Here is an update from Saint Paul.
This week, the House passed bipartisan legislation that, according to Minnesota Management and Budget, is projected to reduce premiums by 17 percent or more.
House File 5 is designed to help turn around our failing individual health care market that is twice as sick and just a third the size as it was before the implementation of Obamacare. Prior to that federal law, Minnesota had a nation-leading safety net to ensure Minnesotans with the greatest medical needs were taken care of by mitigating the impact of high risk individuals on the individual market.
This bill will ensure that Minnesotans with the highest medical needs continue to have access to the coverage they need, while also working to address affordability, stabilize premium rates and reverse the negative impact of Obamacare in our state.
The Senate is also moving forward with similar legislation, and I will keep you updated.
House File 1119
I am carrying House File 1119 this session that increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor for building activities performed by unlicensed residential contractors, remodelers and roofers. This brings statute in line with others operating without proper licensure including real estate agents, appraisers and brokers, increasing consumer protections.
The bill has been heard in several committees this session, and I am pleased it is moving through the legislative process.
Standing Up for Students, Schools and Teachers
Also this week, the House passed a bill that will help empower our schools to keep the best teachers in the classroom. The bill, of which I am a co-author, repeals the default “last in, first out” policy in state law that requires the newest teachers to be the first let go if schools have to make difficult staff reduction decisions.
By removing that requirement, local schools and educators are able to explore alternative options in negotiations that better serve teachers, students and local schools. The bill does not discourage seniority to be included as a factor, but opens up negotiations to include teacher effectiveness, evaluations and other criteria.
In response to investigative reports by the Star Tribune, as well as the nonpartisan Legislative Auditor report looking into unethical actions by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the House passed reform legislation last week. The bipartisan bill will increase oversight and accountability of the MSFA, reforming their governance structure and limiting the use of free suites at U.S. Bank Stadium.
With more news stories coming out, including that now ex-MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen jumped to the front of the line to purchase luxury season tickets at the Vikings Stadium before long-time season ticket holders and the public, it’s clear that we need to ensure these kinds of ethical violations do not happen again.
Central Minnesota Sex Trafficking Task Force
My bill to appropriate $600,000 to the Stearns County Attorney’s office to coordinate and expand targeted law enforcement, prosecutorial and victim advocacy resources of the Central Minnesota Sex Trafficking Task Force is continuing to move through the legislative process.
This week it was heard and laid over in the House Public Safety Committee. It’s an important bill to help protect women, children and victims of sex trafficking in our area, and I am pleased it’s moving forward this session.
Around the Capitol
With home school student Ruby Hirdler at the Capitol last week
I’ve met with many constituents and groups from Central Minnesota this session who have come to Saint Paul to advocate for a number of important issues. I just wanted to take a moment and say how nice it is to hear from folks throughout my district and thank you for taking the time to meet with me.
Also, if you live in my district and want to set up a meeting or share your thoughts on an issue moving through the legislature, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am here to serve you!
If you have ideas, suggestions or concerns about legislation being debated in the House this session, I welcome you to contact my office. Your input is invaluable and helps me better represent the priorities of our community.
It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!