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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update (3-21-16)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dear Neighbors,

Below is a column I wrote that was published in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch over the weekend, previewing this year's legislative session. Please take a moment to give it a read!

The 2016 session is officially underway as lawmakers returned to St. Paul last week for what will be an unusually short session due to ongoing renovations at the Capitol. 

Despite the shorter session, there are a number of big issues that will be debated this year. Among my priorities this session is passing a tax bill that brings much needed relief to Minnesotans, a long term transportation bill that addresses our roads and bridges—without increasing the gas tax, and exploring additional ways we can help folks who are struggling with the effects of MNsure.

The biggest factor shaping this year’s legislative session is the state’s projected $900 million budget surplus. As you can imagine, there are a number of advocacy groups, agencies, and lawmakers who are promoting different ways they would like to see the surplus utilized.

Simply put, such a large budget surplus indicates that the state is taking in more money than it needs.

Given this, a top priority this session is bringing much needed tax relief to hard working Minnesotans. This means working with fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that helps all Minnesotans—middle class families, college students, seniors, veterans, small businesses, and more.

For myself, this means advocating for a repeal of the state’s tax on social security benefits and military pensions.

Minnesota is currently one of only a handful of states that tax both social security benefits and military pensions. Given the fixed incomes that many seniors live on and the rising cost of living, repealing this tax would serve as a raise for many seniors.

Additionally, repealing the veterans’ pension tax would attract a highly skilled, highly motivated group of people that often begin a career after serving our nation.

In addition to tax relief, I will be working on continued reforms to MNsure. The problems facing MNsure have been well documented as thousands of Minnesotans have seen their premiums skyrocket over the last several years.

In our area, the average monthly premium for a 40 year old in 2014 was $189. Beginning in January, that number rose to $281. For a family of four, they saw their rates rise 52 percent from $626 in 2014 to $952 in 2016.

To make matters worse, we found out this month that there are still thousands of customers who have not received 1095-A forms from MNsure.

Minnesotans who obtain insurance coverage through MNsure must have their 1095-A form before they're able to complete their taxes. Delays in distributing these forms could force Minnesotans to have to file extensions or pay late penalties from the federal government.

While MNsure has promised that they will get these forms out in time, it remains to be seen if deadlines will be made.

I am hopeful that we will be able to pass reforms that give Minnesotans more choice and increased competition in the marketplace in an effort to drive down costs that are having serious ramifications on Minnesota families.

Finally, I am committed to working with my colleagues to pass a transportation bill that makes significant investments in our aging roads and bridges—without a harmful gas tax increase.

The vast majority of Minnesotans are opposed to a gas tax increase and instead support a plan put forth by the House last year that would invest nearly $7 billion over the next 10 years into our roads and bridges—all without raising the gas tax.

Unfortunately, as we saw this week with Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal, the gas tax increase is not dead. However, with a $900 million budget surplus and a $2 billion tax increase from 2013 still fresh in folks’ minds, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ask Minnesotans to continue to give more and more of their hard earned money.

While session will be short, I am optimistic that we can accomplish important work this year if we focus on the things that matter most to the people we are so fortunate to represent.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at  It would be great to hear from you.