Senate District 46 Town Hall Date & Location:
Tuesday, January 31st, at 6:00 pm at the St. Louis Park City Hall, Council Chambers.
CAPITOL UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2017
As most of you know, this past Wednesday, the Sabes JCC became the latest Jewish community center nationwide to receive a bomb threat. I had planned to be there that evening for an event. We do not have all the details yet, but I have the utmost confidence in our local law enforcement and their broader enforcement partners. I am very thankful for the outpouring of love and support for our community! I know we will continue to stand together against those who intend to inflict terror on any group or individual anywhere. If we do not speak out against aggression, we are inviting those with hate in their heart to test the waters.
This week, Senator Dibble (right) and I meet with members of A Wider Bridge and our local JCRC. This organization builds bridges between LGBTQ Israelis and North Americans and allies. They focus on programming that builds profound and lasting connections!
On the Senate Floor
Health Insurance Premiums
Over 100,000 Minnesotans who buy their health insurance on the individual market are facing premium hikes in 2017. Premium relief is needed now. Addressing this issue and providing relief to these Minnesotans has been my highest priority. Governor Dayton has outlined a plan which uses $300 million to lower premiums by 25% for everyone not qualifying for federal subsidies. The Governor’s plan would directly subsidize the plans on the front-end with the insurance companies to lower monthly payments immediately.
Unfortunately, Senate Republican’s bill does not provide the needed relief until 2018. A plan is tied to unvetted reform measures that do not require the same urgency as premium relief. It contains ‘means testing’ and creates additional red tape prior to anyone seeing relief. The many constituents that have contacted me expressing their need for relief now cannot wait until 2018. Also, under this plan, many small business owners whose income fluctuates would not receive help. Those making more than three times the poverty level would not see a reduction in their premiums. The Governor’s plan is a much simpler and efficient way to provide immediate relief to Minnesotans.
Tax Conformity Legislation
On January 12th, the Senate and House unanimously passed tax conformity measures that brought Minnesota tax law up to date with the Federal Tax Code. Governor Dayton signed the bill into law last Friday. The bill provides $21 million in tax relief to 200,000 Minnesotans including families and students paying for college, small business owners, teachers, combat veterans, and many others. The Department of Revenue already possesses information on whoqualifies for additional tax relief with the new conformity regulations.
My Bill Introductions
Minnesota College Affordability Act (SF 156)
This week, I introduced the Minnesota College Affordability Act, a bill that addresses the rapidly rising college tuition costs and student debt burden. This bill provides free tuition at 2- and 4-year Minnesota State University schools and University of Minnesota system campuses for undergraduate students whose families make under $125,000 per year. This bill, along with Senator Clausen’s SF 165 on yearly tax credits for those currently paying student loans off, will combat the burgeoning problem for future and current students, as well as alumni paying off student loans.
Email Retention (SF 123)
Many were troubled to learn that the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and other local units of government had decided to institute a policy to destroy email records within as short as 30 days. In response, I introduced legislation that requires emails be preserved for a much longer period of time and sets requirements for local government units to retain electronic communications and records for a specified period of time. This will be a positive measure for our government’s public transparency and accountability.
MSBA (SF 91)
This bill changes state statutes as recommended by the Minnesota State Bar Association in order to clarify and better outline laws pertaining to non-profit corporations, mergers, and incorporations of businesses. The State Bar bills receive the endorsement of the relevant section prior to being pursued at the legislature meaning these bills already have consensus—I anticipate a smooth process. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in Judiciary on January 25th.
Judiciary Committee News
Over the past few weeks, the Judiciary Committee has been conducting its standard overview of state agencies and boards. Since the beginning of session, we have heard from the following agencies and groups: