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Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and together we can work to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. The pandemic has had a variety of impacts on our lives. We have all faced unforeseen challenges these last three years: economic uncertainty, supply-chain issues, school closures and everything in-between. The pandemic negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness.

Gene Dornink

My Republican colleagues and I in the Senate are making investments to ensure Minnesotans get the care they need. One program that is proven success is mobile crisis services, which are teams of mental health professionals working with individuals in their own homes. Mobile crisis services provide a rapid response and work to assess the individual, resolve crisis situations and link people to needed services. We are also implementing a pilot program for mental health urgent care facilities. These facilities would allow medical professionals to quickly provide mental health care and create mental health “urgency rooms” for Minnesotans experiencing mental health crises.

While adults have reported mental health concerns stemming from the pandemic, our children have been struck with school closures and distance learning, the inability to interact closely with friends, stress and loneliness. To address our children’s growing mental health concerns, we are investing in school-linked mental health grants. These school-connected clinical mental health treatments help improve outcomes for children with a mental health diagnosis and improve the identification of mental health issues.

After years of COVID restrictions, we have learned that school shutdowns and distance learning have had a devasting impact on our children’s education. Currently, only about one-half of students are reading at grade level. We need to provide teachers and students with the tools and resources to recover from past learning losses.

The Senate passed legislation to invest in improving literary. It is critical that our children know how to read. One program with over a decade of proven success is the LETRS instructional program. This program provides teachers with the tools necessary to master the fundamentals of reading instruction. Working together, we can increase reading proficiency to 90% within five years using the tools we already have, which are proven to be successful.

Every Minnesotan deserves to have a quality education and live in a safe community. The Senate has made investments in recruiting new officers and retaining the men and women from our community. We also increase penalties for criminal activity to send a clear message that repeat and violent offenses will not be tolerated.

I want to thank our law enforcement officers for working to keep our communities safe and our educators for continuing to mold the next generation. We appreciate all your hard work and dedication, especially over the last few years. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I also want to thank all the moms who work tirelessly to make our communities better!

Next week, the House and Senate will meet in conference committees to negotiate legislation each chamber passed. I have the honor of serving on the Agriculture & Housing Conference Committee, and I will be working hard to ensure we pass meaningful legislation that helps greater Minnesota. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance. Give me at 651-296-5240 or send me an email at [email protected] 

Republican Gene Dornink is the District 27 senator.

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