Here is an update from the Capitol.
Fetal Tissue Research
Last week in the Higher Education Committee, we heard legislation I am co-authoring that addresses the aborted fetal tissue controversy at the University of Minnesota. The bill would temporarily withhold $14 million that was allocated for 2017 specifically for a massive expansion of medical research at the university, until the establishment of a center to oversee the ethical procurement and use of fetal tissue, meaning using fetal tissue from babies who die of natural causes—not elective abortions. The bill would provide $1 million to help establish the fetal tissue research center.
The University of Minnesota misled state leaders and the public about their use of aborted fetal tissue for research in the past, and this bill holds them accountable, provides for transparency and helps them move forward away from the controversy in an ethical manner that assures compliance with state and federal law.
The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in a larger higher education omnibus bill. I will keep you updated on this legislation as it moves forward this session.
MNsure Tax Relief
Last week, the House Taxes Committee passed legislation that would help save Minnesota families and businesses at least $15 million on their health insurance premiums over the next two years. I know many people in Wright County have experienced rising health insurance costs and problems with MNsure, and this legislation will help save people money and hold our health care exchange accountable.
The legislation would cut the tax MNsure collects on policies sold through the exchange in half from 3.5 to 1.75 percent. What's more, as MNsure continues to struggle with even basic requirements like mailing out 1095-A tax forms on time, the bill would tie operational performance benchmarks to MNsure and if they go unmet, their tax would be reduced to 1.5 percent in 2018 and any year thereafter where they fall short.
While House Republicans are working to save Minnesotans money, Democrats in the Senate are hearing legislation that would extend the MNsure premium tax to all health care plans sold both on and off the exchange, resulting in millions of health-care related tax increases.
I am on the side of saving you money, lowering health care costs and helping rein in a bloated, incompetent and out-of-control MNsure.
For anyone who has not yet taken my 2016 Legislative Survey, it's available to take online. I appreciate the opportunity to gather feedback from constituents about important issues being debated at the Capitol. Your opinions are valuable and guide me toward supporting legislation that best serves our community.
To take my survey, just go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ONeill2016
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Also, don't forget to share my survey with your friends and family in District 29B!
If you need assistance an issue pertaining to state government, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.