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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jerry Hertaus (R)

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News from Rep. Jerry Hertaus

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Capitol, where around 1,000 House bills have been introduced this session, a critical audit report of MNsure was issued this week, and a bill titled “Colton’s Law” that I chief authored was introduced.

Before we get into those items, I would like to remind citizens of a property tax listening session that will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24 at Wayzata City Hall. I will be hosting this event with other legislators in order to receive feedback from citizens on their thoughts regarding property tax reform as the Legislature considers proposals for action this session. I hope you can attend and share your ideas.

MNSURE REPORT

As for MNsure, the non-partisan Legislative Auditor issued a disappointing report regarding MNsure this week. It bluntly indicated, quote: “the program’s failures outweighed its achievements” over its first year in existence. Public enrollments have far outnumbered the private enrollments, which is big cause for concern because, by MNsure’s own design, private enrollments are necessary for MNsure to generate sufficient revenue in order to be sustainable. Here are some noteworthy points:

  • 72 percent of MNsure enrollees surveyed said they already had insurance.

  • MNsure commercial enrollments have missed Democrat projections by 88 percent (49,000 actual enrollments vs. 413,000 promised in the 2013 Fiscal Note).

  • 58 percent of those surveyed by the OLA spent at least four hours on the enrollment process.

  • Among people surveyed who enrolled in a qualified health plan through MNsure, 75 percent reported having “significant” technical problems with the website.

  • More than $200 million in taxpayer money has been spent on MNsure to date. Statewide, there are 12,880 commercial insurance enrollees who did not already have coverage, costing taxpayers around $13,975 for each commercial enrollee who did not have health insurance prior to MNsure’s first year.

  • New enrollment in public programs has risen significantly and is the primary driver behind the reduction in Minnesota's uninsured population.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s new budget proposal includes even more bailout dollars to keep MNsure going, despite assurances by proponents last session that the program would be self-funding. The report from the OLA makes it clear that if MNsure is ever to become successful, it must and will require more accountability, easier access and affordability. A House bill (H.F. 5) has been introduced to help take corrective measures in these regards.

BILLS IN PROCESS

I mentioned around 1,000 bills have been introduced in the House this session. Here are some categorical approximations as to where most of them fit:

  • 200: Education
  • 132: Highways and transportation
  • 172: Health and Human Services (or health-related)
  • 154: Taxation
  • 298: Appropriations
  • 156: Local government

COLTON’S LAW

Colton’s Law (H.F. 969) is a bill I introduced this week. It requires a seamless transition from imprisonment to intensive supervision (if so ordered), requiring all electronic monitoring equipment to be installed and immediately operational upon an offender’s release from incarceration.

The legislation changes the current installation of equipment requirement from “policy” to law. It is named for Colton Gleason, who in 2012 was assaulted and killed in a random act of violence in St. Cloud by a juvenile offender who roamed free for two days after release from prison before monitoring equipment ordered as part of his sentence was installed and made operational.

A LOOK AHEAD

The first committee deadline to hear bills is March 20, so we will be working to get proposals through the initial stages by then. Mid-March also is the time we expect to start setting official budget numbers for our House FY 2015-2016 biennial budget proposal. The state’s February economic forecast will provide updated revenue information necessary to establish an official House budget outline.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast the House’s budget with what the governor issued. His emphasis has been on increasing education spending. Overall, it includes raising All Funds spending from $70 billion to $77 billion by 2016-17 and raises taxes by $900 million.

Stay tuned as things develop and, again, I hope you can join us for the property tax listening session on Tuesday.

Sincerely,

Jerry Hertaus

State Representative, District 33A

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