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a e28 Thursday, March 21, 2013 News * www.tricoun Michelle Fischbach Minnesota State Senator All proceeds will he used to purchase new etluilmumt for the Kimball Fire Rt ae the lJall Week in review, March 15 This week at the Capitol there was and passed a final compromise. significant movement on a num- Some provisions were stripped out, ber of fronts. Governor Mark Dayton including a provision to require Leg- released his revised budget proposal islators to receive their health insur- in response to the state's most recent ance through the exchange as well budget forecast. That forecast, which as a prohibition on providing ab'or- showed the state's economy growing tion coverage in plans that are sold at a modest rate, showed an improved as a part of the exchange. The House budget picture for the state going for- passed the amended conference ward. The governor's revised budget proposal mirrors much of his original proposal with a few prominent dif- ferences, most strikingly the removal of the expansion of the sales tax on to services and clothing. The new plan also drops the governor's origi- nal proposal to provide a property tax rebate of $500 to each homeowner. As was the case in his first budget pro- posal, the governor increases income taxes on the state's top income bracket as well as proposes a $.94 per pack increase in the cigarette tax. The governor's proposal continues to call for an increase in state spend- ing of approximately 8 percent for the next biennium. This would increase the overall General Fund budget for the state to just under $38 billion for a two-year budget cycle. Other Happenings: The Jobs, Agri- culture, and Rural Economies Com- mittee passed two bills that would both increase the minimum wage. One proposal would simply increase Minnesota's minimum wage to match that of the federal rate of $7.50 per hour. Under current law, most Minnesota workers already make this amount, but it would provide an increase for some employees in the state. The other proposal, SF 3 (Eaton) would apply only to large employers and would increase the overall wage to $7.75 over a three-year span. Both bills were sent to the Senate Floor for possible action there. The Confer- ence Committee on H.F.5, the Min- nesota Health Care Exchange met committee report early Friday morn- ing. Final consideration in the Senate is scheduled for next week. I was honored to have two bills heard in the Senate Environment Committee this week which were aimed at helping homeowners and others impacted by the CapX 2020 energy project. Both the proposals, S.F.455 and S.F.674 were passed on to the Senate Floor where they await final action. This week in the Senate Higher Education Committee, Uni- versity of Minnesota President Eric Kaler presented a reportwhich looked in great detail at administrative costs within the University. The report showed a few areas of concerns with staffing ratios in certain departments and the president committed to fur- ther study on those identified areas. Also this week, I had the privilege of presenting S.F.940, which would cre- ate a veterans preference for admis- sions into graduate programs. The requirement would apply to insti- tutions with in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Because of the University of Minne- sota's Constitutional autonomy, the bill requests that the University also institute the preference for admission into their programs. Senator Michelle Fischbach encourages and appreciates constitu- entinput and can be reached byphone at (651) 296-2084, bymail to G 15 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155 or via e-mail at sen.michelle.fischbach @senate.ran. Danie| J. Vance New creative outlet for people .... with disabilities KIMBALL/MAIN OFFICE SAINT AUGUSTA OFFICE ATWATER OFFICE KANDIYOHI OFFICE 398-3500 251-6100 974-8861 382-6100 Timotheus Gordon and his new He said he has always wanted friend, Shanae Heard, want people to fit in socially, but either didn't with disabilities to be heard, seen, know how, or didn't know the right and read. Last November, they way for a particular situation. He beganAbilitysota.com, a websitefor has had difficulty finding people people with disabilities to show- with common interests who will case writing, poetry, music videos, accept him. photography, drawings, and paint- His friend Heard was born with ings. cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, "We are (technically called) and is "very bright," said Gordon. the Abilities of the Arts, or Abili- "She loves psychology, and can see tysota," said 25-year-old Gordon problems from more angles than in a telephone interview. Gordon the average person." and Heard met in June 2011 while "We have been getting good both were trying to submit work for responses," he said, referring to an online magazine. They enjoyed the website. "People like the con- talking about poetry and work, cept. Our struggle has been in and realized creative people with getting more content. We fea- disabilities had few platforms to ture photos, paintings, draw- showcase their talents, ings, videos, poetry, and different Gordonlives inAtlanta, Ga., and kinds of writing, such as short sto- has nearly completed a master of ries and blog postings of writing." fine arts degree at Savannah Col- Abilitysota.com, also has actively lege of Art and Design and already promoted krip-hop, whichis astyle has a bachelor's degree from the of hip-hop music performed by University of Minnesota. people with disabilities. So what are their disabili- The last several months have ties? Gordon said, "I have been brought him joy. He said, "With the diagnosed with high-function- website, I like seeing people from ing autism. I make good grades in not only the U.S., but also England, school and have strong interests in speaking out. They are using their social science, literature, poetry, abilities and talents to open peo- and football. When I was growing pie's eyes that people with disabil- up in Chicago, people would treat ities are just as talented as anyone melikeIwasanencyclopedia.They else and can be just as influential would go to me for questions and as an able-bodied person." would use me for my intelligence. Contact: danieljvance.com, But I didn't make friends easily and [Sponsored by Palmer Bus Service I often got teased for being smart." and LittleGiantFudge.com] www.harvestbankmn.com Member FDIC WWW,