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News from Representative Gruenhagen 01-09-2015

Friday, January 9, 2015
Dear Friends,

I hope you had a happy New Year, and that your January is off to a great start.

This week I had the honor of taking the oath of office and officially began my third term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I wanted to send along an overview of my committee assignments and a preview as we begin the 2015 legislative session.

Priorities

House Republicans announced House Files (HF) 1-5 on Thursday, detailing the first five bills of the 2015 session. These bills are focused on five key areas:

Job growth: HF 1 is a jobs bill that will help businesses expand and attract the skilled workers they need in parts of the state that need better-paying jobs.

Education: HF 2 will help schools attract and retain the best teachers to ensure quality education for every one of our students.

Caring for our seniors and the disabled: HF 3 will help attract talented workers to work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and give Minnesotans options in planning for long-term care needs of them or their family.

Improving roads and bridges: HF 4 would invest $750 million in road and bridge improvements without raising taxes.

Health care: HF 5 would reign in MNsure and give Minnesotans more flexibility in their health care the Affordable Care Act.

These bills are a starting point, and are likely to change as they go through the legislative process, but I will be sure to keep you up-to-date on their status. Please feel free to contact me with your input as well: you can send an email to rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-4229.

Budget

Every two years the legislature must pass a budget. This year, Minnesota is projected to spend more than $40 billion dollars for the first time in state history. The budget passed during my first term was $34 billion. This rapid increase in spending is unsustainable, and very concerning for Minnesota moving forward. Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, which will help a great deal as we're crafting the 2016-2017 budget. I plan to do what I can to reduce wasteful spending and ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely as we move through the budget process.

Committees

As you may have read in previous updates, I will serve on four committees this session:

Agriculture Finance: The agriculture finance committee deals with all state spending on agriculture programs, and crafts the Agriculture part of the budget.

Civil Law and Data Practices: This committee handles any legislation pertaining to civil law (non-criminal law), and data practices issues involving public access to government records.

Health and Human Services Finance: The Health and Human Services Finance Committee crafts the Health and Human Services budget, the second largest part of the state budget. Any state spending on public health programs will go through the Health and Human Services Finance Committee. I plan to continue my efforts to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in our public programs, and ensure HHS dollars are used wisely and on effective programs.

Higher Education Policy and Finance: The Higher Education Policy and Finance committee crafts the state's Higher Education budget that includes funding for the state's public higher education institutions: the University of Minnesota and MNSCU. Any policy bills pertaining to those schools would also come through this committee.

I hope you have a great weekend, and stay warm out there,

Glenn Gruenhagen
State Representative, District 18B
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