District 4 State Lawmakers Take Time to Listen, and Sometimes Learn, at Town Halls

District 4 State Lawmakers Take Time to Listen, and Sometimes Learn, at Town Halls Click to Enlarge

DETROIT LAKES, MN--State legislators from District 4 fielded a range of questions at a town hall in Detroit Lakes Tuesday night.

For a little over an hour, District 4 Senator Kent Eken of Twin Valley and District 4B Representative Paul Marquart of Dilworth, both Democrats, fielded questions for a little over an hour. Topics included conservation, medical assistance, jobs, child care, affordable housing and law enforcement.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL AND VETERANS

One gentleman in the audience asked the lawmakers about a piece of legislation circulating in St. Paul requiring people who receive medical assistance to work. Kyle Mechem asked if there were any efforts at the state level for employment services to assist people with mental health issues to get a job and help handle a work environment. He was alluding to a bill introduced by Republican Senator Mark Johnson of East Grand Forks that would require those receiving medical assistance to hold a job. (Kyle Meacham)**

Representative Marquart says legislators agree that to qualify for benefits able-bodied people need to work, but he says the controversy lies in the details in the legislation. Marquart says his concern with the bill is as it's written now, those with mental health issues and possibly veterans could lose their health care...**

Senator Eken said he heard on the town hall tour earlier the need for more workers and tied that into his response about the need for affordable health care which would be medical assistance for some of the workforce...

ACHIEVEMENT GAP

Citing the important time for brain development starts when children are infants to age 3, and early childhood and pre-k programs are not available to a considerable population of poor and minority groups which places Minnesota as one of the worst ranked states for the educational achievement gap among minority groups, Barb Faber from "Close the Gaps by 5" in Becker County asked the lawmakers whether they support Pre-k and early learning scholarships... (BARB FABER)**

Representative Marquart says he supports scholarships and flexible learning...**

Senator Eken says through his conversations with his constituents, contact and funding should be made available prenatal with those mothers whose children may be most at risk.**

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd earlier this year alerted local representatives to the legislation and urged the two lawmakers last night to oppose current legislation proposed that would eliminate vehicle forfeiture as a consequence...

Both legislators responded in agreement the police chief.

Senator Eken...**

Representative Marquart said he wasn't aware of the legislation until he received the email from Chief Todd alerting him about what's at stake....**

Marquart used the example of the Police Chief's email to him to urge constituents to contact their representatives at the State Capitol if they hear something they don't like or have questions.**

Senator Eken and Representative Marquart toured their district Tuesday and appeared at several Town Hall meetings. District 2 legislators, Senator Paul Utke of Park Rapids and 2B Representative Steve Green of Fosston, were invited to the Town Hall Tuesday in Detroit Lakes by the hosts the Detroit Lakes League of Women Voters but declined because the District 2 legislators will be holding one town hall meeting in Frazee on Thursday. That will begin at 6:30pm at the Frazee Fire Hall.


(**click on words highlighted with blue for audio)

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