For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update on recent actions and notable events happening at the Capitol.
HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:
2017 Session Begins
With my guest Nadia Shahlow of Eden Prairie during the opening of the 2017 legislative session. Nadia was the first student I mentored as part of the STRIVE program at Eden Prairie High School.
The 2017 legislative session began on Tuesday, January 3rd, and I expect this to be a fast-paced session as we work to craft a responsible state budget that funds our key priorities including education, transportation infrastructure and caring for our most vulnerable. In addition, addressing ongoing problems with MNsure, making health insurance and health care more affordable for families and passing a comprehensive tax relief package will all be important priorities for House Republicans this session.
With so many issues and initiatives under consideration during the legislative session, I hope you will contact my office to share your thoughts, opinions and suggestions about what you would like to see happen this year. Your input is invaluable and helps me better serve the people and priorities of Eden Prairie. I am here to serve you!
Last Thursday, our first day of legislative business, the House got right to work, declaring an urgency and passing House File 2 which conforms Minnesota’s state tax code to that of the federal government. This legislation will provide $21.7 million in immediate tax relief for hardworking Minnesotans and will also help avoid unnecessary complications for early filers.
Included in the legislation are provisions that provide deductions for higher education expenses, teacher classroom expenses, and mortgage insurance premiums.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue requested this bill be signed into law quickly in order to update tax filing software programs like TurboTax and H&R Block, as well as have the state ready to accept tax returns beginning January 23rd—the same as the federal Internal Revenue Service. I am pleased to report the Senate passed the tax conformity bill yesterday and it was sent on to Governor Dayton’s desk for his signature.
House File 1
House Republicans introduced House File 1 last Thursday, also known as The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill, to address a crisis for many people in our community who purchase their own health insurance in the marketplace and have seen their premiums skyrocket and provider access be severely limited. The legislation provides direct premium relief to people struggling with unaffordable monthly premium costs, and institutes key reforms to increase access and transparency within the market.
The legislation provides a one-time $285 million appropriation from our budget reserve for premium reductions that would be administered through Minnesota’s Office of Management and Budget. The money, which would be available to those who do not receive federal tax credits, would provide a 25 percent premium reduction for the first three months of 2017, followed by a tiered percentage return based on income for the remainder of the year.
Additionally, the legislation funds $15 million for the continuity of care to help preserve care for patients with serious conditions who are losing access to their doctor; allows for-profit HMOs to enter the market to increase competition; and ends surprise billing.
HF 1 is moving through the committee process as quickly as our procedures will allow, while providing the public the opportunity to testify to keep the process open and transparent. I expect the bill to make its way back to the House Floor for a vote soon, so we can begin unraveling our state’s MNsure mess and implement both short and long-term fixes to this serious problem.
Another important issue for Minnesotans is Real ID. Our state is currently not in compliance with this federal law or on the path to compliance, which means that after January 22, 2018, a Minnesota-issued driver’s license would not be valid identification to fly domestically. If on the path to compliance, the Department of Homeland Security would grant an extension until 2020.
The Real ID compliance bill, House File 3, was heard in legislative committees this week, and features a two-tier system so that those with concerns about Real ID requirements can opt out and still obtain a traditional driver’s license. Additionally, for those who would need to upgrade to a Real ID-compliant state identification card before their regular license renewal date, their second ID card would be free of charge.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed by our state so citizens do not face undue burdens while flying. I expect this legislation to be passed quickly so our state can begin taking the necessary steps to upgrade our state-issued identification options.
Association of Metropolitan School Districts Event
Speaking at the AMSD 2017 legislative preview last week.
Last Friday, I attended the 2017 Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) legislative preview. It was great to hear from our metro school districts about their priorities for the session, and as Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, I will work hard this session to pass an education budget that responsibly funds our schools to get the best possible outcomes for our students.
Improving student learning, funding our schools, closing the achievement gap and implementing meaningful reforms are all on the agenda for 2017. Receiving input from school districts, parents, educators and students is invaluable, as it takes partnership among all interested parties to ensure students can receive a world-class education right here in Minnesota.
If I can be of assistance to you with a state government matter, please feel free to contact me. I always welcome your views, questions and suggestions on issues of interest or concern. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call my office at 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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