The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 18, 2013

Shelter for homeless right start

The Mankato Free Press

---- — To Mankato civic leaders for, once again, stepping up to address a growing demand for shelter by homeless women.

The needs appears to be dramatic and continuing even though the Theresa House, Welcome Inn shelters and the CADA House program for domestic abuse victims stand ready to fill part of the demand.

The Mankato Salvation Army has approached the city of Mankato for assistance in doubling its current capacity of cold weather shelter beds by adding 23 beds for women, matching the number it currently provides for men.

The City Council voted to approve $75,000 to help remodel the Salvation Army’s existing thrift store at its downtown location in the new women’s shelter.

Salvation Army Capt. Mike Parker told the council that the three other agencies have to turn away people who are in need of local shelter. The aim of the new shelter would be focused on single women and be operated much like the men’s shelter, mostly in the colder months during the evenings and overnight.

The city would be allocating part of its $320,000 in federal money it receives as part of its affordable housing allocation.

The need for this service appears great. The community is again taking a positive step to address it.

Cancer education

To actress Angelina Jolie for sharing her personal story about cancer prevention. No matter how you may feel about celebrities and their many causes, it took a lot guts for Jolie to share very personal information about her decision to have a double mastectomy as a cancer-prevention measure.

Jolie was very clear about the fact she has the genetic mutation (BRCA1) that greatly increases the likelihood of her getting breast and/or ovarian cancer. Her mother died of ovarian cancer at age 56.

Sharing her personal story could save lives of women who have a strong family history of cancer and may have been unaware of the genetic testing available. With the help of genetic counseling, perhaps followed by the testing, women can get the information needed to make educated decisions about their health care.

Jolie’s candidness is sharing her experience had to be difficult but will help educate women and motivate them to start conversations with their doctors about their cancer risks.

Jobs bill will help outstate businesses

To Rep. Bob Gunther’s changes to the Legislature’s jobs bill, which will put Greater Minnesota in a better position to compete for new business subsidies.

The Fairmont Republican helped craft the final bill, making changes that provide for unique challenges faced by outstate business owners.

Under the final version of the bill, companies in the metro area must have 200 employees to qualify, but only 75 in Greater Minnesota. And jobs must pay about $34,000 in the metro area but only $26,000 outside the metro. And Greater Minnesota companies get more years of property and sales tax relief – seven and a half years compared to five in the metro.

The jobs bill, the successor to the JOBZ program, is aimed at allowing Minnesota businesses to compete with other states

The bill finally adds money for jobs programs after the program was cut in the previous two budget cycles.

Gunther also inserted spending of $200,000 a year to help nonprofits in southern Minnesota train entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. There are several such efforts in the Twin Cities but none in Greater Minnesota.

Gunther’s ability to work with the majority party to make important changes to a jobs bill that will allow outstate businesses to compete on a more equal footing should be applauded.

Medicare fraud prosecutions justified, needed

Buried amidst the IRS and Associated Press grilling by congressional oversight committee this week was news from Attorney General Eric Holder the federal government charged 100 people, including 14 doctors and nurses, for Medicare fraud amounting to about $223 million in eight cities.

Such scams are costing the program between $60 billion and $90 billion annually and stopping them is key to paying for the health care overhaul. While that’s definitely good news, it will be necessary to aggressively seek out these cases to hit the goal Obamacare needs to be funded sufficiently.