The 2017 legislative session has officially begun. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you again at the Capitol in St. Paul!
The legislature has many important issues to tackle this session and we have already hit the ground running. Yesterday, the House passed House File 2, which conforms Minnesota tax code to the federal tax code, on a very bipartisan vote of 130-0. The financial result of this bill is $21.7 million in tax relief for 220,000 Minnesota tax filers. It was urgent to get this bill passed in the beginning of session to avoid any complications for Minnesotans filing their 2016 taxes this year. The Senate is expected to pass this bill as well so it can reach the Governor's desk for a signature before the Department of Revenue's deadline of January 11th.
In addition to passing federal tax conformity on the first day of session, House Republicans moved to declare an urgency and suspend the rules of the House to vote on House File 1, The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill.
House File 1 consists of three key aspects: providing $300 million of premium relief for those Minnesotans who qualify on the individual market; ensuring continued access to doctors; and making individual market reforms, such as ending surprise billing, conforming with federal law to allow small businesses to offer a direct contribution toward health insurance premiums, and allowing for-profit health maintenance organizations (HMO) to enter the individual market.
Unfortunately, due to needing 90 votes, instead of a simple majority, to suspend the rules and declare an urgency, House Democrats were able to block this effort. It was our understanding that we had an agreement with House Democrat leadership and that we were going to be able to pass this bill out of the House to send to conference committee with the Senate. I am very upset that they went back on their word and blocked millions of dollars in premium relief for folks struggling to pay health insurance costs, as well as some good reforms for the insurance market.
However, I look forward to supporting future long-term reforms that will begin to permanently fix the insurance market, instead of just providing emergency relief. I am also optimistic that more structural reforms will come from the new Congress in Washington D.C. and the President-Elect.
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me at either 651-296-3201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
I truly represent the best!