State Rep. Larry Howes' bill to keep Ah-Gwah-Ching nursing home open took a major leap forward when it passed Wednesday by a 132 to 0 vote in the House of Representatives.
The bill spells out the Legislature's intent that Ah-Gwah-Ching should remain open in its present location and helps clarify some admissions requirements for the facility.
"I'm excited that this bill has been such a success," Howes said. "It's important to me, and it's certainly important to those at Ah-Gwah-Ching. I've been happy to be a part of this process."
Howes has been working on the bill this session with several area residents who are concerned about keeping the facility open. John Grimley, former CEO of Ah-Gwah-Ching, was involved with the process and has even started a task force to look for alternative programs for Ah-Gwah-Ching and ensure the facility stays open.
Current law states the Department of Health commissioner cannot close state-operated facilities without legislative intent to do so. Howes' bill makes it clear it is not the Legislature's intent to shut down Ah-Gwah-Ching, and therefore would require legislative approval before the facility could ever be closed.
Kinkel supports wastewater treatment proposals
State Sen. Tony Kinkel, DFL-Park Rapids, last week announced his support for legislative proposals to provide wastewater treatment grants to rural communities.
"It seems ironic there's talk of using the surplus for what will amount to a small rebate per family when many rural communities don't have clean water for their residents to drink," said Kinkel. "The need for clean water is basic. It is government's job to provide adequate funding to support the immense wastewater needs in this state."
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports there is an estimated need for $1.8 billion in wastewater system improvements across the state. A bill authored by Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, would provide $400 million in low-interest loans and grants to communities for wastewater system upgrades. Several other wastewater treatment proposals are pending.
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