Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The legislature has been hard at work in April, with all three committee deadlines this month to ensure bills that could be signed into law are being heard and amended in all of the necessary committees before being debated on the House Floor.
I serve on several committees including Public Safety and Crime Prevention, Civil Law and Data Practices, Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development, and Mining and Outdoor Recreation, where we have heard a number of bills already in this short session.
With so many notable events and moving parts, I wanted to share with you some of the important things happening at the Capitol.
Last week, the House and Senate passed legislation partially repealing a 2009 law that prevented the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) from preparing for the implementation of federal REAL ID requirements. It was signed into law by Governor Dayton.
Now, DPS is required to create a report for the legislature by mid-April that will detail the cost and necessary legislative changes needed to implement REAL ID. The legislature will then use that information to pass a bill that will begin to convert Minnesota drivers' licenses to a REAL ID compliant format. My goal is to save Minnesotans the cost and hassle of having to renew their license early, so I am hopeful that we can begin issuing new drivers' licenses by October of 2016. That would put us within the normal four-year license renewal cycle so that every Minnesotan could have REAL ID-compliant identification by 2020.
The bill passed last week also directs the Commissioner of Public Safety to request an immediate extension from the federal government so Minnesotans can use their license as a valid form of identification to enter military bases, as well as continue to use it as an ID to board a domestic flight through 2020.
I am pleased this issue is being addressed this session, and want folks in my community to rest assured knowing that their Minnesota-issued driver's license will continue to be a valid form of ID to fly. I will keep you updated on this issue as it progresses.
Over the past couple weeks, House Republicans have been working on legislation related to MNsure, hoping to rein in this bloated bureaucracy and protect Minnesotans. For instance, last week in the Taxes Committee, they heard legislation that will reduce the MNsure premium tax collected on health care policies sold through the exchange from 3.5 percent to 1.75 percent.
Furthermore, the legislation would force MNsure to rein in the cost of its operations and fix many of its problems by attaching required operational benchmarks to the collection of that tax. If those benchmarks go unmet, the tax is reduced to 1.5 percent in 2018, as well as any future year where they fall short of those targets.
I know many Minnesotans are concerned about the rising cost of health care and this legislation would help families and small businesses save at least $15 million over the next two years on their insurance premiums.
Additionally, with MNsure continuing to struggle in many basic areas like mailing out 1095-A tax forms on time or being able to update a person's health insurance when they get married or have a child, the House State Government Finance Committee launched a website to gather feedback and personal experiences from people who have been negatively impacted by MNsure.
By sharing your real-life experiences, it helps bring to light the continued problems surrounding our health care exchange and holds MNsure accountable.
If you have a story you'd like to share, I encourage you to leave your comments on the new website here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cmte/comment
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government. I am here to serve you!
Have a wonderful weekend.