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Families Impacted by Elder Abuse Share Personal Stories

The Senate Aging and Long Term Care Committee dedicated a hearing Wednesday, February 21, to hear from families impacted by abuse at senior care facilities.

Irene McCormick fought back tears as she described finding her mother passed out in her room, and her call for a nurse to help went unnoticed, causing her to dial 911. "The paramedics arrived in her room with a stretcher before anyone came into her room," she said.

The public hearing marked the third in a series of committee meetings focusing on the issue of elder abuse. In the past several weeks, Governor Dayton's administration assigned the Department of Human Services to assist the Department of Health in investigating the numerous backlog of abuse complaints. The committee is scheduling future meetings, including securing testimony from senior care providers.

Senate Convenes 2018 Legislative Session

The Minnesota Senate held its first floor session for the 2018 session on Tuesday, February 20th. Several issues await lawmakers' attention, including determining an amount of bonding for capital improvements at public facilities throughout the state; adjusting state tax law to recognize the recent federal tax changes; curbing abuse at senior care facilities; and aiding the fight against opioid addiction.

As in previous opening day floor sessions, the Senate action was routine, with the exception of reconstituting several Senate and House conference committees on major bills that were left unresolved in 2017. In addition, Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, raised his objection over Senate President Michelle Fischbach presiding over the Senate. Fischbach, a Republican from Paynesville, has been elevated to the position of Lieutenant Governor as a result of the appointment of former Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to the United States Senate. Earlier this year, Senator Fischbach said she intends to hold both positions.

Senator-Elect Karla Bigham takes Oath-of-Office

Senator-Elect Karla Bigham took the oath-of-office, administered by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. She won a special election to Senate District 54, which encompasses parts of Afton, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Newport, St. Paul Park and South St. Paul. Bigham, who is a member of the DFL Caucus, brings the Senate to a 34 to 33 Republican majority.

Senate Leaders on 2018 Legislative Session Goals

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about their priorities for the upcoming session. The leaders provide their perspectives on conforming Minnesota's tax code to the new federal tax law, the size and scope of a bonding bill, the possibility of a dedicated funding stream for transportation, and the restoration of the legislature's budget appropriation, vetoed last May by Governor Mark Dayton in an attempt to get lawmakers to renegotiate aspects of the state's budget.

This week, Governor Dayton and bipartisan lawmakers introduced a broad initiative to combat the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. Both Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, and Representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar, have lost a child due to opioid overdose. They joined the Governor in calling on the opioid manufacturers to help bear the costs of treatment and recovery, emergency response, law enforcement and prevention.

Also, at a Capitol press conference, Senator Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, and several university students introduced a bill designed to fight liberal bias and preserve free speech at state-funded college campuses.

Finally, Capitol Report offers highlights of the February 13 Forum News Service Pre-Session Briefing with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders. The panel fielded questions from reporters on a number of topics, including whether they can move beyond the tumult of last session and whether they predict a surplus in the upcoming budget forecast.

Proposing Bipartisan Opioid Action Plan

Governor Mark Dayton, agency officials and a bipartisan group of lawmakers presented a package of legislation Wednesday, February 14, intended to combat the opioid epidemic. Citing startling statistics involving increases in opioid overdoses and deaths, the Governor said this new initiative will save lives and prevent harm.

One aspect of the Governor's Opioid Action Plan is the Opioid Stewardship Program, which would charge pharmaceutical companies a one cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient, which, according to administration officials, would cost about one penny per pill and would raise $20 million dollars per year. The new revenue would be directed towards funding prevention efforts, emergency response, treatment and recovery programs and supporting law enforcement. The Dayton administration estimates that 16,800 Minnesotans are struggling with an opioid abuse disorder.

Governor Dayton, Legislative Leaders Preview 2018 Session

Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders participated in a pre-session briefing Tuesday, February 13. Sponsored by Forum News Service and moderated by Capitol reporter Don Davis, the event offered reporters throughout Minnesota an opportunity to ask the participants questions about the 2018 session.

Some of the high-profile issues facing state lawmakers include conforming state taxes to the recent federal changes, improving the state's infrastructure through the sale of bonds, curbing elder abuse at Minnesota's care facilities, and enacting pension reform. In addition to reviewing many of the 2018 challenges, Governor Dayton and leaders discussed their working relationships, which at times appeared difficult due to budget negotiation failures and vetoes of major legislation.

Minnesota Senate Media Services
The Minnesota Senate provides live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events. Capitol Report, a weekly public affairs program, and civic education videos also are archived. All programming is produced by Senate Media Services. Audio coverage is recorded and reported by Senate Committee staff and Senate Sergeant At Arms office.

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