Legislator of the Year Award 2017

Senator Amy Klobuchar 

Since arriving in the UnitedImage result for amy klobuchar senator States Senate, Senator Klobuchar has been a staunch advocate for equitable resources and supports for all Minnesotans. As the 1st woman elected to represent the State of MN in the United States Senate, Senator Klobuchar’s has made it her mission to fight for legislation that supports the basic rights of all human beings such as ensuring safe communities, access to both mental health care and overall healthcare coverage, educational opportunities, so much more.

Senator Klobuchar has a proven record of fighting for social justice and ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity and worth. For example, she has been a champion for quality, affordable and accessible healthcare. She has been a strong voice of opposition to proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act related to funding cuts to Medicaid. Children represent 46% of the beneficiaries of Medicaid and approximately $4-5 billion of Medicaid funds flow to school districts every year so that they can make sure students with disabilities receive the supports they need to learn. In addition, Senator Klobuchar has shown support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act which extends healthcare coverage to children who do not qualify for Medicaid and whose families cannot afford private insurance. Although the Senate did not initially extend this law when it expired on September 30, 2017, Senator Klobuchar has consistently supported CHIP and was a cosponsor of the Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act, which passed extending funding for this vital program through 2019. She also recognizes the need for and has fought for equal coverage by insurance companies in the treatment of mental health.

Furthermore, the Senator’s educational priorities have included early childhood education, support of ESSA especially in the area of reducing chronic absenteeism, preventing truancy and decreasing the student dropout rates have been vital. In addition, Senator Klobuchar supported a $275 million increase in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants to states—passed in March of 2018—to help students with disabilities receive the services they need to achieve their educational goals and to begin reducing the burden on school districts that have had to redirect resources from their general education budgets to cover the shortfall in education funding for those with disabilities. As we all know, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes specific requirements to ensure that students with disabilities receive the services they need to achieve their educational goals but the commitment to fully fund the IDEA has never been met but this recent funding increase is a step in the right direction. At the same time, Senator Klobuchar has appreciated and respected the contributions of school social workers in identifying and effectively addressing the emotional, social needs and academic needs of students that can impact a child’s educational success.

Another issue that is impacting many of our school communities is the increase in human trafficking. Two pieces of legislation that have had a profound impact on protecting women and supporting victims of sexual and domestic violence are the Victims of Trafficking Act where Senator Klobuchar was the Lead Sponsor and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act where she was a co-sponsor. As School Social Workers, we have taken on leadership roles in our efforts in creating trauma informed schools as a means to prevent and enact evidence based interventions to support students who vulnerable to and have been victims of trauma. The pieces of legislation I mentioned supports the work that we do.

Finally, she has been outspoken against President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Although Congress has yet to pass a clean bill that would protect Dreamers, Senator Klobuchar’s determination to protect these young people is evident in her ongoing advocacy on this issue.

As you can see, these are just a few of the reasons why MSSWA felt it was essential to honor Senator Klobuchar with the 2017 MSSWA Legislator of the Year Award. As an organization we appreciate her fortitude and perseverance as a champion of social justice.

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