This past legislative session I authored legislation signed into law creating the Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) grant program. Study after study demonstrates the value of early education to school readiness and student success. Family, Friend and Neighbor grants promote children's literacy, healthy development, and foster community partnerships by investing in the quality of childcare in the homes of our extended families, neighbors and friends. A majority of Minnesota families rely upon FFN childcare. FFN grants are a smart investment in the early education.
I'm excited to report that the Department of Human Services recently released awards totaling $750,000 to six excellent organizations that applied for these grants. Here is some information about the programs these grants will fund for three organizations from the metro area:
Neighborhood House, St. Paul
Partners will develop culturally relevant services, interactive activities, and provide outreach and on-site programming and support group meeting opportunities at low-income housing sites. They will also offer training sessions on preventing child abuse.
Partners include: CommomBond Communities, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, the Children's Museum, and Resources for Child Caring Child Care Resources and Referral
Early Childhood Resource and Training Center, Minneapolis
This project plans to focus on American Indian providers and the children they care for in Minneapolis. Trainers will speak specifically to issues affecting the American Indian community. The program will make connections with providers using urban centers, clinics, and libraries.
Partners include: All Nations Early Education Center, Franklin Library, Native American Community Clinic, University of Minnesota Pediatrician and the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center
Library Foundation of Hennepin County, Minneapolis
This project will develop and implement a community outreach model utilizing current immigrant care providers and their families to build community relationships. Services will be connected to early childhood education programs, school districts, parent education programs and family services providers.
Partners include: Alliance for Early Childhood Professionals, Minneapolis Public Schools, NW Family Services Collaborative, City of Minneapolis Dept. of Health and Family Support, Hennepin County Child Care Licensing, Hennepin County Medical Center
Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
When I joined my freshman colleagues in the Minnesota House, I joined a chorus of voices advocating for health care for all. I have heard the same concerns, as did my classmates, that health care coverage is growing too expensive; people are paying more for less coverage or losing coverage outright; people are feeling insecure about getting the care they needed if, and when, they needed it, and they are expressing strong support for change.
Over the past several months, I have worked closely with other DFL lawmakers to evaluate policy ideas that will make affordable coverage available for all Minnesotans, improve the health of our population, and ensure that cost effective care is provided to the sick. These are the benchmarks that will guide me as the Legislature reviews its options next session and in the sessions to come.
As a registered nurse, I know how important health coverage is to a person's health, peace of mind and their financial security. I recall clearly my conversation with a woman being treated for cancer. She was scheduled to lose MNCare coverage resulting from state budget cuts. She did not know if she could continue her treatment. While some argue that everyone has coverage through Minnesota’s emergency rooms, this woman was left without options. How we care for the most vulnerable among us is an important measure of society and in the case of this woman, we failed.
My background in nursing is very useful in my new profession -- contemplating care delivery reform and helping to evaluate how the state's health policy decisions influence the care that people in Minnesota receive. As a lawmaker, I am still guided by the important values I developed as a practicing nurse: compassion, dignity, and the need to treat every patient with equality.
I am very encouraged about the transformative health care policy efforts underway. Over the past decade, the health care debate has divided those hoping to extend coverage to the uninsured against those opposed to expansion of public programs, like Minnesota Care. Our current health care crisis offers a unique opportunity to bridge that philosophical divide. We are beginning to realize that 100% coverage is less meaningful when that coverage is unaffordable for hard-working Minnesotans and their families. Affordable insurance requires real value for each dollar spent; a real effort to improve the health of our population through timely preventive care services; and real investments in our public health system. We have begun to understand the cost drivers of health care inflation and we are working to develop solutions to address those cost drivers. Health care costs that rapidly outpace a regular family's paycheck have resulted in the growth in the numbers of uninsured.
Not since the early 1990’s has the Minnesota Legislature engaged in an intentional and deliberative process on health care. With the passage of the Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill, the work of the Legislative Commission on Health Care Access (HCAC) and the Governor’s Transformation Task Force (Task Force) was set. By 2011, Minnesota must cut overall health care costs by 20% and extend coverage to all. These are noble and necessary goals.
Since July, the Task Force, the HCAC, and its eight working groups have engaged in a thorough examination of the current delivery, payment, and financing mechanisms. The eight working groups are as follows:
Cost Containment: Identify Health Care Costs and Savings, Health Care Home and Care of those with Chronic Conditions
Cost Containment: Restructure The Health Care System Through the Identified Savings
Development of New Cost Containment Strategies
Insurance Market Reform
Health Care for Long Term Care Workers
Single Payer Health Care
Bridging the Health Continuum
Each group was charged with discreet goals and working groups produced recommendations to the HCAC in early November. The recommendations can be found on the HCAC web page at www.commissions.leg.state.mn.us/lchca.
The HCAC will debate the recommendations, review fiscal notes tied to the proposals, and begin to assemble policy proposals. Upcoming meetings of the HCAC can be found on the HCAC web page.
The Governor’s Transformation Task Force continues to meet and will produce its recommendations at the start of next year. You can learn more about the work at
Throughout this process, I am working hard to ensure your views are well represented at the table. I served on the Governor’s Commission on Long Term Care and Vet’s Home. I also chaired a Legislative Health Care Access Commission Working Group with Senator Tony Lourey. This working group addressed cost containment, analyzed the idea of a health care home (a concept which Mayo Clinic physicians have found saves as much as 10 percent in total health care costs), and the need to improve care for those with chronic conditions. I am also a member of an additional working group studying the utility of voluntary pools as another reform option
We still have a lot of work ahead of us before the next legislative session begins in February. I invite you to share your health care ideas and questions with me at email@example.com. If you would like to receive email updates on our progress, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “health care e-updates” in the subject line. We will add you to the list.
Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
Friends and Neighbors~
There is lots of work ahead! Next week (11/28) the Legislative Commission on Health Care Access begins deliberations on work group recommendations. More action to come on health care soon. But for a few days, we can rest and reflect. I hope the holiday turkey is tasty, the guests engaging and the team of your choice wins. Have a delightful Thanksgiving. Erin
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
So what’s up with Rock Tenn?
The Rock-Tenn Corporation owns and operates the state's largest paper recycling plant in St. Paul. The factory lost a major power source this past summer when Xcel Energy shut down its steam line, transitioning from coal to natural gas. As a result, there is a major effort underway to identify a new energy source for the plant. Rock Tenn is an important part of Minnesota’s recycling effort and there are 500 living wage jobs at risk if a new source of energy is not employed.
The legislature, in the omnibus energy bill, funded a study process to identify potential energy sources. Both the Minnesota Department of Commerce, serving as a fiscal agent, and the St. Paul Port Authority are involved in the study. The legislation also created the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel to bring citizen voices to the discussion.
The RCAP, comprised of 15 local citizens, now holds public meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month to discuss and analyze options. By next spring, the RCAP is charged with bringing recommendations regarding a new fuel source to the St. Paul City Council.
There is great involvement in this process from our neighborhoods. Citizens are clear that the energy source selected must be clean in order to protect the health of the people. Finding a clean and affordable replacement for the steam that once fueled the operation is a major challenge. Because the Rock Tenn plant is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, a clean and sustainable energy source is critical. For the future of the plant, it must be affordable. And for our future, we must chart a course that is renewable. We are fortunate to have bright and engaged participants on the RCAP.
You can participate in this discussion. Visit www.rtadvisory.org. to learn more. The next RCAP meeting will be on Monday, November 26th at 7:00 p.m. at St. Anthony Park United Methodist Church in St. Paul. The meetings are open and well attended.
Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
Most Minnesotans love the four seasons we experience and fall is one of our favorites. It is also a predictably busy time of the year as we work on projects, hoping to finish or make progress before holidays and the cold of winter. As is typical, it is a busy fall.
Over the course of the interim, I have served on the Governor's Commission on Long Term Care, addressing the issues at the Minneapolis Vet's Home and the Minnesota Veteran's Homes. The Commission is addressing governance, care delivery and operational improvements and the future care of Minnesota Vets. I have learned a great deal about the funding of long term care, the differences between the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Vet's Home and about the challenges we face in caring for this population, especially considering the new returning vets from the war in Iraq. The Commission will meet one more time in November to finalize our recommendations. I am pleased with the work of the group and the concerted efforts to address the immediate issues in Minneapolis and the future of care delivery for Minnesota Vets. I look forward to sharing the recommendations with you.
I have attended a number of events in the past weeks preparing for the upcoming session.
Fresh Energy held an energy justice event and shared their agenda on justice, housing and energy conservation on the indian reservations in Minnesota.
Friends of the Mississippi is holding stakeholder meetings, dicussing the urban critical access area. I attended and listened to a variety of citizens and organizational representatives describe their experiences and ideas for the future. The meeting was constructive and folks in attendance had variety of ideas that would protect and enhance the river. Very Cool.
Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace held a forum entitled "Health Care in Crisis" and had speakers share perspectives on current reform discussions underway at the state capitol, models of financing in other nations and the ideas coming from the federal level. Senator John Marty spoke about his bill "The Minnesota Health Act" of which I am a house author.
The Wilder Foundation held its annual fundraising breakfast. We heard a number of stories of individuals whose lives are improved as a result of the work of the Wilder Foundation. Tom Kingston, Wilder Foundation CEO, reminded us of the growing gap in human and social services over the past five years and challenged all of us not to tire in our efforts to reach out and serve the least among us. I am grateful for the efforts of Wilder and its generous supporters. And I reminded of the work ahead to advance public policy to address the economic, social and educational inequities that foster continued poverty.
Finally, I attended the celebration of the lives and Paul and Sheila Wellstone, their daughter Marcia, and their staff and friends mary McEvoy, Tom Lappick and Will McLaughlin. The event was held at the College of St. Catherine and was a bittersweet celebration of the lives and contributions of those lost on October 25, 2002.
It is daylight savings time-- remember to turn your clocks back on Saturday night. I hope our paths cross soon. Don't hestiate to call or email! Peace, Erin
Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
One of the most important parts of my job as a state representative is to listen and express the views of the citizens in the district I am fortunate to represent. Our form of government is predicated upon a strong citizenry and when engaged together, we are mighty. I am grateful for the regular and thoughtful input I receive from our neighbors. I feel obligated to share information as well and I am developing the means to share more information more regularily. Welcome to my blog!
I will post updates here about my work in committees and in the community. There is so much happening this interim; health care policy development, transportation oversight, the Minneapolis Vets Home and the Rock Tenn Community Advisory Panel are among the many issues on which I am working. I will share more with you on these and other issues on the blog.
As always, I welcome your views and look forward to hearing from you.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 by Erin Murphy,