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Session 2003

Session 2003: Health and Welfare

Women will need to receive information starting July 1 about the risks and alternatives to abortion, then wait 24 hours before having the procedure done. A similar proposal made it through the Legislature in recent years, but was stopped by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty mostly got his way in proposed changes to Minnesota's welfare system. Modeled on Wisconsin's system, the state's new approach will steer applicants into intensive job-search efforts before giving them cash grants. The bills will also allow fewer activities to count as "work" and include harsher sanctions for those who don't follow them. Mothers who have additional children while they're receiving welfare also wouldn't get additional state help.

The Senate Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved a bill on Friday that would dramatically change how the state provides health coverage to lower income Minnesotans. On a 4-2 vote, the committee approved a portion of the Senate health and human service budget proposal that would reduce services available rather than limit eligibility for state coverage. The bill is modelled after a program in Oregon. (04/04/2003)
The Minnesota House has passed a bill that would require abortion providers to give women seeking an abortion 24 hours before the procedure is done. Supporters say the measure will ensure that women have all of the available information before they have an abortion. Opponents say the bill is filled with bad information and is an attempt to restrict the procedure in the state. (04/01/2003)
The debate over taxes at the state Capitol is heating up on several fronts. A key Republican lawmaker is proposing a $1 increase in the state's cigarette tax. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll consider the idea, because the money would be used to offset another tax. And the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is the first interest group to come forward with a specific proposal to raise taxes since Pawlenty released his budget. (03/31/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been clear that he intends to use the three anti-tobacco endowments to help bridge the state's more than $4 billion deficit. The Legislature must still approve the plan, but using money from the state's tobacco settlement is likely to pass if other states' actions are indicators. While the governor says there will still be money appropriated for helping those addicted quit smoking and preventing others from starting, there's one group that'll disappear: "Target Market," a program for teenagers. (03/31/2003)
The Minnesota Department of Health is withdrawing proposed rules that would clearly explain to the public their collection of health care billing records. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dianne Mandernach said concerns raised by citizens and lawmakers prompted the decision, but added that the department would continue to study the issue. (03/21/2003)
A national survey on employers and health insurance coverage released Thursday is from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other organizations. We look at the healthcare system, healthcare reform, and the number of uninsured Americans today. Many business leaders say that the number of uninsured will rise in the coming months. March 10th through 16th is "Cover the Uninsured Week". ( 03/13/2003)
Some vulnerable seniors in Minnesota would feel the pinch of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget cuts. Pawlenty's plan to fix the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit includes elimination of state funding for a number of senior services, including the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs. (03/11/2003)
County commissioners and other local leaders are looking for ways to cope with the funding cuts in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget. The governor's spending plan calls for cuts in many programs to fill a $4.2 billion shortfall. As debate over the proposal heats up, some officials are questioning the long-term affects, especially in social programs. (03/10/2003)
A new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that one in five Minnesotans had no health insurance for at least a portion of 2001 and 2002. The organization released the figures as part of Cover the Uninsured Week. The foundation, along with business, labor and political leaders are joining together in hopes of finding a way to lower health care costs. (03/10/2003)
A bill that would require women to wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion has cleared its first hurdle in the Minnesota House. The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved the bill on a 12-4 vote. (03/04/2003)
A new Minnesota Public Radio-St. Paul Pioneer Press poll finds strong support for a law that would require a woman to wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion. The Minnesota Legislature has debated the waiting period for several years. Supporters say the bill would give women time to fully understand the procedure. Opponents say the bill does little except create restrictions for women who seek out the procedure. (02/28/2003)
Hundreds of people with disabilities and their caregivers were at the Capitol on Wednesday to protest proposed budget cuts. They say Gov. Pawlenty's budget plan would cut services for people with disabilities by four percent. They say the state already cut community-based programs for people with disabilities by $63 million earlier this year. (02/26/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty began a weekly radio show Friday, and prepared to do battle with critics of his budget proposal. Three days after the release of his budget, Pawlenty is coming under fire from groups affected by his proposed budget cuts. Pawlenty is calling on Minnesotans who support his no-tax-increase pledge to join the debate. (02/21/2003)
Social service providers are looking for ways to cope with funding cuts in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget. The governor's spending plan eliminates health insurance coverage for many people who are working, but poor. Some services will merge, and health care premiums for those who are covered will increase. (02/20/2003)
State officials say they don't know how more than 1,000 families are faring after being dropped from the Minnesota welfare system last July. Anti-poverty activists and social service providers say they believe the cutoffs are a major setback for those families. (02/20/2003)
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Audio Highlights

The human services budget
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services and Corrections Budget Division; and Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. (5/16/03)
Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address
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