The Minnesota House and Senate will soon be back in session to deal with the many challenges facing residents of Scott County and around the state. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, thousands of people have lost their jobs, their health care, and perhaps even their housing. The additional shock following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has caused a public outcry reverberating around the world about how we treat residents with black and brown skin. The disparities in our communities affecting people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds have never been so clearly drawn. This is a time for each of us to dig deep and bring our best ideas and human skills to address the many challenges we are experiencing. Our elected representatives cannot solve all these issues, but we need improvements in health care, plans to reopen our schools, a bonding bill that will create jobs, and new approaches to help us repair our social safety net.

The Legislature is now providing insulin at affordable prices to residents. This was a good first step. Now we need to broaden this approach so that most other major drugs can be included under an expanded plan. For many families where one or more members face mental health issues, we need both short-term and long-term solutions from the Legislature to provide equal funding for treatment of both mental and physical conditions. With discussions at the national level to cut funding for medicare and other medical insurance for people earning low wages, the leaders of our Minnesota Senate should ensure that current legislation will provide equal or improved federal funding for our health care needs. All of us are more productive if we are receiving proper care.

The Legislature will provide direction on how best to re-open our schools this fall. We know that the Department of Education is working on policies and guidelines to be released at the end of July. And all of our schools are currently developing plans that will address the concerns of students, teachers, staff, and residents. Our schools are involved in so many support functions for our community — child care, providing meals for students, before and after school programs, and community education to meet the needs of students, families, and residents. The Legislature has provided funding for many school initiatives, but they may want to consider additional needs that will occur when we reopen schools in the next several months.

The bonding bill has been under consideration for many months. Hopefully our representatives will be able to fund projects that will help communities through out the state to meet their basic services, as well as some larger community projects. But even after the Legislature wraps up their work, we are only at the beginning of the many issues we will need to consider. We are still learning how the virus is spread, how best to treat the disease, how to protect our selves, and what combination of drugs and treatments will most effectively keep people of all ages alive and engaged as citizens. We have miles to go before we let our guard down.

Thanks to all of our private and community organizations and institutions that are focused on helping us through this pandemic and other challenges. I hope we all are making financial donations or volunteering time to help provide food, services, and support to families and individuals with various needs. We can support each other and provide our best ideas and suggestions to make our community more welcoming, supportive, and engaged during this crisis.

Lloyd Erbaugh lives in Prior Lake with his wife. He focuses on diversity, training, recruiting and team performance.

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