Ingebrigtsen: Healthcare exchange bill limits choices
Editor's note: The following is a legislative update column written by State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.
Health and Human Services
The Healthcare Exchange bill was debated last week by the full Senate. Proponents expect 1.3 million people (about 1/4th of Minnesotans) to use the exchange to purchase health insurance. Unfortunately, this bill will increase health insurance costs for Minnesotans, limit choices in health insurance coverage and fail to protect private patient data. I voted for common-sense amendments throughout the process to address these concerns but no substantive improvements were accepted.
Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development
The Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee heard testimony on five minimum wage increase bills last week. Legislation was introduced and discussed to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $7.25, $7.50, $9.50 and even $10.55 per hour. Amendments and action will be taken on the bills in a future hearing.
Several key data practices measures have begun moving out of the Judiciary Committee and are being sent to the full Senate. These include a data classification and retention policy for law enforcement use of automatic license plate readers, a procedure for people to find out who is accessing their private data that the government holds, and a requirement of more investigation and report to private citizens when their data is breached.
State and Local Government
The State and Local Government Committee passed Senate File 778, a bill that could result in the unionization of child daycare providers. On a 7-5 party-line vote, the committee passed the AFSCME-supported bill after rejecting several Republican amendments to protect these private business owners and the families they serve. In response to AFSCME's testimony that this bill is about "raising subsidy rates," Republicans expressed concern that this bill would result in increased costs for families and taxpayers alike. Under the bill, even daycare providers who choose not to join the union would still be forced to pay union fees, be subject to the terms and conditions negotiated by the union, and be effectively deemed employees of the state.
Environment and Energy Policy Committee
This week the Environment Policy Committee passed bills to prohibit odometer tampering on off-road vehicles and snowmobiles; and a bill to modify expenditures to the Clean Water Fund; modify the petroleum cleanup fund. The committee also passed a bill to require paint, carpet and battery manufacturers fund a program that accepts and recycles used products they sell in Minnesota.
The bill creating a sand mining moratorium and providing for new mandates on local units of government in sand counties - previously passed by the Environment Committee - passed out of the State and Local Government Committee after a healthy debate.
Senator Ingebrigtsen can be reached at 651-297-8063, by mail at 143 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org