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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative roundup

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

Before we get to legislative business, I just want to encourage folks to get out and enjoy National Night Out festivities on Tuesday. It’s a good way to bring positivity and a feeling of togetherness to our towns and neighborhoods and we can’t have too much of that.

As for a legislative update, we received good news today when the Minnesota Department of Commerce released preliminary rates for the 2018 individual insurance market. The report indicates that Republican-led reforms could end the four-year trend of double-digit premium increases since the implementation of Obamacare and MNsure in Minnesota.

If approved by the federal government, the Minnesota Premium Security Plan will result in premium decreases for tens of thousands of Minnesotans. In contrast, average rates increased by double digits every year since 2014, including nearly 60 percent for 2017. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, rates would have risen by 25 percent or more without Republican reforms.

It is nice to finally have some good news on the subject of health insurance. MNsure has been flawed since its inception, including soaring premiums that have been causing financial hardships for many families. The accomplishments we achieved this year are providing relief to MNsure enrollees. We still have more work to do and the goal is to drive down rates further and improve access to local hospitals. Final rates for the 2018 individual market are expected to be released in October 2017.

A number of new laws are taking effect this Tuesday. These are policy measures, following the budget bills which became law July 1. Complete details can be found by clicking here for a complete rundown of the changes from nonpartisan House Public Information Services.

On a final note, I recently met with the Legislative Aggregate Resource Task Force, which I co-chair, to examine the status of Minnesota’s aggregate substances mainly used for construction projects.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources indicates that 50 percent of the aggregates such as sand and gravel consumed in Minnesota are used to build publicly funded projects. This includes everything from highways and bridges to airport runways, hospitals, trails, boat landings and beyond. The task force is working to ensure the state practices wise management of aggregates, ensuring the materials are available for future generations.

Our task force toured aggregate facilities around the Twin Cities metro area to learn more about production and day-to-day operations. It was interesting to see how well these operations cooperate with local communities. Strong conservation efforts and attention to managing prairie landscapes allow these operations to fit in, even where residents live in close proximity.

The state has completed around 20 aggregate mapping projects, mainly near regional population centers. In our District 16A, Redwood County aggregate mapping work is in progress and Lyon has filed a county board resolution requesting a survey of deposits be conducted. Knowing where aggregates are located in areas such as ours will help state and local governments better manage the inventory.

I hope you are having a good summer and please stay in touch.