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First Week of Session Update from Rep. Anna Wills
This last Tuesday, January 3rd, marked the start of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session. It is an honor to be representing our community in the House for another term. I look forward to working with my colleagues on health care and tax reform, as well as addressing transportation infrastructure this legislative session. Below is a brief overview of what went on during our first week.
Opening Day Ceremony
On Tuesday during our opening session, the oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. Representative Kurt Daudt was elected Speaker of the House once again by the legislative body, and I am grateful for his continued leadership.
Federal Tax Conformity
In our first normal session on Thursday, January 5th, House Republicans brought House File 2 (HF2) up for a vote, which brings Minnesota’s tax code into line with federal tax code. Federal tax conformity prevents any difficulty in filing your taxes by ensuring you don't need to make multiple changes on tax forms when filing both state and federal returns.
In addition to making the whole filing process more convenient, this measure will also mean $21.7 million in immediate tax relief for Minnesotans filing this year, including deductions for higher education, teacher classroom expenses, homeowners, and families putting money aside for college.
I am very pleased to say that this bill was passed unanimously by both sides of the aisle, as it has in previous years, and will likely move through the Senate quickly as well. The Department of Revenue has stated that this bill would need to be signed into law by January 11th in order for programs like TurboTax to be updated in time for tax season this year. It seems that there will be no trouble meeting this deadline. I am also hopeful that this will be the first of additional tax relief legislation, which should make its way through the legislative process later this session.
Health Care Assistance and Reforms
House File 1 (HF1) was also introduced in the House this Thursday, which would have provided immediate assistance to those threatened by the health care crisis through premium relief, continuity of care measures, and other reforms that build toward a long-term solution.
People insured by plans purchased on the individual market would have received a 25% reduction in their premiums for the first 3 months of this year, and an income-based reduction of 20-30% moving forward. There were also provisions that would have allocated funding for continuity of care, ended surprise billing, and reduced stop-loss limits to make it easier for small businesses to provide insurance for their employees. For-profit insurance companies would also have been allowed to operate in Minnesota under this legislation in order to increase competition in our insurance marketplace.
Another important aspect of this bill is that it would have required new plan rates to be release ten days after they are filed, improving transparency and allowing government officials more time to find solutions if rates skyrocket like they did this year. It was disappointing to see the House DFL go back on their agreement to pass the relief in HF1 without difficulty, so unfortunately this measure did not pass the House. I am dedicated to continuing to advocate for our community on this issue, and will keep you updated as we move forward.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 651-296-4306
. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills
. If you plan to stop by and visit me at the Capitol, my office is 491 in the State Office Building.
State Representative, District 57B