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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - A MinnesotaCare Public Option

Friday, March 22, 2024
Howard Banner

Dear Neighbors,

All Minnesotans deserve to live healthy lives, and a huge part of that is ensuring access to affordable, quality health care. Unfortunately, too many in our state are struggling to afford health insurance. Working families without employer-based insurance often face outrageous premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. For instance, many plans on the individual market have annual deductibles of $7,000 or higher. This puts Minnesotans in an impossible predicament, which leads to people avoiding care and results in poor health outcomes – sometimes with tragic consequences.

One plan to solve this problem impacting middle-class Minnesotans is the bill to establish a MinnesotaCare Public Option, legislation I’m co-authoring with several of my colleagues. It would allow all Minnesotans to access comprehensive health insurance coverage – with vision, dental, and more – with low out-of-pocket costs and a large network of quality medical providers. People enrolled in the Public Option would pay their own premiums – with significantly lower prices than what’s available currently on the individual market – determined on a sliding scale based on income.


MinnesotaCare has been a nation-leading, highly successful, and trusted health insurance program serving low-income working Minnesotans for over 30 years. The bill is currently advancing through the committee process in the House. You can read more about this bill here.


Protecting Affordable Housing Units

We need to be in an all-hands-on-deck mode to address our housing crisis, and a bill I brought before the Housing Committee this week would help address that by allowing the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to utilize housing infrastructure bonds to assist affordable housing organizations.

Specifically, funds would go towards existing affordable housing units - because it’s not enough to just build more, we need to also take care of what we have. These are housing units that were developed with public financing, and the state has a vested interest in ensuring these remain quality homes for years to come. 

You can watch the bill’s hearing here.



More Support for School Meals

Last week, the Minnesota House passed legislation to adjust state formula-funded programs to match the updated February 2024 budget forecast. The biggest changes in this bill are related to the overwhelming popularity of universal school breakfast and lunch programs which we enacted last year. Participation in the universal school meals program surpassed the initially anticipated increase by more than 20%. I’m happy to say this bill passed with unanimous support. 

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Cindy Long came to Minnesota to celebrate the 4.3 million more breakfasts and 4.5 million more lunches that were served to Minnesota students last fall than in the same period in 2022.

School Meals

MPR had a great story about the success of this program that you can read here.


Stay Connected

Now is the best time to reach out with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas you have for our work in the Minnesota House. Always feel free to email me at or give my office a call at 651-296-7158.

You can also stay up to date by following my official Facebook page, subscribing to these regular email updates if you haven’t already, and checking my legislative webpage for the latest information from my office. 

In partnership, 


Michael Howard