It’s been another busy week in Saint Paul. Here is an update from the Capitol.
Premium Relief Passes House
There’s some positive news this week for the families and Minnesotans who are struggling under the crippling financial burden of Obamacare. The House and Senate have now both passed legislation that includes premium relief and reforms to begin turning around our floundering individual market.
The House passed its version on Thursday which provides a 25 percent premium reduction to qualifying Minnesotans who don’t receive federal assistance via MNsure, preserves access to life-saving care so people can continue seeing their doctor, and includes reforms that will increase affordability and accessibility.
It’s frustrating that MNsure and Obamacare have put Minnesotans in this terrible situation, but I am glad we are advancing this legislation quickly. The bill will provide both immediate financial relief, as well as much-needed reforms.
The next steps for this legislation will be to craft a final negotiated version of the bill in conference committee, before being repassed out of both the House and Senate, and sent to Governor Dayton for his signature.
Sunday alcohol sales, a popular issue that is supported by many Minnesotans, is currently moving through the legislative process. It passed out of the Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee earlier this week on a vote of 15-4.
I expect this legislation to come to the House Floor later this session and will be supporting the measure. This change is long overdue. Consumers should be able to buy alcohol on Sundays, and retailers should have the option to be open any day of the week they choose. I will keep you updated if this bill moves forward this year.
Reforming Chemical Dependency Treatments
This session I will be bringing forward legislation to help reform chemical dependency treatments for people in our courts and corrections system. Around 90 percent of Minnesotans going through our court system have a chemical dependency and approximately 60 percent have some form of mental health issue. If we are able to help people in prison, in jail or on probation or parole turn around their lives and get the care they need, they are much less likely to reoffend.
To help me as I begin to work on reform legislation this year, I met with the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, staff from the chemical dependency and adult mental health divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, Director of R.S. Eden and Rich Scherber, the President of Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge on Friday. These organizations both do a wonderful job helping Minnesotans through their recovery, and their input and guidance is invaluable as we work to craft effective state policy.
If you need assistance on 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.