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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 3, 2019

Friday, May 03, 2019

Dear neighbors,

On Tuesday, my House colleagues and I approved our final budget legislation! In my most recent update, I talked about the first budget to pass in the House – an E-12 Education plan to invest in every Minnesota student in every public school. Here’s an update on some of the legislation that we’ve passed since then:

Health & Human Services

The high cost of health care is a concern for many people in our community. Our health and human services budget would lower costs and help more people access the care that they need to stay healthy. Here’s a few of the things that this legislation does:

  • Reduce the cost of prescription drugs and life-saving medication like insulin
  • Strengthen protections for elders in assisted living facilities and nursing homes
  • Address the rise in youth tobacco use
  • Expand coverage options by allowing Minnesotans to buy into a plan that’s similar to MinnesotaCare
  • Lower premiums for those who purchase their insurance through a private plan in the individual market

A fact sheet with more details is available here. If you’d like to learn more, you can also listen to the latest episode of the Minnesota Values Podcast here.

Taxes

Our tax plan is all about leveling the playing field. It puts working families, small businesses, and senior citizens first and makes big corporations play by the same rules as small employers. Closing loopholes that allow corporations to keep their profits in places like the Cayman Islands would generate $1.2 billion in revenue. Three-fourths of the new revenue would go directly to Minnesota schools, and the other one-fourth towards a two-year tuition freeze.

The bill also cuts taxes for more than two-thirds of Minnesotans and provides real reform by simplifying the filing process for everyone. A fact sheet with a breakdown of the numbers is available here.         

Agriculture & Housing

As a member of the Housing Division, I’ve spent months working on a budget that will help people find a safe place to live and pay the mortgage or rent each month. This joint budget would support students experiencing housing instability or homelessness, people with mental illnesses, and workers. My bill to establish a Lead Safe Homes program to increase screenings for lead-based paint was included in the budget as well.

Transportation

On their most recent infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota’s roads a D+ grade. Bridges were awarded a C, and transit received a C-. It’s clear that we need to fix our roads, bridges, and transit so Minnesotans can travel safely to work, school, the grocery store, or the doctor’s office. Those improvements require honest investment. That’s why our transportation budget includes a modest, nickel per gallon gas tax that would be phased in over four years.

A fact sheet with more information is available here.

Higher Education

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 775,000 Minnesotans with student debt that totals $27.1 billion. The high cost of a college education is a burden for too many. That’s why the cornerstone of our higher education budget is a tuition freeze for all two- and four-year public colleges and universities. Tens of thousands of Minnesota students would not pay one penny more in tuition for the next two years.

A fact sheet for this budget is available here.

Environment & Natural Resources

As Minnesotans, we know that our state is a special place to live and want to preserve its natural beauty and abundant resources for many years to come. I’m pleased that our environment and natural resources budget addresses long-term problems like aquatic invasive species and protects our clean air and water. It also includes legislation that would protect communities from industrial toxins like TCE and ban toxic flame retardant chemicals that increase health risks for children and firefighters.

The budget also provides better support for communities like ours that are facing increased health risks due to pollution. It stipulates that 40 percent of settlements of $250,000 or more must directly benefit the community that was harmed and reinstates the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board, giving Minnesotans to provide more input to the MPCA.

My bills to reduce over-salting and help communities restore their soil and water were included in the budget. I also successfully offered an amendment that would protect our vulnerable wolf population by prohibiting an open hunting season on the animals. The Pioneer Press published an article about this progress. You can check it out here.

Looking Ahead

Now that the House and Senate have passed all of their budget legislation, members of both bodies will meet in conference committees to work out their differences. I’m honored to be part of a great crew that will serve on the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee and looking forward to our first meeting on Monday.

Please continue to share your questions and feedback.

Sincerely,

Peter Fischer
State Representative

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