North Star Newsletter: Meeting with Minnesotans about Issues That Matter

Senator Al Franken
2017-02-28 14:15:17
North Star Newsletter: February 2017 Meeting with Minnesotans about Issues That Matter The other weekend, I traveled to Greater Minnesota to do a couple of my favorite things: meet with Minnesotans about the issues they really care about, and have some fun along the way. I went out to Lake Nisswa during the Nisswa Fire Department’s annual Ice Fishing Derby and met with a whole bunch of anglers about how the season is treating them. As expected when you’re out fishing, some of us got to talking about what’s happening in Washington and how it affects them. And a few of the biggest issues that I consistently hear about from rural Minnesota families is that we need to bring down prescription drug prices, boost jobs in rural communities, and bolster the agriculture economy across our state. So that same weekend, I made several stops to hear from Minnesotans about those very issues. I held a prescription drug roundtable with seniors and health providers in Brainerd where we discussed ways to bring down the cost of high-priced medications, including my bill to allow Medicare to negotiate better drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. This could save tens of billions of dollars a year and would keep more money in our seniors’ pockets. That meeting was very productive, and so were the two other events I held—one at a local manufacturer where we discussed training people for good-paying, in-demand jobs, and another in Onamia where I sat down with local farmers to get their input on the next Farm Bill. These are major priorities that affect Minnesotans in every corner of the state, and I can’t wait to keep working on them in the Senate. I’m proud to represent Minnesota families and I will never stop working hard on their behalf. Helping Homeless Students Access Housing There are too many young people and veterans in Minnesota and across the country who can't focus on their education because they don't know where they’re going to sleep at night. Nobody should have to face that kind of crisis—especially during a Minnesota winter. Unfortunately, right now the law does not allow people who are homeless or who’ve experienced homelessness to qualify for an important housing tax credit if they become full-time students. So, that leaves some young people and veterans forced to choose between getting an education and putting a roof over their head. That’s why I’ve introduced a commonsense, bipartisan measure with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to close that loophole and extend the housing credit to full-time college students—including student veterans—who can’t qualify for affordable rental housing even though they’ve had to endure homelessness. I’m glad that my fellow Minnesota lawmakers Keith Ellison and Erik Paulsen introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives, and I hope we can find some momentum to get this bill passed. We need to make sure Minnesota students who have faced homelessness can pursue an education. Reuniting Minnesota Families I’m very pleased we can say that a Minnesota family is now back together after a long separation. Mushkaad Abdi, a four-year-old girl who was living in Uganda, was finally reunited with her mother, Samira Dahir, and her two older sisters, who all live in Minnesota. But that reunion was threatened after President Trump issued an abrupt, misguided, and discriminatory executive order barring refugees and many immigrants from entering the United States. After that order came down, Senator Amy Klobuchar and I pressed the Department of Homeland Security to get Mushkaad to Minnesota and held a public event to express strong opposition to the order. Samira and Mushkaad’s story is one example of how the President’s order was dangerous, indefensible, and was hurting Minnesota families. And I’m glad that a federal court blocked the order, because this is not what our immigration policy should look like and this is not who we are as Americans. I recognize that the decision is not the final say on the matter, and that the President is expected to issue a new order in the immediate future. That’s why I’m going to be doing everything I can to keep fighting on behalf of Minnesota families. Providing Internet to Families, Veterans, and Seniors There is no question that access to broadband is essential to your daily life. Without it, it’s really difficult to pursue job and housing opportunities, find quality health care services, work on your education, and stay in touch with family. Last year, an important federal program called “Lifeline” began offering support to help millions of low-income families, military veterans, and seniors in Minnesota and across the country gain access to affordable broadband. But this month, Ajit Pai, the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decided to scale back this program, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do. I believe that, instead, we should be making strong investments in deploying broadband in order to bring reliable and affordable internet options to both urban and rural communities. So I’ve called on Chairman Pai to reconsider his decision to deprive a large number of Americans of the ability to more easily and affordably communicate, look for employment, finish their school work, and access news and information. To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here.

