full funding of all day every day kindergarten we passed in the last session, emphasizing the importance of investing in our children early to ensure success later.  In addition, another bill introduced yesterday would offer tuition free 2 Year College through our MNSCU system.  This is a product of our discussions over the past few years to concentrate on work force development to help the business community’s need for skilled workers.  Another bill would help students “earn while they learn” which would provide academic credit for high schoolers who partner with local employers for vocational training.

I introduced legislation that will extend the Alternative facilities program to all school districts, which will establish a new long-term facilities maintenance revenue program to replace the current alternative facilities, deferred maintenance and health and safety revenue programs to provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable long-term maintenance funding for all school district statewide.  This recommendation was a result of a School facilities financing working group which concluded it’s work this past fall.  This will especially help rural districts in low property wealth districts like Northfield, New Prague, Belle Plaine, and Tri-City United (Montgomery, Lonsdale, LeCenter) schools.

I am excited to get to work for my constituents in Senate District 20 and for all Minnesotans.  Education is just one of our priorities this session.  I will be sharing my thoughts on other initiatives in the days and weeks ahead.



Vote Kevin Dahle 2012