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This Week at the Capitol: Common Sense Reform

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education, Reform, Health


There was a lot of action this week at the Capitol, with legislative deadlines looming and important legislation on the move. However, there was also a lot of great work being done around government reform and improving services for all Minnesotans.

Today, the Governor stood with Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius to celebrate yet another competitive federal grant award for MDE. Today’s grant money brings the total amount of new money won by the department under the Dayton administration to nearly $119 million. These reforms (and the funding we have won as a result) mean that our state’s schools continue to improve and that Minnesota is returning to a role as a national leader in education.

Earlier this week, Human Services Commissioner Cindy Jesson did a wonderful job of trumpeting her Department’s work to save taxpayers money while still ensuring that their programs serve Minnesotans well. The Department of Human Services has established a new Office of the Inspector General to root out waste and fraud in social service programs.


Human Services head Lucinda Jesson calmly guides department through age of reform

Posted on March 02, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Categories: Health

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is the state’s largest agency, serving well over one million people annually. The department administers a broad range of services, including health care, economic assistance, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment. At the helm of the department, Commissioner Lucinda Jesson has engaged in some of the State’s toughest battles over the past year, including keeping services rolling throughout the State Government Shutdown.

This week Politics in Minnesota (subscription required) profiled the work of Commissioner Jesson. The article commends Commissioner Jesson for her perseverance and positive demeanor when dealing with last year’s budget fights.

“She has got one of the toughest commissioner jobs that is out there,” [Minnesota Hospital Association president] Massa says. “She has been very open to working with stakeholders. She is a good communicator. If she thinks something is going to be controversial, she will give us a call or have someone on her staff give us a call.”


Lt. Governor Prettner Solon announces food support coalition

Posted on January 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM
Categories: Health, Seniors, Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon

On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon announced the launch of the Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition, a program designed to promote the federal Food Support program and increase access to Minnesotans who are in need of healthy food options.

The Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition is a public-private partnership and includes experts from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, University of Minnesota Extension, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Second Harvest Heartland, Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota Grocers Association, General Mills Foundation, county organizations, and numerous other state, business, nonprofit and community partners. This group will attempt to increase participation in the federally funded Food Support program by ensuring that all Minnesotans who are eligible for the program have access to it. Currently, only 65 percent of eligible Minnesotans received Food Support benefits; the Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition will attempt to expand the program to reach more qualifying Minnesotans.


Building a Better Minnesota

Posted on December 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Categories: Economy, Jobs, Health, Education, Transportation

A year into Governor Mark Dayton’s first term, Minnesotans are seeing the value of a Governor who is committed to putting people back to work, protecting middle-class taxpayers and changing the way government does business.  Governor Dayton has made significant progress towards these goals by engaging the ideas of legislators from both parties, our state’s businesses, and most importantly, the people of Minnesota.
When he was inaugurated, Governor Dayton said that the way to get Minnesota working again was by working together.  His first year in office has proven that to be true.  Our state is recovering from tough times, but with Governor Dayton’s direction our state agencies continue to do more with less.  The Governor has been relentlessly committed to creating more jobs here in our state, and creating the kind of environment where private businesses can thrive.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a successful state, one that again is the envy of the nation, a leader of the world. Let it be written that we were Minnesotans who led the way to something better than before, who created something greater than ourselves, who achieved together what none of us could have accomplished on our own.”
- Governor Mark Dayton, January 3, 2011

Getting Minnesota Back to Work

- Under the Governor’s leadership Minnesota continues to outpace the national economic recovery.  Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for the rest of the country.  There are 53,000 more Minnesotans at work now, compared to the bottom of the recession. 

- Governor Dayton worked to pass a $500 million bonding bill, putting thousands of Minnesotans back to work improving bridges, roads and infrastructure.


Governor Dayton proclaims TB-Free Day in Minnesota

Posted on December 07, 2011 at 2:00 PM
Categories: Agriculture, Health

Governor Dayton proclaimed today, December 7, 2011, as TB-Free Day in Minnesota, at a press conference honoring the dedication and perseverance of everyone involved in eliminating bovine TB from Minnesota.

For the past six years, Minnesota has worked to eradicate bovine TB and regain its statewide TB-Free Status. With the help of nearly 500 veterinarians, Minnesota producers have tested more than 800,000 head of cattle and Minnesota deer hunters and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have tested nearly 14,000 wild deer for TB.

Minnesota's efforts have raised the bar in disease eradication by showcasing how producers and local, state, and federal agencies should work together, work quickly, and work effectively to eliminate a disease. To read the proclamation, click here.


