Rep. Jeff Backer (12A) – Legislative Update 3/14/15

Dear Neighbors,

It’s an honor to serve you in St. Paul. As our work at the Capitol begins to intensify, I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts on legislation and issues that come before the House. It is very important that I hear from you as we continue our work together to make Minnesota a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

On a side note, we have received feedback from some email update subscribers who have had issues viewing photos included in updates. Certain email providers do not allow photos to be displayed in email updates. If you ever have issues viewing the photos that are included in these updates, you can click here and read the weekly update (pictures included) on my House member page.

Bills Receive Committee Hearings

A bill that would allocate funds for flood hazard mitigation received a hearing in the Capitol Investment Committee last week. House File 1158, which I am chief authoring, would fund flood mitigation projects in Ortonville, Browns Valley, Redpath Township, and the Bois de Sioux Watershed District for the Big Lake project near Herman.

I am hopeful that this bill will continue to receive support from my colleagues and that it will be included in a future bonding bill.

Another bill that I introduced, House File 555, was recently heard in the Education Finance committee.

HF 555 would give one time funding to the Lakes Country Service Cooperative to purchase equipment to expand career, technical, and vocational educational opportunities for 16 schools in Western Minnesota including many in our District.

Additionally, House File 553 received a hearing in the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee. HF 553 would allow Breckenridge and Moorhead based nursing homes to receive funding that is equal to the median rate of the nursing homes in neighboring North Dakota communities.

Currently, North Dakota nursing home rates are higher than Minnesota, which allows North Dakota’s nursing homes to pay their employees a higher wage and allows them to more easily invest in upgrades that are important to ensuring quality care for their residents.

HF 553 would give Breckenridge nursing homes the ability to compete with their North Dakota neighbors and is an important step in ensuring that our seniors receive the best possible care.

Constituent Visits

Last Thursday I met with Todd Travis from Morris to discuss Special Education needs for several of our schools in District 12A.

On Tuesday I met with Charles Oakes and Mark McNally from the Stevens County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC). We visited about the importance of this group and several bills that would provide assistance to DACs in the Minnesota.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting with several staff member from West Central Minnesota Communities Action out of Elbow Lake. We had a good visit about several issues they are concerned about and bills that are important to them.

On Thursday morning I had the opportunity to visit with Gary Haugen. Gary leaves near Clinton and is a board member of the Upper Minnesota River Watershed District. We talked about flood mitigation and buffer strips.

Sarah Bliese, from the Farwell area, visited my office this week to discuss the important “Minnesota State Grant” program. This program helps students from low- and moderate-income families pay for educational expenses at eligible Minnesota colleges or universities.

It was Mental Health Day on the Hill this past Thursday and I had the pleasure of meeting with several individuals from “A Place for Friends” from Breckenridge.

Rebecca Larson and Shair Larsen visited the Capitol this Thursday. Rebecca is the Mental Health Social Worker for Big Stone County Family Services in Ortonville, MN.

If you are planning on being in St. Paul this session, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at to set up an appointment. I would love to meet with you and talk about ways we can make Minnesota better. Again, it is an honor and privilege to represent you and your family for the next two years. I am here to be YOUR voice in St. Paul and it is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

Thanks and talk to you soon, Jeff