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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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RELEASE: House Passes Health and Human Services, Transportation Legislation

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SAINT PAUL, MN – On Tuesday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation to reduce health care costs, combat the opioid epidemic, protect vulnerable adults, prevent fraud and abuse of public programs, and invest $385 million for road and bridge needs across the state.

The legislation was approved on a bipartisan vote of 82-43.

“The House bill prioritizes the needs of Minnesotans and addresses some of the gaps we see between the state and our residents,” said Health and Human Services Finance chair Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood. “Our efforts were focused on the opioid crisis, protecting our aging and vulnerable adults, and reducing fraud and waste in state programs. This legislation accomplishes these goals and more, and I’m thankful to see it pass with bipartisan support.”

Highlights of the health and human services portion of the bill include:

  • Cutting the MNsure tax on health plans, saving Minnesotans $30 million

  • Combatting the opioid epidemic by limiting prescription lengths, creating two pilot projects, and requiring physicians to undergo training on opioid prescribing best practices

  • Protecting vulnerable and aging adults by strengthening the tools the state can use against perpetrators of elder abuse, and holding state agencies accountable for their shortcoming on investigating and triaging maltreatment

  • Reforms to reduce potential fraud and helps the state recoup over $30 million lost through improper billing in 2015

  • Reinstating the impending 7% cut to Disability Waiver Rate System (DWRS) rates

  • Investing in mental health care by funding Crisis Connection hotline, extending funding for children’s mental health residential services, and allowing for school-linked mental health via telemedicine

The supplemental transportation finance bill utilizes surplus funds leveraged with trunk highway bonds to spend $385 million on transportation needs this year.

“Last year we approved the largest transportation funding plan in a decade, but the need is still there,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson R-Hanska, chairman of the Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee. “We are committed to moving forward on improving Minnesota’s road and bridge infrastructure, and this proposal will continue our significant progress.”

Highlights of the transportation portion of the bill include:

  • $250 million in Trunk Highway bonds

  • $145 million in Trunk Highway bonds and $10 million in cash for Corridors of Commerce program projects

  • $25 million for county roads, $6.6 million for city roads, $2 million for township roads

  • Additional $7 million for Small Cities Assistance Program for cities under 5,000

  • $75 million for trunk highway rail grade separation projects

  • $9 million to deputy registrars for MNLARS reimbursement aid

  • Establishes the Freight Rail Economic Development Program

  • Defines the operating costs definition for LRT spending

Now passed by the House, HF3138 heads to the Senate.