For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Last week, the House took up the final version of the government Health Insurance Exchange bill. This legislation came back to the House after it had gone through both the Senate and conference committee. As I outlined previously, I have major concerns about how this legislation will restrict consumer healthcare choices, provide inadequate safeguards for the personal data the exchange will require from individuals, not to mention the increased costs on health insurance premiums. Please consider reading an article from today's Wall Street Journal which calls out the very same concerns experts in Minnesota have been stating for months - insurance costs will be going up as a result of the exchange! Unfortunately, this partisan bill passed the House without a single Republican having voted for it and has now been signed into law by the governor. As the governor stated at the TwinWest Chamber legislative meeting about the “gargantuan undertaking” costing well over $100 million in the biennium, “If it’s successful, your employees will be able to see where they can get better coverage at a lowest cost. But if that doesn’t work, then it’s going to be back to the drawing board with a lot of fury.”
In response to a better-than-expected budget forecast, Governor Dayton released his revised budget proposal last week. While I was pleased to hear that he dropped his business-to-business tax and expanded sales tax proposals, the governor’s new plan includes $1.1 billion from taxes on the top two percent of earners, $30 million of taxes on “snowbirds” (I know many within our district who 'fly the coop' for the winter!), $317 million of taxes on cigarettes, and a seven-county metro transit sales tax plan (which may increase from .25% to .5%). As previously mentioned, Carver County soundly rejected this tax in 2008! Unfortunately, Carver and Hennepin counties are still projected to be the top two counties in the state hardest hit by the fourth tier tax. You can count on me to remain steadfast in my opposition to increasing taxes on the hard-working families and businesses within our district! At a time when our neighbors are enacting policies to attract businesses to their states, our governor and DFL-controlled legislature should not be playing a game of 'chicken' with our business community. If that occurs, I am fearful our state will wind up on the losing end of a deeply misguided endeavor.
Last Friday marked the first and today marked the second committee deadline for hearing policy bills in the House. I must say that I'm somewhat disturbed by the break-neck speed with which bad legislation has flown through the committee process. In fact, I heard almost 40 bills in just two committees – Civil Law and Government Operations – last Friday alone. I am working as hard as I possibly can to represent you here in St. Paul. I've been inundated with calls and emails and, although I've not yet replied to everyone, please know that I've heard you and am grateful for your level of engagement. One constituent suggested that the legislature hold “listening” sessions versus hearings in which serious consideration is given to what individual citizens have to say versus special interest groups and Capitol insiders. I really like that idea!
IN-DISTRICT EVENTS AND CONSTITUENTS
Since my last update, when I wasn't in hearings or meeting with lobbyists on both sides of issues regarding bills I was considering, I met with Congressman Erik Paulsen, County Commissioner Jan Callison and all of the Hennepin County legislators, Superintendent Dennis Peterson and CASE [Community Action for Student Education] volunteers from Minnetonka Public Schools. I also met with and received updates from representatives from Bluff Creek Watershed District, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation - including about the upcoming highway improvement project which will be commencing this June at the intersection of Pleasant View Road & Highway 101 near our home in Chanhassen. Lastly, I've thoroughly enjoyed the many conversations and meetings I've had with constituents, which easily becomes the highlight of that day. Last week, I met with a constituent, Mallory, and several of her coworkers from CHOICE, a non-profit agency which supports people with intellectual disabilities. I look forward to inviting her back for a tour of the Capitol including the House chamber sometime before the end of the Session.
Once again, I want to thank those of you who have contacted me with your questions, comments, and concerns. If you missed my previous legislative updates, you can find them on my website. If you would like to weigh in on bills I’ll be hearing in committee, you can access the committee links via my homepage. Needless to say, things are heating up over here in St. Paul. As your representative, I want to hear from you so I am certain I am truly representing the district. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas for proposed legislation. I welcome your input! You can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact me by phone, call (651) 296-4315. Mail can be sent to Rep. Cindy Pugh, 313 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.
Please encourage your neighbors and friends within the district to sign up for my weekly email updates by clicking here and filling out your contact information. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you!