Rep. Linda Slocum (50A) – Legislative Update
Tuesday, January 3rd marked the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session in St. Paul. I was officially sworn in as the state representative for District 50A. I am honored and humbled to represent our communities of Richfield and Bloomington at the State Capitol.
Economic forecasts revealed early last month that the Minnesota economy is stable with a projected $1.4 billion budget surplus this year.
The budget forecast certainly is positive news. However, there are clear areas where we have more work to do. The current rising costs of health insurance rates for individuals in the private market need immediate attention from the legislature. We also must come together to raise incomes and job opportunities for Minnesotans and make sure our economy is working for everyone.
Our state fiscal health is strong and I am positive that when we prioritize the basic needs of Minnesota families, there is much we can accomplish this year. Minnesotans have done so much to position our state for success, and we can’t let them down.
Here are a few other things you might need to know:
HEALTH CARE PREMIUMS
Families in the individual health insurance market are facing steep premium increases. DFL legislators supported a plan last week that had been previously agreed to by Governor Dayton, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and the Senate to provide a 25 percent premium reduction for 125,000 Minnesotans right away.
Unfortunately, Republicans appear to be using this crisis as an excuse to help their corporate allies – including sweeping changes such as allowing for-profit health insurance companies to operate in Minnesota in their legislation. This is delaying immediate relief for Minnesota families.
The public needs time to weigh-in on long-term changes or we could make the problem worse. We can have that conversation throughout the rest of the legislative session, but Minnesotans need relief now, and there’s no excuse not to deliver it. It is my priority to get this help to Minnesotans as quickly as possible.
Governor Dayton has proposed a Jobs Bill that would invest $1.5 billion in community infrastructure projects, creating an estimated 22,950 Minnesota jobs and supporting local economies across the state. The bill includes investments in nearby Normandale Community College and the City of Bloomington’s parks, but it will also spur job creation statewide. You can read more about the plan here: http://mn.gov/governor/issues/jobs-bill/
The Majority in the House wants to delay the Jobs Bill until next year, but we cannot afford to wait. With interest rates at historic lows, construction projects are much cheaper than they will be in the future. We need to act now to stimulate Minnesota’s economy and invest in our future.
STRUGGLING TO PAY HEAT BILL?
With more frigid temperatures here, the Minnesota Department of Commerce wants to remind low-income Minnesotans on how to get help paying their heating bills through the state’s Energy Assistance Program.
Energy Assistance helps low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households. The funding also helps some homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heat systems.
New applicants have until May 31, 2017 to apply, but funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualifying households must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. To find your local service provider, call the Commerce Department toll-free at 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Commerce Department’s website.
Come tour our newly restored State Capitol!
Free 45-minute tours are available daily and start on the hour. They leave from the Information Center in Room 126. If you have a larger group, you can schedule a tour by emailing email@example.com or calling 651-259-3003. For K-12 Field Trips, visit mnhs.org/fieldtriprequest or call 1-800-387-5008.
I want to hear from you!