Minnesota House blocks vote on grants for measles outbreak

The Minnesota House on Monday blocked a measure that would have set aside $500,000 to help communities facing disease outbreaks, like the current spread of measles that has sickened more than 30 Somali-American children in Hennepin, Ramsey and Stearns counties.

The bill from Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, was introduced during a House floor session on Monday, skipping the usual committee hearing process.

Omar asked lawmakers to suspend the usual rules and take a vote on the bill, citing the urgency around the growing measles epidemic. Her proposal would set aside $500,000 for a two-year grant program, where communities at risk of or in the middle of an outbreak could seek help to get more people immunized against disease.

“The best thing we can do today is to act and make sure no more children are put in harms way,” she said.

Several other DFLers spoke in favor of the bill. But a handful of Republicans said the proposal hadn’t been properly vetted and wouldn’t do much to help with the current outbreak because the funding wouldn’t kick in until the start of the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“If I felt that passing this and suspending the rules would mean one person did not die, did not get sick, I would absolutely support suspending the rules,” said Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud. “But the idea of suspending the rules is that there is an emergency and we need to act now … none of money is available for at least two months.”

Omar’s attempt to suspend the rules and take a vote on her plan failed in a 59-73 vote. Lawmakers who opposed Omar’s proposal said they were willing to consider it as a part of broader debates over budget bills in the final three weeks of the legislative session.

Isha Ku Hay Alljubland Media

alljubbalandmedia@gmail.com


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