North Star Newsletter: February 2017

Meeting with Minnesotans about Issues That Matter

The other weekend, I traveled to Greater Minnesota to do a couple of my favorite things: meet with Minnesotans about the issues they really care about, and have some fun along the way.

I went out to Lake Nisswa during the Nisswa Fire Department’s annual Ice Fishing Derby and met with a whole bunch of anglers about how the season is treating them. As expected when you’re out fishing, some of us got to talking about what’s happening in Washington and how it affects them.

And a few of the biggest issues that I consistently hear about from rural Minnesota families is that we need to bring down prescription drug prices, boost jobs in rural communities, and bolster the agriculture economy across our state.

So that same weekend, I made several stops to hear from Minnesotans about those very issues. I held a prescription drug roundtable with seniors and health providers in Brainerd where we discussed ways to bring down the cost of high-priced medications, including my bill to allow Medicare to negotiate better drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. This could save tens of billions of dollars a year and would keep more money in our seniors’ pockets.

That meeting was very productive, and so were the two other events I held—one at a local manufacturer where we discussed training people for good-paying, in-demand jobs, and another in Onamia where I sat down with local farmers to get their input on the next Farm Bill.

These are major priorities that affect Minnesotans in every corner of the state, and I can’t wait to keep working on them in the Senate. I’m proud to represent Minnesota families and I will never stop working hard on their behalf.

Helping Homeless Students Access Housing

There are too many young people and veterans in Minnesota and across the country who can't focus on their education because they don't know where they’re going to sleep at night. Nobody should have to face that kind of crisis—especially during a Minnesota winter.

Unfortunately, right now the law does not allow people who are homeless or who’ve experienced homelessness to qualify for an important housing tax credit if they become full-time students. So, that leaves some young people and veterans forced to choose between getting an education and putting a roof over their head.

That’s why I’ve introduced a commonsense, bipartisan measure with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to close that loophole and extend the housing credit to full-time college students—including student veterans—who can’t qualify for affordable rental housing even though they’ve had to endure homelessness.

I’m glad that my fellow Minnesota lawmakers Keith Ellison and Erik Paulsen introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives, and I hope we can find some momentum to get this bill passed. We need to make sure Minnesota students who have faced homelessness can pursue an education.

Reuniting Minnesota Families

I’m very pleased we can say that a Minnesota family is now back together after a long separation. Mushkaad Abdi, a four-year-old girl who was living in Uganda, was finally reunited with her mother, Samira Dahir, and her two older sisters, who all live in Minnesota.

But that reunion was threatened after President Trump issued an abrupt, misguided, and discriminatory executive order barring refugees and many immigrants from entering the United States. After that order came down, Senator Amy Klobuchar and I pressed the Department of Homeland Security to get Mushkaad to Minnesota and held a public event to express strong opposition to the order.

Samira and Mushkaad’s story is one example of how the President’s order was dangerous, indefensible, and was hurting Minnesota families. And I’m glad that a federal court blocked the order, because this is not what our immigration policy should look like and this is not who we are as Americans.

I recognize that the decision is not the final say on the matter, and that the President is expected to issue a new order in the immediate future. That’s why I’m going to be doing everything I can to keep fighting on behalf of Minnesota families.

Providing Internet to Families, Veterans, and Seniors

There is no question that access to broadband is essential to your daily life. Without it, it’s really difficult to pursue job and housing opportunities, find quality health care services, work on your education, and stay in touch with family.

Last year, an important federal program called “Lifeline” began offering support to help millions of low-income families, military veterans, and seniors in Minnesota and across the country gain access to affordable broadband. But this month, Ajit Pai, the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decided to scale back this program, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do. I believe that, instead, we should be making strong investments in deploying broadband in order to bring reliable and affordable internet options to both urban and rural communities.

So I’ve called on Chairman Pai to reconsider his decision to deprive a large number of Americans of the ability to more easily and affordably communicate, look for employment, finish their school work, and access news and information.

To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page