State Seeks Public Input on Minnesota Made Health Insurance Exchange

Posted on December 05, 2011 at 2:59 PM
Categories: Commerce, Health

Today the Department of Commerce invited Minnesotans to offer input on potential information technology components for a Minnesota-Made Health Insurance Exchange. At noon today, sample modules – a series of websites simulating what an Exchange might look like – went live for public evaluation.

According to the release:

“We are committed to developing a user-friendly environment built by Minnesotans, for Minnesotans,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Ultimately, consumers and small businesses would use this tool to choose the coverage that best suits their needs. We want to gather input from as many Minnesotans as possible, including consumers, small businesses, insurers, health care providers, navigators, agents and brokers. I strongly encourage all Minnesotans to check out these website simulations, and provide their honest and complete feedback.”
A Minnesota-made Health Insurance Exchange would provide consumers with a simple way to find, compare, choose, and purchase health care coverage. The Department of Commerce is working on analytical, operational, and technical infrastructure planning for an Exchange, in partnership with the Minnesota Departments of Human Services and Health, and with the advice of the Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force.


Governor Dayton proclaims World AIDS Day in Minnesota

Posted on December 01, 2011 at 8:27 AM
Categories: Health

Governor Dayton has proclaimed December 1, 2011, as World AIDS Day in Minnesota, calling attention to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic and the impact that HIV/AIDS has had in the state and around the world.

In commemoration, a variety of HIV testing and public awareness events are scheduled in Minnesota for the day and through the month of December. This is the 24th time Minnesota has taken part in World AIDS Day. 

"World AIDS Day remains a critical observance for us and the world," said Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health.

The proclamation notes that "Minnesotans are encouraged to educate themselves about the risks of HIV, know their HIV status through testing, get care if infected, and demonstrate compassion for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS."


Governor Dayton proclaims Adoption Awareness Month in Minnesota

Posted on November 23, 2011 at 9:03 AM
Categories: Health

Governor Dayton has proclaimed November 2011 as Adoption Awareness Month in Minnesota, encouraging citizens to be aware of the many children in foster care still waiting to be adopted into nurturing homes, and express great appreciation for adoptive families who have opened their hearts and homes to children in need.

One of the greatest gifts a person can give is opening their heart and home to adopt a child or sibling group from the foster care system. There are thousands of children in foster care in Minnesota, waiting to be adopted by families who can provide safe, permanent homes.

Adopted children have a positive impact on families and bring great happiness and all children deserve to grow up in a nurturing environment where they feel loved, safe, and stable.


Spotlight on Reform: Helping Infants with Hearing Loss at the Department of Health

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM
Categories: Health

Today, Governor Dayton announced his first Better Government for a Better Minnesota award winners.  This is part of a series highlighting those winners and their work to make state government work better, more efficiently and more effectively for Minnesotans. 

Hearing loss is the most commonly diagnosed condition in newborn children. In all 50 states, including Minnesota, hearing screening programs exist to ensure hearing loss in infants is identified shortly after birth. This is crucial because children develop the most basic language and communication skills in the first 6 months of life. If a child with hearing impairments goes undiagnosed until later, even at one or two years of age, they may suffer permanent impairments to speech, language and cognitive ability.

Last year, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) re-evaluated its existing screening program and ultimately improved follow-up services for infants with hearing loss. The Newborn Screening Long Term Follow-up Unit at MDH developed standard operating procedures, clarified staff roles and responsibilities, reduced duplication of effort, and increased the accuracy and completeness of data collected during screening. This helped the team ensure critical follow-up services were provided to impacted children and their families in a timely fashion.

So far, the overall wait time for families in need of follow-up services has been reduced on average from 74 days to 33 days, and the improved process has ensured families are connected with the targeted services that they need. In the first days of a child’s life, that time and attention to detail are of the utmost importance.


Governor Dayton proclaims Rural Health Day in Minnesota

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 8:34 AM
Categories: Health

Governor Dayton has proclaimed today, November 17, 2011, as Rural Health Day in Minnesota, encouraging citizens to recognize the unique health care needs and opportunities that exist in rural communities.

Health care is a core economic foundation of many rural communities and regions. Meeting the unique health care needs of Minnesota's rural citizens requires innovation and resourcefulness that reaches beyond geographic boundaries or demographic challenges.

Today, Minnesota's rural health care provides are recognized for meeting those challenges and offering comprehensive, compassionate, patient-centered, and holistic care to patients.

To read the proclamation, click here.


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