It’s been a very busy week in St. Paul. On Monday, the House took up the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. My biggest concern about this legislation is the cuts to nursing homes that disproportionally will hurt rural Minnesota. The bill put forward by House Democrats makes a $26 million baseline cut to long-term care facilities. I spoke with our local hospitals and local nursing homes in our community. These cuts will absolutely devastate our rural care centers. Our nursing homes are already under-staffed. Cutting funding toward our most vulnerable while proposing to raise $2.6 billion in taxes just doesn’t make sense. Given that the total funding for the bill is $11.212 billion, I think we could have done better for our seniors and that’s why I voted no on passage of this bill.
The one silver lining about the bill was that three pro-life amendments were attached to the legislation. One amendment requires that abortion facilities be licensed in the same manner as outpatient surgical centers. Another amendment specifies that abortion would not be included in the essential health benefit package for policies sold in the new health exchange. The third amendment updates an existing law state that insurance companies can’t be required to provide abortion coverage. All three of these pro-life amendments passed with bipartisan support. I was proud to vote for each of them. I hope those provisions remain intact when the HHS bill comes back to the House from conference committee.
The main event on the House floor this week was the tax bill. The DFL tax plan seeks to impose a $2.6 billion tax increase on hard-working Minnesotans with new income taxes, tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes, and sports memorabilia taxes. In addition, the bill eliminates the charitable deduction – essentially discouraging people from donating to charities. While proponents of the bill argue that the income tax will only affect the rich, it actually will affect many middle class Minnesotans. Taxes will go up for 60% of single filers making between $21,650 and $73,500 and go up for 83% of joint filers making between $31,650 and $130,000. Four DFL legislators and all 61 Republican legislators – including myself – voted no on final passage of the tax bill. Unfortunately, it still passed the House.
On Thursday, DFL House Majority Leader Erin Murphy stated that a vote on legalizing gay marriage could come up on the House floor in the next couple weeks. I continue to oppose redefining marriage and will keep you updated if I hear about a vote being scheduled on legalizing gay marriage.
As always, I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact me by phone, call (651) 296-9918. Mail can be sent to Rep. Steve Green, 231 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.
Have a great weekend!