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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Marion Rarick (R)

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Legislative Update (Oct. 10, 2013)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear neighbor,

As you may already know, MNsure – the Minnesota arm of Obamacare– is now open. The beginning of October also marked the deadline for the grand unveiling for the new MNsure website. On October 1, the site went live just a few minutes after 3:00 p.m. and then crashed for about 30 minutes before becoming available with limited functions. There were widespread delays and errors with creating accounts, verifying identity, and comparing plan costs. One notable delay is the “search by provider” function. The website asks users if it's important for them to keep their current doctor or clinic. When a user clicks the “yes” button, a message appears saying the function isn't available. This may be a big problem for people who are anxious to find out if they can keep their doctor if they buy a plan through MNsure.

We’ve also learned that while small businesses will now be able to pick plans for their employees to choose from, their employees will not be able to enroll until December. This is cutting it very close to the December 15 deadline for enrollment for January 1 coverage.

It has taken two years and $150 million taxpayer dollars just to get Obamacare in Minnesota off the ground, and questions remain about the cost of plans and number of options available on MNsure, and the security of personal information in the enrollment process. Given the fact that a MNsure employee inadvertently e-mailed names, addresses, and social security numbers of over 1,000 insurance agents to a broker’s office in Apple Valley, I’m skeptical that the personal information of the 1.3 million Minnesotans that MNsure seeks to enroll will be kept secure.


Toward the end of the legislative session, Democrats passed a bill that would force childcare providers – independent small business owners – to join a union. Since Governor Dayton signed the legislation, the law has been challenged in court by childcare providers. While a federal district court initially dismissed the lawsuit, the childcare providers appealed. A few weeks ago, we learned that the federal appellate court granted the childcare providers’ motion for an injunction of the childcare unionization law – essentially putting the law on hold temporarily.

The appeals court ruled the law should be halted until we know whether the U.S. Supreme Court would be taking up a similar case out of Illinois. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was, in fact, taking up the Illinois-based case. This means that Minnesota’s childcare unionization law is on hold for now until we hear otherwise from the federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Illinois case may come as late as June of 2014. I’ll continue to keep you updated about this law. We all know that hardworking moms and dads simply cannot afford the higher costs and fewer options that unionization would impose on childcare.


On Monday October 7, I attended a debate about a bill that would impose a 55% hike in the minimum wage in Minnesota. As co-chair of the House Small Business Caucus, I’ve been concerned about the impact of this legislation since it was introduced. The debate took place at Maple Lake Bowl – owned by former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo – in Maple Lake. Senator Koch debated Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley). Representative Winkler’s bill to raise the minimum wage would force many small businesses in our community to make difficult decisions such as cut hours or staff, and not expand or grow their business. Nursing homes and disability group homes that rely on fixed rates set by the state would be severely squeezed between a minimum wage increase and no increase in their rates.

Everybody can agree that many hardworking Minnesotans aren’t making enough money. The honest solution to that problem is to grow jobs with higher take-home pay in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the policies pushed by Representative Winkler and his party discourage job growth in Minnesota – especially their new sales tax on warehousing, equipment repair and telecommunications. Republicans are committed to building a healthier economy where Minnesota businesses compete for good employees by offering higher wages.


I wanted you to be aware of this "Action Alert" from the I-94 West Corridor Coalition. Please follow the instructions below and contact MNDOT to support expansion of I-94 between Highway 101 (Rogers) and Highway 241 (St. Michael).

Minnesota I-94 West Corridor Coalition

MnDOT is seeking public comments and suggestions for projects to be funded by the Corridors of Commerce Program.

We urge you to contact MnDOT in support I-94 capacity expansion between Highway 101 and Highway 241. 

Submit suggestions online, by email or phone: Matt Shands 651-3664893

Projects will be evaluated on criteria fulfillment. Below are criteria that I-94 meets and exceeds.

Return on Investment:

  • I-94 is one of the most congested roadways in the Interregional Corridor System. 
  • 40% of the congestion on the Interregional Corridor occurs on a 50 mile stretch between Highway 101 in Rogers and Highway 23 in St. Cloud.

Improvements to Traffic Safety

  • The crash and severity rate is significantly higher than the state average.  Many accident victims require helicopter evacuation due to the congestion of the roadway.
  • I-94 is the main evacuation route for the Monticello Nuclear Plant, yet it cannot even handle traffic demands during normal, everyday situations. 
  • The National Guard uses alternate routes to avoid I-94 traffic delays also putting undue stress on local road systems.    

Improvement to Freight Movement

  • Serving as both the primary link to St. Cloud and the only freight corridor to North Dakota, I-94 is a vital economic artery for the Upper Midwest.
  • GNP Company, makers of Gold n' Plump Chicken, estimates that it loses $250,000 annually due to traffic delays on Interstate 94.
  • Spee Dee Delivery estimates that it loses $200,000 annually in traffic delays on I-94.
  • King Solutions has been forced to adjust their delivery schedules to avoid delays and financial losses due to congestion on I-94.

Connections to Regional Trade Centers

  • I-94 serves thousands of consumers on their way to both the Albertville Outlet Mall and St. Cloud.
  • Thousands of vacationers and cabin owners travel to the lake country via I-94 every summer weekend; most structure their weekend plans to avoid delays and backups on I-94.

Community Support

  • Businesses and political leaders in local communities have united in an effort to expand I-94 capacity.
  • Individuals are actively submitting how I-94 congestion affects their daily lives to the website.

Project Readiness

  • Preliminary steps to make the I-94 project a reality have been taken; the right of way between Highway 101 and Highway 241 is under the control of MnDOT, and the environmental impact statements have already been completed.  The I-94 project is ready for construction and could be added to the construction schedule as soon as funding is in place.


As stated above, project suggestions and comments can be made at:  or email: call: Matt Shands at 651-366-4893


As always, you can still contact me by e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-5063. I would gladly tour your business and learn directly from you how these changes will be affecting your business.






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