For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
As budget deadlines approach, we're slowly getting even busier at the State Capitol.
Here are a few things you might need to know this week:
FEDERAL HEALTH CARE LAW
Congressional Republicans recently unveiled their replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
There are many problems with the bill, which will almost certainly lead to higher premiums and lower-quality care. But from a state legislator's perspective, one of the worst parts is the block granting of Medicaid, something I warned about on Facebook a few weeks ago.
Block granting of Medicaid means only one thing: Less money for Minnesotans. That method of delivering Medicaid funds to Minnesota will blow a billion dollar hole in our budget, a gap we will have to close either by raising your taxes or kicking poor people off their health insurance. Neither of those are good options.
I sincerely hope our members of Congress will reject this bad legislation and protect the vulnerable Minnesotans who depend on Medical Assistance to survive. My work as a state legislator will be directly impacted by what they choose to do.
PREEMPTION AND GOOD JOBS
On Thursday, the Minnesota House passed HF 600, which would prevent local communities from setting pro-worker policies such as earned sick leave, paid family leave, fair scheduling, and a higher minimum wage, among others. The bill would also roll back earned sick time for 150,000 Minnesotans and prevent future wage and benefit increases in communities across the state.
Committee hearings on HF 600 drew strong criticism from a broad variety of Minnesotans including nurses, faith leaders, labor leaders, city officials, neighborhood groups, and workers.
I voted against this legislation, and Governor Dayton has said he will veto it. We should be doing everything we can to lift up your wages and benefits, not tear them down.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BOARD
Water quality is incredibly important for our communities, so every time I hear a bill in the legislature that threatens to undo the progress we've made toward clean water, I get a little concerned.
But that's exactly what happened last week when Rep. Dan Fabian introduced legislation (HF 1291) to completely eliminate the Environmental Quality Board, one of the few bodies that brings experts and agency heads out of their silos and forces them to collaborate.
Many legislators are working with Gov. Dayton to make sure we move forward with water quality, and this would take us backward.
The EQB hasn't always been around, and we are still suffering from the long-term environmental impacts from the time when it didn't exist. So I'm very much opposed to this extreme legislation, and I hope it does not get very far.
If you're interested in this topic, my colleague Jean Wagenius has a more comprehensive explanation of the bill on her blog.
That is what's on my mind this week. I hope you'll reach out to me with any questions or concerns in the future.
Rep. Peter Fischer