Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The third week of session is underway in St. Paul, and I wanted to give you an update of what’s happening this week.
Tax Committee Hears Bills Authored by Rep. Swedzinski
First, two bills that I authored were heard in the House Taxes Committee earlier today. One bill, House File 2709, provides a sales tax exemption for construction materials donated to the Marshall County Library. Currently, a private group plans to donate construction materials for an expansion to the Marshall Library, and this bill would exempt them from paying a sales tax on donated items. This is an important bill for our community, and I hope it will continue to advance this session.
The other legislation heard in the Taxes Committee today is also a tax exemption bill. House File 2607 was brought to me by constituents and would expand the existing motor vehicle sales tax exemption for road maintenance vehicles including snow plows and dump trucks. It would apply to cities and counties.
I am hopeful that both pieces of legislation will move forward for a final vote in the House and Senate this year and be signed into law by Governor Dayton.
It’s week three of session and the legislature is still not offering any fixes for the plethora of problems MNsure has created, instead choosing to ignore looming deadlines and the headaches it has caused countless Minnesotans.
The IRS deadline for having health insurance is March 31, 2014. Minnesotans who do not have insurance by that date will face IRS penalties.
It is unfortunate that the legislature refuses to deal with these problems as thousands of Minnesotans have tried to use MNsure and run into duplicative applications, freezing websites and hours long wait times to speak with a live person. Many do not know whether or not they are insured and are waiting on MNsure for proof of insurance.
Last week, Republicans offered an amendment to reimburse anyone charged a penalty by the IRS as part of a larger business-to-business tax repeal bill. Voted down, it would have offered relief to citizens left in a tough situation by MNsure’s ineffective bureaucracy.
For those lucky enough to get through MNsure and have insurance, many have faced higher costs, larger deductibles and canceled plans. And sign-ups for insurance are well below projections.
The premium tax revenue on health insurance is MNsure's main funding source in 2015 and beyond. MNsure has lowered revenue projections for this tax every month, and at the end of February estimated to collect just $2.2 million, 52 percent below their lowest expectations in November. This means that this ineffective, bloated healthcare exchange will most likely come back to the state looking for more funding next year.
I will continue to monitor MNsure and am hopeful that many of these problems can be addressed soon by the legislature for the good of our state and its citizens.
Constituents at the Capitol
Many constituent groups are coming to St. Paul to represent their local businesses and interests. It’s wonderful to meet with people all over the district and hear their stories. I hope many more of you will have a chance to make it down here this year, and if not, please don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions, concerns or ideas you may have.
Stu and Matthew Frazeur from Land Improvement Contractors of America in Canby.
I will keep you updated as this session moves forward. It’s an honor to be your voice in St. Paul.