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Elder Abuse, Public Health Concerns, Civil War Battle Flags

Reports of abuse and neglect of Minnesota's elderly and vulnerable population emerged early this year and became a major focus of the 2018 session. Efforts to address the issue were nullified when Governor Dayton vetoed the omnibus budget bill. Senator Karin Housley, chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, recently called upon Governor Dayton to convene a special session to address the issue, and she joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to offer her perspective.

Two challenging issues lawmakers continue to grapple with are the health and well-being of elderly and vulnerable adults and the scourge of inadequate mental health care which contributes to addiction and suicide. The Commissioner of the Department of Health, Jan Malcolm, describes the agency's efforts to tackle these problems.

Minnesota was the first state to respond to President Lincoln's request for volunteer regiments to defend the Union and raised twenty-one different units (infantry, cavalry, artillery, and sharpshooter) for service in the Civil and U.S.-Dakota Wars. Following the Battle of Bull Run in 1861, Minnesota began a tradition of displaying battle flags in the Capitol. Brian Pease of the Minnesota Historical Society talks about the flags and the restoration efforts to keep these relics accessible for future generations.

Protecting Public Infrastructure; Reducing Carbon Footprint

The water you drink, the roads you drive, the buildings where students are educated are only a small part of a vast public infrastructure that is in constant need of monitoring, upgrading and rebuilding. A key policymaker who remains vigilant of that system is Senator David Senjem, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, and he joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to discuss legislative action over the last two years and what challenges remain.

As part of improving the public infrastructure, a solar array was installed on top of the Minnesota Senate Building, and it was the first solar array on the State Capitol complex. Capitol Report highlights the ribbon cutting ceremony, plus Department of Administration Commissioner Matt Massman joins Shannon to talk about recent efforts to reduce the state's carbon footprint and what is needed to ensure Minnesota becomes a leader in using renewable energy.

Reflecting on Senate, Reforming Child Protection, Right to Try

Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach was first elected to the Minnesota Senate by special election in 1996, and served as state senator for district 13 until her swearing in as Lieutenant Governor in May of this year. She joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to reflect on her 22 years of service in the Minnesota Senate.

According to the Pioneer Press, black children in Minnesota are three times more likely to become involved with child protection and be removed from their homes than white children. Last session, Senator Jeff Hayden was co-author of the Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act, and he joins Shannon to explain the issue in greater detail.

Minnesota was among the initial adopters of Right to Try legislation which allows terminally ill patients to access experimental therapies before they have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). In May, President Donald Trump signed a federal Right to Try bill into law. Representative Nick Zerwas was at that signing ceremony, and he joins Shannon to talk about the importance of the new law and how his life was saved as a result of an experimental procedure.

State Capitol Memorials Honor Minnesota's Veterans

On this week's program, Capitol Report features some of the State Capitol memorials that honor the men and women who fought for our liberty and freedom.

The Minnesota Memorial to Special Forces in Laos was dedicated in 2016. It is a tribute to the men and women who served in alliance with the United States Armed Forces during the Secret War in Laos from 1961 to 1975.

Over ten years ago, in 2007, World War II veterans gathered in front on the State Capitol to dedicate a memorial in honor of the many men and women who fought, contributed and lost their lives defending our liberty and freedom.

Finally, In 1992, Minnesota Vietnam Veterans finally received the recognition they deserved when a memorial in their honor was dedicated on the State Capitol grounds.

Governor Dayton Signs Pension Bill at State Capitol Ceremony

Before a bipartisan group of lawmakers, state officials, public retirees and workers, Governor Mark Dayton signed into a law Thursday, May 31, a bill stabilizing Minnesota's pension system.

According to Minnesota state officials, the pension reform legislation eliminates about $3.4 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities and sets the state on a path to have the public pension system fully funded within 30 years, thus stabilizing the benefits for 511,000 public employees and retirees.

In addressing the large crowd in attendance, Governor Dayton said, "I'm proud to be a public employee. I'm proud of what we all together have done for the state of Minnesota, and I'm just very, very happy that we can provide this security for all of you and everyone else throughout our state."

Legislative Pension Commission Chair Julie Rosen said, "A bill of this magnitude doesn't come along very often, and it is going to change not only the pensions and security for our pensioners ongoing, but our financial stability in this state, and that's what more important. So, I just want to say to all the other states, you should stand up and watch what happened in Minnesota."

Governor Dayton Signs Capital Improvements Bonding Bill

Governor Mark Dayton announced Wednesday, May 30, that he is signing the capital improvements bonding bill, which would launch about $1.4 billion dollars worth of construction projects throughout the state. The governor's action included one line-item veto of a $1 million dollar grant for reviewing the work of the Pollution Control Agency.

In a letter to legislative leaders, Dayton expressed his objections to the size of the bill, citing a lack of funds for higher education, state parks, and water infrastructure. Further, Dayton criticized the use of $98 million dollars in appropriation bonds through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is supported through the sale of lottery tickets. Dayton said that the bonding bill includes environmental projects that have not been approved by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which recommends projects supported through the trust fund.

As signed into law, the bill includes about $825 million dollars through the sale of General Obligation Bonds. The money would be used for preserving state buildings and infrastructure, preserving assets at Minnesota's higher education institutions, constructing new veteran homes and building mental health centers.

The new law will also allow the sale of $417 million dollars in Trunk Highway Bonds for various road and bridge improvements throughout the state; however, the bill did not provide funding for transit projects.

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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