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Dan Sparks: Thank you, Save Our Hospital, for visiting

Senate Report by Dan Sparks

Save Our Hospital, a citizen-led initiative here in Albert Lea, recently held a day at the Capitol in St. Paul. I want to thank everyone who took time away from their families, jobs and other obligations to participate.

Dan Sparks

Spending an entire day on the road and at the Capitol speaks volumes about the determination and commitment of our fellow Minnesotans, who are doing an outstanding job advocating for a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea. It is very moving and inspiring to see the community rally together to advocate for vital health care resources.

During my recent meeting with Save Our Hospital, we had a productive conversation about economic development strategies to attract another health care provider to the area. To that end, I have introduced legislation that establishes tax incentives to attract alternative providers to rural communities (Senate File 3812). If signed into law, the bill would exempt medical care facilities in underserved areas from paying sales and property taxes.

I am also very interested in expanding the rural residency program at the University of Minnesota and increasing funds for medical school loan forgiveness for physicians who practice in rural areas. It’s a common sense idea that will attract high quality medical talent to regions like southern Minnesota that are experiencing an extreme shortage of providers. Save Our Hospital can count on me to continue being a strong ally who is working for solutions at our state Capitol.

This week, state lawmakers like me will leave St. Paul for a one-week legislative recess. The mid-session milestone is an important opportunity to return to our districts, visit with our constituents and have face-to-face conversations about what we’ve been working on at the Capitol. The legislative recess also signals the passing of key deadlines for bills to advance in the legislative process. Under Minnesota law, “the Legislature shall establish by concurrent resolution deadlines for each regular session.” Deadlines help the Legislature narrow down the hundreds of bills introduced by lawmakers to proposals that have the best chance of becoming law.

Lastly, I am very pleased to report that the Senate unanimously passed new contracts for our outstanding state employees. The House also passed the legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Dayton this week.

Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is the District 27 senator.