Last week, the House took up final passage of the government healthcare exchange bill. It came back to the House after the Senate had passed its own version and the proposal went to conference committee. Although the bill that passed the House the first time was bad, I was shocked to discover that the conference committee version was actually worse. The most disappointing part was removal of the language that would have prohibited abortion coverage under the government exchange. That particular provision passed the House with strong bipartisan support. Ultimately, the bill that came out of conference committee did nothing to address my concerns about the availability of healthcare options for consumers, affordability, and safeguards for privacy under the government exchange and I voted no on final passage. The bill passed the House with support only from DFL legislators.
Another piece of legislation making its way through the House is the unionization of the owners of in-home daycare centers bill. The House Labor, Workforce, & Regulated Industries Committee took up the bill last Thursday. As a member of that committee, I had several questions and very serious concerns about this proposal. Childcare providers – even the ones who accept CCAP (state assistance) – are small business OWNERS. Unions, however, are for employees. Even the DFL author of this proposal said as much. Thus, you can understand why I asked, “So, why we’re trying to unionize independent small business owners.” Given the fact that profit margins for childcare providers are already relatively small, I am concerned that imposing union dues will cause providers to decide to stop accepting CCAP and will lead to a shortage of providers for low income families. Of the 26,000 daycare providers, 11,000 currently accept CCAP and would be the ones unionized. If a provider did not wish to be a part of the union, she could refuse to accept CCAP. While some advocates of unionization suggest that $300 per year is minimal for union dues, if you add up $300 times 11,000 providers, that’s $3.3 million for unions. I wonder what they’ll do with that all that money.
Along with other legislators from the Sixth Congressional District, I participated in a press conference with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann today to push for the expansion of I-94. I appreciate the fact that Congresswoman Bachmann has made this her top legislative priority. It’s my top priority in St. Paul. Last week, I introduced legislation, House File 1292, before the House Transportation Policy Committee that would address the funding issues for I-94 expansion. Thank you to St. Michael City Administrator Steve Bot, Wright County Commissioner Michael Potter and Carl Kuhl of the Central MN Transportation Alliance for testifying in favor the his critical legislation.
In case you missed it, Governor Dayton released his updated budget proposal last week. While I appreciate the fact that he dropped the business-to-business tax and the expanded sales tax proposals, he remains committed to imposing higher taxes on small business owners through the creation of a fourth tier income tax bracket. I continue to oppose adding to the already-heavy tax burden for our families and businesses in our state. Just a note about the top two percent, small businesses such as LLCs, S-Corps and Partnerships file their business profits or "retained earnings" which is the profit that stays in the business, with the owner's take home pay and make up much of the top 2%.
I enjoyed seeing so many people at the Maple Lake St. Patrick’s Day Festival on Saturday. What a fun event!
Thank you to Jesse Neumann of Buffalo, Al Neumann of Buffalo, Richard Benson of Buffalo, Anne Browning of Buffalo, Joyce Saunders of Monticello, and Gordon Henry of Maple Lake for visiting me in my office in St. Paul last week.
As the legislative session moves forward, I am interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-5063. You can also send me mail to my office address: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family, friends, and neighbors so they can sign up and stay in touch.