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

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Legislative Update (2-20-15)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friends and Neighbors,

It was a busy week at the Capitol as the long awaited non-partisan legislative auditor report on MNSure was released and important bills were heard before committee.

Legislative Auditor Releases MNSure Report

On Tuesday, the non-partisan Legislative Auditor released the report from his investigation into MNSure. One of only thirteen states to have its own Obamacare exchange, Minnesota taxpayers have spent nearly $200 million to build MNSure. The auditor’s report concluded that, “MNSure’s failures outweighed its achievements.”

Here are some of the key findings from the report:


  • MNSure implemented its enrollment website in 2013 with serious technical problems. It did not adequately test the site, and it made insufficient use of state government technology experts
  • MNsure staff withheld important information from the board and other state leaders about technical problems before the website launched in October 2013

  • MNSure misled Minnesotans when it reported that it had met its enrollment goal during the first enrollment period which was the result of a seriously flawed and unrealistically low estimate

  • The enrollment process was often lengthy, and technical problems frustrated consumers and insurers

  • Only 28 percent of enrollees were uninsured prior to enrolling

  • MNsure did not properly prepare its customer service staff or navigators to help people enroll

  • Many enrollees were not notified whether or not they had completed the process for insurance coverage, nor were they notified if they were eligible for public programs or tax subsidies

  • Low private enrollment in MNsure leaves the program financially unstable

These findings are not surprising to the countless Minnesotans who were made to deal with MNSure. My colleagues and I in the House offered numerous amendments last year that would have addressed many of the problems facing MNSure. Unfortunately many of these amendments were voted down.

For better or worse, MNSure is a reality in Minnesota. This session, House Republicans have put forward plans to ensure fair access and affordability in health care, and increased accountability for MNSure. I am hopeful that the governor, and members of both sides of the aisle here in the legislature will work together to find ways to make MNSure work better for everyone.

Drake’s Law Receives Committee Hearing

House File 71, known as Drake’s Law, was heard in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee on Wednesday.

The bill is named in honor of Drake Bigler, the five month old son of Brad and Heather Bigler, who was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident in 2012. Drake’s father, Brad, is the head basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Both Brad and Heather Bigler joined me at Wednesday’s hearing to testify in support of the bill.

The bill will help strengthen our state’s drunk driving conviction laws by increasing the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying offense. Qualifying prior DWI offenses include an aggravating factor such as injury to a person or damage to property. The maximum sentence would be increased from 10 to 15 years.

I would like to thank Brad and Heather Bigler for their courage in coming down to St. Paul today to testify in favor of this bill. This bill is important not only because it honors the life of Drake Bigler, but it also aims to make sure that a similar tragic accident won’t occur again.

House File 71 was laid over for possible inclusion in the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance omnibus bill.

Other Bills before Committee

On Tuesday, House File 531, received its second committee hearing. I was joined by Glenn Olson from the Marshall Public Works Department and Brad Roos from the Marshall Municipal Utilities who traveled to St. Paul to testify in support of this bill, which was heard in front of the Taxes Committee.

HF 531, which has bipartisan support and is endorsed by the League of Minnesota Cities, Inter-County Association, and the School Boards Association is aimed at streamlining the process through which contractors can file for exemptions and tax refunds on materials purchased for work on certain qualifying projects such as publicly owned buildings.

Another bill I am authoring, House File 441, received its first hearing before the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee. This bill would require all taxes collected from rental cars to be deposited into the state’s Corridors of Commerce program. The Corridors of Commerce program is designed to improve existing roads around the state that are especially important to the economic vitality of our state.

Staying in Touch

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I welcome the opportunity to speak with about your ideas on how we can make state government work better. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5374 or via email at


Have a great weekend,