491 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895
Legislative Update from Rep. Anna Wills
This has been quite a week! Monday was my first day back from maternity leave, and while I’ll miss my sweet babies back at home, it was refreshing to get back to work at the Capitol for our district.
Insurance Premium Reforms
On Monday, we passed a second step towards reforming our insurance market, HF5, the Minnesota Premium Security Plan. This bill would stabilize premium rates by having the state mitigate the impact of individuals deemed “high risk” by insurance providers on the individuals market. This would result in premiums reducing by 17-18%, and prioritizes people with serious health conditions. I was pleased to vote in favor of this bill, which passed with bipartisan support, and hope it will pass the Senate shortly.
Empowering Local Schools and Educators
On Thursday, the House passed a measure that would remove the “Last In, First Out” policy for Minnesota schools when they have to cut teachers. This bill, HF1478, would require individual school boards to negotiate with their teacher’s union representatives and decide for themselves what their policies will be when dealing with teacher cuts, instead of the current default in state statutes to simply dismiss the most recently hired teacher.
If the school board and local bargaining unit determine that “LIFO” is the best choice for their schools, that is acceptable; if they decide to use evaluations and student outcomes to determine this, that is also fine! Next to parental involvement, having effective teacher in the classroom has the greatest impact on student outcomes; this bill means that each school board is now able to decide this alongside their teachers how to best achieve this for students. HF1478 passed the House, and has been sent to the Senate.
Legislator Pay Raises
Back in 2014, House Democrats passed a referendum for the 2016 ballot what would set up a citizen Legislative Salary Council that would set legislator pay. My Republican colleagues and I voted no to put the measure on the ballot. This referendum passed with an overwhelming majority of public support on last year’s ballot, thus establishing the Council. We have recently been informed that the Council has recommended a significant pay increase for legislators, from the current $31,140/year to $45,000/year and would be the first legislative pay raise since 1999. House Speaker Kurt Daudt announced yesterday that the House does not intend to fund these pay raises, and that this money would be better spent in providing tax relief, lowering health care costs, strengthening our schools, and repairing our transportation infrastructure.
Governor Dayton’s Line in the Sand
Earlier this week Governor Dayton sent a letter to legislative leadership in which he stated he is willing to shut down our state government if budget bills to not meet his requirements. This sort of all-or-nothing stand when budget bill negotiations have barely even started is alarming. This year the House and Senate set final deadlines earlier for budget bills in the hope that it would allow more time for negotiating with the Governor’s Office, and allow the administration to be more involved in the conference committee process. We in the House remain committed to negotiating with Governor Dayton to reach compromises that benefit as many Minnesotans as possible.
My Bills Hearings
This week I presented three of my bills in committee:
- My Legacy funding request for the Minnesota Zoo, HF1662, received a hearing in the Legacy Committee on Monday and was laid over for possible inclusion in the House Legacy omnibus bill.
- My bill, HF745, that would rename the Coates bridge over Hwy 52 after fallen solider Corporal Benjamin S. Kopp, was heard in Transportation Finance on Wednesday and was sent to the Ways and Means Committee.
- My bill, HF215, expanding the sales tax exemption for certain non-profits at events from five days to ten days was heard in the Taxes Committee on Thursday and was laid over for possible inclusion in the Tax omnibus bill.
Dakota County “Get Jobs Fair”
On March 30th
, Dakota County will be holding a jobs fair at the Eagan
Civic Arena from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM. The Eagan Civic Arena is located at 3870 Pilot Knob Road in Eagan,
and more information can be found at this link: https://mn.gov/deed/events/gjjf17.jsp
Town Hall Thank You
Thank you to everyone who came out to the joint town hall meeting last Saturday hosted by myself, Rep. Erin May-Quade, and Sen. Greg Clausen. We had an amazing turn-out of over 200 people, which shows that there is a great interest among the public in many important issues and what's happening in our local government. Your questions and feedback were greatly appreciated! Unfortunately, we were unable to get to all of your questions, so we will be sending out responses to the unanswered questions in an upcoming email update. If you were unable to attend, see the attached document with a handout of bills authored by Senator Clausen and myself that we had available at the Town Hall.
It was a great first week back, and I had several constituents stop by my office to chat about their policy concerns and priorities:
On Tuesday, I had the chance to visit with Conni regarding retirement and insurance challenges for those with disabilities.
Andrew also stopped by the Capitol to discuss homelessness issues with me.
On Wednesday, Gabe visited my office to discuss early childhood education.
I also enjoyed getting to visit with John from our district, and others, for Co-op Day at the Capitol.
On Thursday, teachers from District 196 stopped by to discuss education issues.
In addition, Robin stopped by to talk about homelessness in Dakota County.
Keep in Touch
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at email@example.com
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.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
State Representative, District 57B