Continuing Mayo Clinic dialogue

Published 9:19 am Monday, August 28, 2017

By Rep . Penny Bennett

On Monday (Aug. 21), I met with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services, and Minnesota Department of Commerce, as well as officials from the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County, to continue dialog between all stakeholders as Mayo moves forward with plans to reorganize services between the Austin and Albert Lea campuses.
I want to thank Attorney General Swanson and other agency officials for making the effort to learn more about this important decision that will impact our area and our state. Although no firm decisions were made at the meeting, I felt as though we had a productive discussion and was grateful officials from the state took the time to listen to our local concerns.

Also on Monday, Mayo Clinic Health System announced a multi-million dollar series of investments in the Albert Lea campus. According to Mayo Clinic, the investments include upgrades to the Cancer Center, a new campus cooling system, building short stay observation beds, and improving diagnostics in radiology equipment, among others.
I’m extremely pleased to see further investment in our local hospital, especially with the building of short stay observation beds, which was one of our local requests.

While I appreciate these investments Mayo is making in our Albert Lea Campus, concerns remain about a reduction in other services in the future. I will continue working with Mayo representatives, local government officials, and citizen groups as we seek to ensure a stable, sustainable campus that helps our residents keep their jobs and health services they need. I look forward to continuing these discussions as this process moves forward.

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I reached out to the governor’s office on Wednesday to ask if Gov. Mark Dayton or Lt. Gov. Tina Smith would consider coming to Albert Lea to hear area concerns. I was able to speak to their chief of staff, but, unfortunately, their schedules won’t allow them to visit in the near future. This is such an important issue that I’ll continue to try and reach out to as many officials as possible to ensure the best outcome for our area and our residents.

School supply tax relief

Our local students are heading back to school, which can mean expensive supply shopping. Thankfully, there’s help for some working families. The state has certain tax benefits for many school supplies like writing utensils, textbooks, and more. There are certain parameters families must meet. Full details are available at
As a former teacher, I know how school supply lists, musical instruments, and more can be a weighty purchase for parents, and can stretch family budgets to the limit. This tax benefit is an important way for working families to help offset those school-related costs. If you qualify, be sure to keep those receipts!