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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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Roundup from St. Paul

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you to all the people from our district who have stopped by my legislative office to discuss issues this session.

Recent visitors include students from M State-Fergus Falls and people representing the Lake Region Co-op Board, Park Region Telephone and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers.

I also was pleased to welcome a pair of area couples participating in the Emerging Leadership Program through the U of M Extension services. This program is designed to sustain and create a network of community leaders in northwest and west central Minnesota focusing on agriculture and natural resource issues.

Thank you to Allen and Debrah Lundquist of Battle Lake (representing West Otter Tail County) and Derek and Kelly Riepe of Perham (representing East Otter Tail County) for meeting with me. Click here for a local news story on the Lundquists and here for a story on the Riepes.

In other news, March 4 is the date a joint House-Senate meeting will take place to confirm a new class of University of Minnesota Regents. As mentioned in my last email, Tom Anderson from Alexandria is one of the candidates and would represent Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District.

A report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor regarding MNsure drew some attention this week. The review indicates MNsure’s failures outweighed its achievements during the program’s first year of operation.

Maybe the biggest issue MNsure faces is that public enrollments are widely outnumbering the private enrollments which were supposed to support this program. That is not happening, causing serious concern over MNsure’s sustainability. Here are some key points from the OLA’s nonpartisan report:

  • 72 percent of MNsure enrollees surveyed said they already had insurance.

  • MNsure commercial enrollments have missed projections by 88% (49,000 actual enrollments vs. 413,000 promised in the 2013 Fiscal Note).

  • 58 percent of those surveyed spent at least four hours on the enrollment process

  • Among people surveyed who enrolled through MNsure in a qualified health plan, 75 percent reported having “significant” technical problems with the website.

The House is looking for ways we can improve MNsure and introduced legislation to bring more it more accountability, accessibility and affordability.

On a local note, legislation I have introduced to provide flood relief in an area near Perham is scheduled to receive a committee hearing next week. This is separate from a flood-relief package that passed through the Legislature earlier this session to address damage caused last summer. My bill focuses on a long-term issue in our particular area, where citizens have lost their homes, money and, in a number of cases, have had their property reduced to worthless plots due to persistent high water.

I will pass along more as things develop in these areas and, as always, welcome your input.

Sincerely,

Bud

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