By Rep. Bud Nornes
It is a relatively quiet time around the Capitol in St. Paul, but a couple of issues continue to make headlines as we prepare to start the 2014 session Feb. 25.
First, we recently learned a judge ruled to uphold a petition that will at least temporarily block a vote on whether childcare providers in our state will unionize. The judge decided it was appropriate to wait and see how the U.S. Supreme Court acts on a similar case in Illinois.
This is the second time a Minnesota judge has hit the brakes on conducting this vote. The first time came after it was ruled Gov. Mark Dayton had exceeded his authority by unilaterally calling for a vote.
It remains a very controversial issue, with polls indicating a strong majority of childcare providers opposing unionization. Parents also are expressing strong concern over a potential spike in childcare costs if providers were to unionize. In addition, many providers say unionization could cause them to cease accepting children of low-income parents, leaving a whole other set of problems.
Another topic in the news is the host of troubles with the state's new insurance program leading up to the Oct. 1 launch date. MNsure recently has experienced a startling data breach, concerns over consumer costs and more. It remains in question how ready MNsure is to start enrolling citizens.
The data breach occurred when a MNsure employee mistakenly sent public an email containing personal information of nearly 2,500 Minnesotans. Social security numbers were included in that email, adding to concerns many are expressing over consumer privacy with this program.
Also, consumer rates recently were released and MNsure supporters touted they are the “lowest health insurance rates in the country.” This is misleading because it is only true if you compare Minnesota's rates with Obamacare rates in other states. Private-market prices are lower than these government programs and projections indicate plans sold through MnSure will rise by an average of 29 percent or more by 2016.
I will have more on these issues later. Meantime, I plan on visiting local schools to meet with officials, teachers and/or students this fall to have discussions regarding education. Please call my legislative office at (651) 296-4946 if you are interested in making arrangements.