Greetings from the Capitol in St. Paul! We are officially underway with the new legislative session and started hearing bills in committee meetings this week. I’m proud to serve on the following committees: Transportation and Public Safety, Capital Investment, Health and Human Services, and the Subcommittee on Elections.
I look forward to keeping you updated with Minnesota legislative information and policy issues we’re focusing on at the Capitol right now.
More Gun Control Unnecessary
Recently there have been many inquiries about gun laws due to the recent school shooting in Connecticut. Keeping our children safe is not a partisan issue and I will work with all legislators to help make sure they are safe from any criminal activity. However, passing laws that push or surpass the rights found in the 2nd amendment will not address the underlying issues of lack of enforcement of current laws and the fact that criminals do not follow laws. The recent shooting actions in Newton, CT are already illegal under several current gun laws. Many of the president's action items either do not affect Minnesota directly or Minnesota is already complying with them. As is often the case, Minnesota is ahead of the federal government.
The main responsibility of this legislative session is to establish the state's budget for the next two years. MN Management & Budget will issue an economic forecast Feb. 28. The is the starting point for drafting our state budget for the 14-15 fiscal years and uses current law as its basis.
The last 3 forecasts have shown a combined $2.5 billion in surplus revenue and increasing each forecast. This increasing revenue and Minnesota's shrinking unemployment rate at 5.5% indicate our current laws and the economic recovery are taking us in the right direction.
However, new tax proposals have already been introduced that would cover several areas such as applying the sales tax to clothing. I don't understand how anyone can think this is a helpful step to Minnesotans.
Health Insurance Exchange
Part of the federal law gives each state an option to set up a health insurance exchange but under the strict regulation of the federal government. The approximately 30 state’s who choose not to do one, will have the federal government version to use. Minnesota is already at 91% coverage in health insurance, we already cover the "uninsureable" through the MNCHA program and several good programs are at risk of ending.
Governor Dayton has spent over $100 million to date on creating the Minnesota version through executive order with federal funding and a bill to support that (SF1) is working its way through the committee structure.
One of my main objections is the fact that a seven member un-elected federal governing board will have complete control to regulate and make decisions regarding your care through the exchange, with little or no accountability. The governing board is exempt from rule making statutes and there is no sunset or review process for the federal board. The board has the ability to limit the number of insurance companies who participate in the exchange.
These limitations do not promote competition or freedom of choice but worst of all, they put at risk the great programs already working in Minnesota. Again, Minnesota is ahead of the federal government and sadly, our progress is at risk.
While I serve on the Health and Human Services committee with oversight, I will be asking the hard questions on behalf of all Minnesotans.
Keep in Touch
Please contact me with any questions or comments or if you need any assistance on a state government issue. I will work to keep you informed of our issues at the Capitol, and please feel free to pass this newsletter to your friends and neighbors.
State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer
123 State Office Building
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
E-mail address- email@example.com