Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Before I get to this week’s legislative news, I wanted to let you know about the townhall meeting I will be holding with Senator Jim Abeler on Saturday, April 13 from 11:00am-12:30pm at the Andover City Hall (1685 Crosstown Blvd NW).
As far as news from the Capitol goes, this week I’ll update you on Democrats’ budget bills, insulin affordability programs, and some info on Capitol tours.
Transportation Budget Proposal
This week, Democrats in the House rolled out some of their “omnibus” budget bills for various areas. One such bill is their transportation package, which includes the harmful and unnecessary 20 cent per gallon gas tax increase. Such a massive increase represents a 70% gas tax hike and would give Minnesota the 4th highest gas tax in the entire country. It would make life more expensive for every Minnesota family and would raise the cost of goods and services around the state.
The governor has repeatedly said that this gas tax hike is necessary for our state to invest in transportation infrastructure. However, it’s important to understand that, of this 20 cent increase, the first seven cents won’t go towards transportation at all. Instead, these first seven cents will go to further grow government and inflate our state’s general fund budget. This means a good chunk of this tax increase wouldn’t actually be going to fix and build roads and bridges.
Last session, Republicans demonstrated that responsible investments in roads and bridges can be made without increasing the gas tax, when we delivered the largest road and bridge investment in state history. This year, Republicans are again putting forth a similar approach: invest in roads and bridges using the sales tax dollars Minnesotans are already paying on auto parts. Put simply, we don't need to increase gas taxes and take more money from Minnesotans when we have a budget surplus.
Health and Human Services Budget Proposals
Democrats also rolled out their health and human services “omnibus” bill, which would raise healthcare costs, cut funding for nursing homes, and cause premium rates to skyrocket next year. This concerning bill includes an extension of the sick tax on healthcare services that will increase the cost of health care by $1 billion over the next two years. It also includes changes to nursing home reimbursement rates, which will result in cuts to about half of Minnesota's nursing facilities. Finally, the bill fails to extend Minnesota's reinsurance program, which will likely lead to enormous increases in insurance rates on the individual market.
In addition, this particular bill is an eye-opening 998 pages long (according to House Research, the largest omnibus bill in at least 20 years). In recent years, Democrats have repeatedly spoken against bills of this size. Many Democrats made this an issue of their campaigns last fall and were even talking about it at the beginning of this session – just a few short months ago. The bill’s extraordinary length reduces its transparency by making it difficult to find and understand the numerous harmful provisions within it that will make healthcare more expensive.
Prescription Drug Resources
The rising costs of prescription drugs and insulin is a topic that has received a lot of media attention recently, highlighted by stories of families, many of whom I met on the campaign trail, struggling to afford their insulin. Ultimately, significant policy change at the federal level is required to fully address this crisis. In the meantime, I want residents in our community to know resources may be available to them. The three largest insulin manufacturers have programs to provide emergency relief to patients who can't afford their insulin. More information can be found at the links below. I hope this information is helpful.
•Lilly Diabetes Solution Center: www.insulinaffordability.com/solutions or 1-833-808-1234
•Novo Nordisk's Patient Assistance Program: https://www.novocare.com/psp/PAP.html
•Sanofi's "The Insulins Valyou Savings Program": https://www.admelog.com/insulins-valyou-savings-program…
Touring the Capitol
Spring is a busy time for schools and students to take field trips to tour the Capitol in St. Paul. The Capitol building is one of our state’s gems and I’d like to make you aware of information regarding tours. Capitol tours are free to the public, take place nearly every day, and are great opportunity to learn more about the Capitol and legislature while seeing the building first hand. For more information about tours, you can call 651-259-3292 or visit http://www.mnhs.org/capitol/visit.
Anoka County Career Fair
On Wednesday, April 10, from 10am-2pm, the Anoka County Career Fair will be taking place at Anoka Technical College (1355 Hwy 10, Anoka, MN 55303). The event will feature over 200 employers and is a great opportunity for students and job-seekers to make connections and learn about career opportunities. More information can be found at: http://www.anokatech.edu/ProWorkTraining/ProgramAreas/Anoka-County-Career-Fair.
Please Contact Me
As always, I want to encourage you to please contact me with any questions or input by phone at 651-296-4231 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,