I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful fall weather as cooler temperatures have descended upon us. Even though the House is not currently in session, activities have not slowed down at all as I’ve been busy representing your voice at several legislative meetings as well as attending events all around our community. Moreover, several legislative items from Saint Paul have recently been making headlines.
MNsure Costs Rising
The Minnesota Department of Commerce and MNsure recently announced 2016 insurance prices will increase for individuals, families, and small businesses that purchase insurance coverage in the individual and small group markets.
Below is a breakdown of the premium increases by provider:
This year's increase follows double- and triple-digit increases for parts of the state in the last two years. The health insurance premium increase is due in part to Obamacare mandates and the ever-rising price tag for MNsure. The facts clearly demonstrate Obamacare and MNsure have failed hard working Minnesotans.
Ribbon Cutting Event
I was joined by Saint Michael Mayor Jerry Zachman, Albertville Mayor Jillian Hendrickson, Sheriff Joe Hagerty, and others at the I-94 West Corridor Coalition ribbon cutting event for the new FedEx Distribution Center in Rogers.
The FedEx expansion is a clear example of increased economic development that results from increased roads and bridges transportation expansion. The Corridors of Commerce funding that added a third lane in each direction of I-94 over this past summer between Rogers and Saint Michael will save thousands of hours in travel time. Adding three lanes in each direction of I-94 must continue and to this end Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer and I are the chief authors of bills in the House/Senate to continue adding lanes in each direction from Saint Michael to Albertville.
The Minnesota Management and Budget office released state general fund revenues for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2016 showing general fund revenues were $136.5 million above earlier projections. The surplus continues to grow and the amount left unspent may reach $2 billion by the time the Legislature returns next March. Republicans are pushing to spend the surplus on roads and bridges transportation and tax cuts while Governor Mark Dayton and the Democrats are demanding gas tax increases and spending the surplus on universal preschool and the Metropolitan Council’s light rail transit projects.
Court strikes down sprinkler mandate
Citizens and consumer freedom prevailed when the Minnesota Court of Appeals struck down this week the requirement fire sprinkler systems be installed in new homes of 4,500 square feet or larger. The court ruling noted the building code mandate on new homes over 4,500 feet is "arbitrary" and was not the product of "scientific principles, approved tests, and professional judgment."
It was not the Legislature that created the mandate but rather it was the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry which mandated the rule beginning this past January. I was co-author of the bill to repeal the mandate last session and it easily passed a floor vote, but the bill eventually was cut from an omnibus bill in the conference committee process.
Sprinklers will remain an option for people to consider as they evaluate their personal needs in building a home. Minnesotans can decide for themselves if sprinklers are a necessary expense, or if other means such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are sufficient.
I joined colleague representatives and members of the Job Growth and Energy Committee to tour the Sherco Coal Power Plant in Becker. The Sherco Coal Power Plant is one of the largest coal power plants in the United States generating 2,500 megawatts. I was very impressed with the technology innovations in use to create massive power generation via clean coal.
After the tour, I joined a panel of legislators which included Majority Leader Joyce Peppin and Sen. Kiffmeyer, among others, for a public forum held in Becker regarding President Obama's goal to shut down coal power plants via EPA Rule 111(D), Obama's executive action without any committee hearings or legislative action. It was very telling when testifiers presented facts supporting coal and in response Democrats on the legislative panel engaged in personal attacks. Other testimony included Governor Dayton's MNPCA Assistant Commissioner who declared Governor Dayton is not required to involve Legislature's approval before implementing Obama's new coal standards which will result in significant harm to hard working Minnesotans by higher energy costs.
I look forward to several upcoming meeting of committees I’m a member of to discuss several important topics:
As always please let me know if you have any issue or concern I may be able to assist you with.
State Rep. District 30
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton