Yesterday, the Minnesota Legislature convened for a one-day Special Session to approve $4.5 million in disaster relief funding for 18 southern and central Minnesota counties damaged by storms in June. The bill also included flexibility that will allow Rock and Nobles County, as well as the City of Worthington, to respond to ice storms that hit their communities in April.
The 2013 Disaster Relief Bill does not appropriate any new funds and has zero impact on the General Fund.
When Minnesotans are affected by natural disasters the state legislature has always come together and answered the call to help get Minnesotans back on their feet, and I’m happy we were able to do so again.
I also co-authored a bill to repeal the tax on farm equipment repairs. The bill was not part of a special session agreement between legislative leaders and Governor Dayton and was not voted on.
I had hoped we could have used this opportunity to help hardworking farmers in our area, and advocated strongly for its repeal. Our farmers have had to deal with a lot the last year and I will continue to push for the repeal of this tax and hope we can do it next session.
According to data from the Department of Revenue, the farm equipment repair tax, which went into effect on July 1 of this year, will cost $28 million over two years. The bill would repeal that particular tax without any further adjustments because of extra reserves built into the balance budget that was passed in late May. As a result, Minnesota would preserve its first structurally balanced budget since before the Great Recession.
In addition, I co-authored a bill that would delay the implementation of the warehouse tax until January 2015 with a full repeal after that if there is still a surplus once our schools have been paid back.
The legislature did a lot of good last session: all-day kindergarten, a college tuition freeze, property tax relief, job creation measures, early childhood scholarships, and more affordable health care. I look forward to continuing that great work with my colleagues next session and am hopeful we can work together to repeal these taxes and pursue meaningful reforms.
MNsure Rates Announced
Last week, MNsure, the state’s health care exchange, released the individual policy premium rates, which are the lowest average rates in the country for health insurance plans sold through Minnesota’s new health insurance marketplace, MNsure, when it opens on October 1, 2013. This is great news for the people of Minnesota.
Rates for policies available on MNsure for the individual market start as low as $106 for a 25 year-old, non-smoker living in Kandiyohi County. Minnesotans will want to visit MNsure or call the MNsure consumer call center to learn whether tax credits available exclusively through MNsure can be applied to lower their premium payment even further.
Health plans included in MNsure will be sold during open enrollment which begins October 1, 2013 and coverage will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
MNsure plans are categorized as bronze, silver, gold or platinum based on how much of the cost is paid by the insured person. For example, bronze plans are likely to have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance. In addition to these four “metal levels,” high deductible “catastrophic plans” are available for young adults under age 30 and certain other qualifying individuals.
MNSure will help middle class Minnesotans to purchase better, private health care coverage at a better price. In most cases, these insurance products will have lower deductibles and cost-sharing than is available in the health insurance market today, with out-of-pocket spending capped at $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. Minnesotans can no longer be denied based on preexisting conditions and in order to apply for MNsure only age, location, and smoking status are needed.
For more information on Minnesota’s health insurance rates or the rate review process in Minnesota, please visit the Commerce Department’s website or MNsure to view the rates, frequently asked questions, and additional information about the new health care reform changes that begin January 1, 2014. You can also visit the MNsure website for more information.
For more information on the 15 networks approved by the Department of Health visit MDH’s website, http://health.mn.gov/mnsurenetworks, to review computer files of each network, displaying hospitals, clinics and chemical health providers. Each PDF file is organized by provider zip code and alphabetically within zip codes.
If you have any questions, concerns or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I appreciate hearing from you.
Thank you for the honor of serving you in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
All the best,