MN Health Insurance Exchange
As part of the Affordable Care Act, Minnesota’s DFL leaders have selected to set up a powerful and expensive state health insurance exchange in Minnesota. While many of our neighboring states have elected to participate in the federal health exchange instead, the legislature has begun the process of hearing legislation that would construct this “marketplace” for health coverage. I am opposed to this for several reasons. First, we had been told by the DFL that the process for designing the exchange would be open and cooperative, yet, all of our ideas and proposals have been shut out completely during the hearing process.
Second, the exchange is dangerous to middle-class Minnesotans and small businesses. It would be operated by a seven-member ‘super agency’ that seeks to control the entire health insurance market. This group would be appointed and accountable to no one, have access to spend taxpayer dollars without discretion, picks winners and losers as to who can sell insurance, and will inflate insurance costs by collecting up to 3.5% of plan premiums just to fund its operations. Given recent data privacy violations on a state level, I also have concerns about establishing another agency that will hold on to enormous amounts of private health information.
The DFL’s Health Exchange is not a basic exchange—it goes far beyond Obamacare mandates and threatens the future of Minnesota’s free marketplace of health care choice.
Dairy Day at the Capitol
Dairy Day was Wednesday in St. Paul, providing us an opportunity to highlight how important this industry - and agriculture in general - is to Minnesota's economy. Dairy production was up 4 percent last year, even though we experienced drought conditions. There are 455,000 cows in Minnesota on 3,900 licensed dairy farms. Each provides about 25,000 of economic activity to the state and Minnesota exported $218 million in dairy products last year, 13 percent of the national total.
Meeting with Farmers
It was a pleasure to meet with representatives from the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) this week to discuss their legislative priorities for 2013.
Committees Analyze Gov. Dayton’s Budget
This week, the Minnesota House Taxes and Ways and Means committees began scrutinizing Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal and determining what it means for Minnesotans. The plan, which increases state spending by $2.5 billion and increase taxes on Minnesotans by nearly $3.7 billion, would negatively impact the working poor and the middle class through a radical sales tax expansion on goods and services.
Through lengthy question and answer periods, lawmakers learned that Governor Dayton’s “balanced” budget approach didn’t quite live up to its name. While crafting what would be a $38 billion budget, it was discovered that the governor only reduced spending by $225 million. In other words, for every $16 in spending increases, his budget contains $1 in spending reductions. His new business-to-business sales tax proposal was also debated. This regressive idea would not only decrease profit margins for businesses, but would also lead to reduced wages and reduced employment opportunities for hard working Minnesotans as business owners tried to make up for the added expense.
Protecting 2nd Amendment Rights
Several legislative proposals regarding firearms will be heard next week. One example is HF 241 which would redefine our gun laws to ban certain firearms and restrict who can own guns. If you are interested in attending the Public Safety Committee hearing on Tues. Feb 5th, 2nd amendment supporters are meeting in 400S of the State Office Building from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and then will go down to Room 10 for the committee hearing. You will have the opportunity to sign up to testify on legislation at this time.
Information regarding parking around the MN State Capitol is available on the following link:
Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or concerns you may have. I can be reached at 651-296-5374 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Chris Swedzinski