The first full week of the legislative session is in the books. It’s good to get back in the swing of things as committees have started meeting on a regular basis as we begin the process of putting together a new two-year state budget.
On Tuesday, I joined a number of my House Republican colleagues at a press conference urging Governor Walz and the House DFL not to raise health care costs on Minnesotans by restoring the sick tax. The sick tax is levied on most patient services in Minnesota, including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more.
You don’t need me to tell you that the costs of health care are already high. That’s why I’m surprised that Governor Walz and Democrats want to reinstate this tax—a tax that costs sick Minnesotans around $600 million a year.
Simply put, proposing a $600 million tax increase on health care services when the state has a $1.5 billion surplus is irresponsible and unfair to Minnesota families. We should be spending our time and resources in St. Paul looking for ways to lower the costs of health care, not raise them as Governor Walz and House Democrats’ plan would do.
As I mentioned in the intro, most committees began their work this week and things have gone smoothly so far. However, I am concerned about the committee structure that has been approved by the new House DFL majority. In one of their first actions as the majority, they instituted new rules that will make the legislative process less transparent for the vast majority of Minnesotans.
Without getting too much in the weeds, the short of it is that the new structure sets the table for the majority to move bills through the committee process with little to no warning. This may give citizens and the public less than 24 hours notice when a bill hearing is to take place and make it more difficult for folks to track legislation or see how their representative voted on a particular bill in committee.
In addition to that, one of the House’s most high-profile committees, the Public Safety Committee, will be meeting this session in the basement hearing room of the State Office Building. The basement hearing room does not have cameras, meaning that the only way for the public to know what’s going on in committee will be through audio recording.
This committee is where a number of high profile pieces of legislation related to guns, crime, and felon voting will take place. Unfortunately, it appears that the public will not be able to watch the proceedings—instead relying on audio recordings.
That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more for you as the session progresses as it’s sure to be a busy year. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good weekend,