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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cal Bahr (R)

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Start of Session Update from Rep. Cal Bahr

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Greetings from St Paul,

On January 3, 2017, the oath of office was administered to me and my fellow representatives by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. I am honored to be your representative and will work hard for you.

The Speaker of the House, Chief Clerk, Sergeant at Arms and their respective staff members were also elected during the opening ceremony. The two non-partisan positions of Chief Clerk's Office and Sergeant at Arms Office were filled by Patrick Murphy and Bob Meyerson respectively. Both Chief Clerk Murphy and Sergeant at Arms Meyerson are well-respected by legislators of all affiliations, and were elected unanimously due to their faithful service, which began during the 2015 legislative session.

MNsure Reforms

The House committees have begun to meet regularly, and on Thursday, January 12th the first bills were introduced on the House floor. House File 1 (HF1) addresses the problems we are facing with MNsure. The Republican proposal offers premium relief to low income Minnesotans based on need, while Governor Dayton’s plan would give the same amount of relief to millionaires. The Governor’s proposal included absolutely no reforms to this broken system. Spending taxpayer dollars without any reforms to the system is ludicrous. How are premiums going to be any more affordable next year without making some changes?

Some of HF1 reforms increase transparency by making plan rate changes public within 10 days of filing, eliminate surprise billing, and allow for-profit insurance providers to sell plans in Minnesota to increase competition. These are but a few of the basic steps that must be taken for affordable health insurance coverage to be obtainable by all.

What we are witnessing in 2017, is the collapse of the market place caused by the compounding consequences of government intervention. As of the writing of this letter, Democrats in the House have refused to declare urgency on MNsure, and therefore, this bill will be delayed for several weeks. I am committed to reforming the health insurance market, and getting ineffective government out of the market place.

Tax Conformity

The second bill that was introduced on Thursday was House File 2 (HF2) concerning federal tax conformity. Essentially, this bill aligns Minnesota’s tax code with the federal tax code, to simplify and streamline the tax forms when filing state and federal income taxes. For the 2016 tax year, Minnesotan’s will receive $21.7 million in tax relief due to this bill.

As I have said before, “you will always make better decisions affecting your life than any government.” Therefore, your frequent input is extremely important. I will keep you informed about what is happening here at the Capitol. Please feel free to phone or email me with any questions or concerns.