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

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Legislative Update from Rep. Chris Swedzinski

Friday, March 8, 2013

Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange

A major change to Minnesota’s health insurance industry was passed by the Minnesota Legislature this week that will impact every Minnesotan. I co-authored a column on the Exchange with State Senator Dahms this week, which you can read online here.

The Democrats’ health exchange is a monument to government growth, inefficiency and waste. You know a plan is flawed when even Gov. Mark Dayton calls it “a big gamble,” as he did during a recent radio interview. It would cost us hundreds of millions of dollars to operate and include a 3.5-percent tax, while lacking the three things Minnesotans care about most: affordability, choice in care and data privacy. Our state is a national leader in health care and in health insurance. We have too much to lose in rushing to passage this new government program that seems destined to fail.

Unionizing Child Care Providers

A bill is once again making its way through the House, HF 950, supported by AFSCME Council 5, which provides a process for unionizing family child care providers who serve families receiving subsidized child care assistance. This legislation is the latest in a seven-year push by AFSCME and their allies to unionize childcare providers. The most recent attempt occurred when Gov. Dayton attempted to force a union vote in 2011 with an executive order. In April 2012, Ramsey County Judge Dale Lindman ruled that the governor’s directive was an “unconstitutional usurpation of the legislature’s constitutional right to make or amend our laws.”

Recently, a key founder and vice-president of the AFSCME local unit attempting to unionize licensed child care providers has resigned, demanded her card check back and submitted testimony for a legislative hearing criticizing union organizers of using “unethical tactics” to obtain votes. You can read more about this very revealing back story here.

I will not support a move to force union membership and dues on providers unwillingly. If unionized, child care providers serving our low income families and children would be required to pay union dues or fair share fees, thus potentially driving up costs or reducing services. When unionized, the state of Minnesota becomes the “employer of record,” thus putting the state in the middle of a relationship that is primarily between the parent and their provider of choice.

Legislation for Our District

This week I moved forward with several bills authorizing funding for projects in Marshall, including the Minnesota Emergency Response and Industrial Training (MERIT) Center and the Southwest Minnesota Regional Amateur Sports Center.

Transportation Tax Increases in the Works

A transportation bill which would put $3 billion more funding toward roads and transit projects over the next four years recently was heard in a House committee. Tax increases and new fees would pay for the additional spending. Here are some notable components:

  • 9.5 cents per gallon gasoline tax increase
  • $10 increase of tab fees, plus .125 percent of the base value of the vehicle
  • Expansion of the annual metropolitan wheelage tax to statewide; counties that opt into the wheelage tax may set the amount, rather than the tax being set by statute at $5
  • General sales tax extended to include auto repair and auto repair warranty purchases.
  • Increase in the current ¼ of 1 percent sales tax for transit in metro area to ¾ of 1 percent.

This bill would increase our $4.6 billion biennial transportation spending by an astounding 33 percent. It also would raise Minnesota’s gas tax to among the nation’s highest at a time Minnesota families and businesses can least afford the added costs.

Alternative Gun Legislation

I will be supporting an alternative piece of legislation this session that would prohibit felons from possessing ammunition, creates mandatory minimums for violent felons that are convicted of possessing firearms on a second or subsequent offense, and provides felony penalties for individuals that engage in repeated false reports of lost or stolen firearms. This important legislation is bipartisan and also supported by the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and gun-rights advocates.

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


Rep. Chris Swedzinski