Legislative Update March 22, 2017

A bi-weekly update, compliments of the Public Affairs Office, House Republican Caucus:

  • Draining the Swamp in St. Paul (continuing story) --In December, it was revealed that temporary DFL campaign staffers were taking advantage of job loss benefits provided by the state after the election.  The Job Growth & Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee is making changes to the Dislocated Worker Program to address this abuse.

  • Minnesota_Way_Leg_Update.jpgBudget the Minnesota Way (#MNWay).  House Republicans released a budget that respects taxpayers while investing in key middle-class priorities like tax relief, road and bridge infrastructure, education and lowering health care costs.   Highlights:

  • $1.35 billion in tax relief – the largest of any proposal so far this session

  • $450 million in new funding for road and bridge infrastructure -- more than doubling current general fund investment in transportation

  • an overall budget target that ensures a sustainable level of state spending for the next biennium – the lowest of any proposal and indicative of House Republicans' continued focus on slowing the growth of state government spending

    The budget resolution containing the targets will serve as the framework for Finance Committees as they construct their budgets.

  • Republican Omnibus Transportation Budget bill, called the Minnesota Road & Bridge Act, was unveiled. The bill invests $6 billion over the next decade, with $2 billion spent in the next two years alone, without raising the gas tax.
  • The focus is on roads and bridges, smart transit & Met Council reform and sustainable, dedicated funding through a Transportation Priorities Fund made up of existing tax revenue.  Republican’s believe that state priorities, including road and bridge infrastructure, can be funded without a harmful gas tax increase. At a time when Minnesota has a $1.6 billion surplus, House Republicans will not raise taxes on Minnesota families to pay for a core function of government like roads and bridges.

  • Minnesota Health Insurance Premium Security Program – the House voted to establish a state-based reinsurance called the Minnesota Premium Security Plan. The bipartisan proposal ensures that Minnesotans with the greatest medical needs are taken care of while working to reduce premium rates by an estimated 17-18 percent or more.  The Democrats' alternative puts more people on MinnesotaCare.  This “MNsure 2.0 scheme” would further shrink an individual market that has been decimated by Obamacare and put an even greater financial burden on fewer people.  Further, Democrats’ MNsure 2.0 scheme would devastate rural and critical access hospitals by requiring dramatic and arbitrary cuts to medical reimbursement rates. Another Proposal for Middle-class Tax Relief -- the House Taxes Committee is considering expanding eligibility for, and the amount of, the Dependent Care credit.

  • Healthcare Marketplace.  House Republicans will consider a bill moving Minnesota from a state-based exchange to a partnership with a state-based marketplace that uses the federal platform, similar to Kentucky.

  • Reducing Wasteful State Government Spending -- Government Operations & Elections Policy Committee is considering House File 1005, to reduce redundant Deputy Commissioners within the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

  • House Blocking Pay Raise.  Republican House Speaker Daudt directed the Minnesota House Controller to not implement the salary recommendation from the Legislative Salary Council. “House Republicans are working hard to pass common-sense policies aimed at growing good-paying jobs for Minnesotans.  Middle-class families’ needs must come first – tax relief, lower health care costs, improved roads and bridges, and strong schools. We are choosing not to fund the Council’s recommendation to increase salaries for members of the House,” said Speaker Daudt.