Regulations appropriately require that legislative updates stop during campaign season. And I'll confess to needing a bit of time even since then to process the results of the election. But now that several weeks have passed, I'm writing to address one important policy issue, as well as the larger post-election context.
Health Insurance Costs
I've been contacted by many constituents with deep concerns about massive rate increases in their individual health insurance policies for 2017. There are federal subsidies available for those with incomes below a certain level. But the many people not eligible for those subsidies face premium increases that could be financially crippling. Both short-term relief and longer-term reform are urgently needed.
Governor Dayton has said that he is willing to call a special session of the Legislature to address this crisis. In mid-October, my House DFL colleagues and I proposed a plan to provide rebates for 2017, such that no Minnesotan on the individual market would pay more than 10% of their annual income on health insurance. Governor Dayton and Senate Democrats have made similar proposals, any of which could be financed with the current state budget surplus of approximately $300 million. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any concrete response or counter-proposal from the Republican caucuses. I'll continue to stand with Governor Dayton in pushing for immediate help for those facing these large rate increases.
Determination & Gratitude
By this point, we've all read, watched, and thought much about the election results, in both our state and our country. After a campaign marked by much bigotry and misogyny, a number of constituents and others have shared with me their very personal fears going forward.
I've heard from women for whom hearing our new president-elect talk about forcing himself on women triggered their own memories of having been assaulted. (As a prosecutor of gender violence, I take this point especially personally.) I've heard from folks of color, who have noticed that one of the new Republican members of the Minnesota House actually called for President Obama to be lynched. I've heard from immigrants, including just yesterday from a Somali Minnesotan, who said that although she and her husband are citizens, they can't shake the anxious and stressful feeling that something could happen to them.
I hope and pray that these fears are calmed and that our state and country will flourish. I am determined to play my part. I have two particular steps to suggest for all of us:
The first is to make clear to those who may have these fears that we stand in solidarity with them. The Somali Minnesotan I mentioned above said how much she appreciated the simple assurance that others will help stand up for her rights. The Advocates for Human Rights - one of many groups that make us a national and global leader in the fight for human rights - is collecting reports of hatred and discrimination at the link available here.
The second is to engage in concrete acts of service. One immediate and local idea: Meals on Wheels offers Thanksgiving Day meals for families throughout the Twin Cities - and the preparation happens at Cretin-Derham Hall, right in our neighborhood! To help with preparation or cleanup, arrive at CDH (550 S. Albert in St. Paul) by 4:00am tomorrow (Thanksgiving) morning, if not earlier. To help with delivery by car, arrive at 7:30am. For information on other opportunities to receive or serve a Thanksgiving meal, click here.
The challenges that we face require the best from each one of us. I'm grateful to live in a country that, over more than 200 years, has recognized that truth more and more. I'm grateful for our freedoms and our opportunities. And I'm grateful for the chance to serve our community for another two years.
State Representative, District 64B