Greetings from the Minnesota House of Representatives, where we have a number of subjects to touch on in this newsletter:
Gov’s tax increases not needed
I recently submitted a column to newspapers throughout our district to outline the misguided nature of the governor’s proposal to raise taxes on Minnesotans by $1.7 billion – especially as state economic reports show our bottom line is improving, with the modest shortfall shrinking. Here is a link to the full column, as published by the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.
The majority’s MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal (HF11), which would devastate rural hospitals and would be more expensive than existing plans on the individual market, received a hearing in the Commerce Committee.
I offered an amendment to the bill that would help the program pay for itself, a good-faith effort to remove some concerns from the current bill. The proposal specifically requires that those newly eligible for the MinnesotaCare Buy-In would have to be charged a premium sufficient to cover the costs of claims and administration of the program.
This provides two primary improvements on the bill: (1) it protects taxpayers from subsidizing premiums for the buy-in population and (2) it protects the most vulnerable Minnesotans already on Medical Assistance and MNCare from potentially having their funding shifted to new public option enrollees.
My amendment puts the bill in closer shape to what the DFL has sold it as – that the MNCare buy-in would be funded by premiums, not the taxpayers. Unfortunately, my amendment was defeated on a party-line vote, but I will continue using my position on the Commerce Committee to advocate for policies that will lead to more affordable healthcare coverage.
Pension commission appointment
I am pleased to announce that I have accepted an appointment from the House Speaker to serve as one of 14 legislators recently named to the Minnesota Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement, which oversees more than $80 billion in state pension assets.
My business background and experience working as an investor of pension funds makes this appointment an excellent match for me as we take on the important challenge of ensuring our state pensions are solvent so workers receive the retirement funds they have worked hard for, while also protecting taxpayers from suffering an excessive burden.
The primary purpose of the LCPR is to consider and decide whether to recommend for passage legislation relating to the pension and defined contribution plans that provide retirement benefits for state, county, municipal, school district and other public employees across the state. Because the terms and conditions for benefits under these retirement plans are set forth in statute, legislation is required to make changes to benefits, adjust contribution levels, or enact measures to maintain the financial soundness of the plans.
New COVID-19 vaccine sign-up tool
The Minnesota Department of Health launched a new tool for all Minnesotans to sign up to receive an alert when there is a vaccine available to them — regardless if they are currently eligible to receive one.
The "Vaccine Connector" is a tool for all Minnesotans who have not yet been vaccinated – the Vaccine Connector will notify you when it’s your turn for a shot.
You don’t need to sign up if:
The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector will get you information about when, where, and how you can get the vaccine.
It’s important to note that if you are eligible to get vaccinated right now, you do not have to wait for information from the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector before you get your shot. If your health care provider or employer contacts you about making an appointment, or if you have another opportunity to get vaccinated, you can and should do that. Click here for more on this new tool.