The pace is picking up at the Capitol as we approach the first deadline for bills to get through committees. Details of the majority’s budget targets are expected to be released soon. I serve as the minority lead on the Higher Education Committee, but we have yet to hear a finance bill in that committee.
One notable thing that happened on the budget front this week is Gov. Mark Dayton announced to a chamber of commerce group that he is pulling his proposed business-to-business tax off the table. He had been criticized by many for this proposal and received significant input from Minnesotans.
This is a step in the right direction, but there is a whole host of other taxes I would like the governor and legislative members to abandon. Dayton still is pushing for expanding sales taxes to services like Internet transactions, oil changes, banking services (including ATM transactions, mortgage originations, overdrafts and travelers’ checks) and more.
In other news, the House Early Childhood committee passed a childcare unionization bill on a party-line vote this week. Members of the minority party were joined by many small businesses and daycare providers in expressing their opposition.
This bill would result in government overreach into Minnesotans’ homes and businesses. Child care providers are small-business owners and should have the right to negotiate rates with parents without interference from outside parties. Government unions should not be injecting themselves into private contracts.
Another top concern is how even those providers who opt out of joining the union would be forced to pay a fair share union due rate of 85 percent. Profit margins are already small for these providers. Requiring the payment of union dues will hurt their bottom line and possibly force them to shut down.
The House also passed a bill this week which would form a state-run health care insurance exchange. The idea is to craft a plan to fit Minnesota’s needs as opposed to adopting the federal government’s standard model. An amendment preventing abortions to be covered under the plan was, thankfully, adopted.
I provided more detail in a March 1 email, but our top concerns are the plan fails to deliver in three areas: affordability, choice and privacy. Even the governor is calling this bill a big gamble.
Many visitors from District 8A continue to visit me at the Capitol to discuss the issues. I really appreciate the time they take to provide me with input. It helps me continue doing my best to represent the people of our area.