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

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Legislative Update (2-20-15)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Over the last several months the state’s non-partisan Legislative Auditor has been conducting an audit of MNSure. On Tuesday, the auditor shared his findings with members of the House and Senate. His report concluded that, “MNSure’s failures outweighed its achievements.”

While thousands of Minnesotans were more than aware of MNSure’s numerous shortcomings, it is still disappointing to hear these detailed in an official report. The report found that MNSure has been costly, inefficient, and failed to perform the functions for which it was created—to provide a user friendly experience for Minnesota families to compare and purchase insurance policies.

One of only thirteen states to have its own exchange, MNSure has cost Minnesota taxpayers nearly $200 million to build. The auditor noted that he was very concerned about the cost-benefit of the program and that the money could have been spent in a much more efficient manner.

Other problems that the auditor noted: 72 percent of MNSure enrollees claimed that they already had insurance prior to enrolling; 58 percent of those surveyed spent at least 4 hours on the enrollment process; 75 percent reported experiencing “significant” technical problems with the website.

Also concerning is the fact that the program has woefully underperformed its enrollment goals. In 2013, Democrat projections promised 413,000 enrollees. Instead, there has been 49,000 actual enrollments. This is problematic because MNSure relies on a tax on private enrollments to fund its operations.

This non-partisan report makes it clear that MNSure is not working in its current state. Minnesotans cannot afford to continue putting more of their hard earned tax dollars into a broken system. I am hopeful that the governor and the legislature will be able to come to a bipartisan solution to address the many problems facing MNSure.

Governor’s Transportation Plan

Governor Dayton has recently been traveling around the state touting his transportation plan. While I think most everyone agrees that our roads and bridges are in need of repair, not everyone agrees that imposing a new 6.5% tax on gas at the wholesale level is such a good idea.

It is unfortunate that the Governor has taken such a hard lined approach to his plan. This past week, in Mankato, the Governor said that if his $9 billion tax and fee proposal was not implemented, roads and bridges would not receive the repair they need.

I am disappointed that the governor is showing no effort to compromise or find solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved. Session does not end until the middle of May and to declare that the new wholesale gas tax is the only option on the table is irresponsible.

We, as a legislature, need to go through the process of assessing our state’s transportation needs, in dollars and cents, and be open to multiple sources to help fund the need. I am confident that roads and bridges funding will be addressed this biennium, but we need to make sure we do so in a responsible manner that does not put more undue pain on Minnesotan’s pocketbooks at the pump.

Property Tax Bill

I am authoring a bill, House File 491, that modifies the penalties for missed property taxes. The idea for this bill was brought to me by a county assessor from Morrison County.

In current law, half of property owners’ property taxes are due by May 16th, and the other half by October 16th. For those that miss the deadline, there are penalties imposed that increase each month that payment is missed.

HF491 reduces the amount of the penalties for homestead and non-homestead properties (capped at 8% and 12% respectively) vs 10% and 14% currently.

This cleans up complicated situations for families who may have just inherited property from a deceased family member and were otherwise unaware of property taxes that may have been due and the penalties associated.

Staying Connected

Thank you to those of you who braved the cold and took the time to attend last Saturday’s property tax listening session with myself, Rep. Dale Lueck, and Property Tax Chair Steve Drazkowski. It was great to hear from so many of you on how property taxes are affecting your businesses and personal pocket books. I am hopeful that we will find ways to stem rising property taxes and get Minnesotans the property tax relief they deserve.

Liking” my Facebook page and “following” my Twitter account are both great ways to stay connected with what is going on here in St. Paul.

If you are planning on being in St. Paul this session, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at to set up an appointment. It would be an honor to speak with you and discuss ways we can make Minnesota better.