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ENEWS: On Renewable Goals, Suspension Data, and Minnesota Care

Date Published: 03/10/2018

Author: Dane Smith

Major Progress on Renewable Goals

Evidence continues to mount showing big strides in Minnesota toward cleaner, more efficient energy. The 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook listed these highlights in its Minnesota's report:  We now rank 9th out of all 50 states for overall energy efficiency programs (up from a rank of 10th place last year). In 2017, annual solar capacity additions surpassed wind energy additions for the first time. Clean energy is now our 2nd largest electricity source, recently overtaking nuclear.  To top it off, big buzz was generated last week with the news that Minnesota has met its Renewable Energy Standard – seven years ahead of schedule.  Check out Gov. Dayton's statement on the Renewable Energy Standard which also mentioned the report. Read more about the report findings from MPR News and the Star Tribune.

New Data on Race Gap in School Suspensions

A new study from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights reveals that students of color comprise 31 percent of our state student population, yet receive 66 percent of all suspensions and expulsions.  And while students with disabilities comprise 14 percent of the population, they receive 43 percent of those sanctions.  Excluded from the data were situations where physical safety was a concern, or the student was fighting or in possession of a weapon or illegal drugs. The department found that 55 percent of all suspensions in the state were the result of a subjective judgment made by school officials.  The gap represents a systemic human rights violation because research also shows a strong correlation between suspensions and the racial achievement gap.  Students who are absent from the classroom are less likely to graduate and achieve success later in life.  Many school districts have begun to tackle this difficult challenge and MDHR has initiated efforts with 43 districts to reduce these disparities.  A Star Tribune article on the study reported that statewide, student expulsions had fallen by half over the past few years and Mounds View Public Schools hasn't expelled a student since the 1970s.

MinnesotaCare “Buy-In” Makes Sense for Greater MN

For Minnesotans struggling to find affordable health care, Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a “buy-in’’ option for MinnesotaCare, a highly regarded 26-year-old program that was created with bipartisan consensus under Republican Gov. Arne Carlson to help provide coverage for low-income working families.  The MinnesotaCare Buy-In would reduce costs and improve access for an estimated 100,000 more Minnesotans, disproportionally those in Greater Minnesota, who purchase their own health insurance on the individual market. Unlike traditional MinnesotaCare enrollees who receive subsidized coverage, individuals who choose MinnesotaCare Buy-In would pay their own way – meaning the cost of their premiums would pay for their coverage.  This initiative is necessary because Minnesota is starting to backslide on coverage.  After previously reaching a historic low of 4.3 percent in 2016, according to the Minnesota Health Access Survey, our uninsured rate increased to 6.3 percent in 2017, leaving more than 349,000 Minnesotans without health coverage. 


“I have heard from farmers who pay more than $40,000 out-of-pocket before they get any help from their health insurance, while other farmers cannot afford any coverage at all. A MinnesotaCare Buy-In would provide another option to help ensure that farmers and other small business owners can get the quality health insurance coverage they need.” Gary Wertish, President, Minnesota Farmers Union.

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