A bi-weekly update, as of April 3, 2017 compliments of the Public Affairs Office, House Republican Caucus:
Minnesota Premium Security Plan (reinsurance) – Gov. Mark Dayton allowed the state-based Minnesota Premium Security Act/Reinsurance to become law without his signature on April 3. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman testified during the conference committee process that the Act could reduce premium rates by 20%.
The Governor felt that the reinsurance should be funded with a new tax, this one on the industry itself. Such a new tax is not part of the law. Instead, the Act taps the Health Case Access Fund and the General Fund. The Republican-led legislature also rejected the Governor’s proposal to expand the state-run MinnesotaCare. The Governor continues to promote government “single-payer” options over the competitive marketplace to solve problems. This despite the problems created when earlier marketplace constraints implemented under MNSure failed so clearly.
Public Safety – Broad bipartisan support approved a bill to fund judiciary and public safety priorities over the next two years. It includes
Increased penalties against those who choose to participate in illegal protests that put people’s lives at risk
Funding to address domestic violence prevention and terrorism recruitment
Stronger penalties for sex offenders
Longer supervision for convicted sexual predators
Additional sex trafficking prevention grants
Increased penalties against those who possess and disseminate child pornography
New money to local law enforcement agencies to help pay for officers’ training costs and to help officers in dealing with suicidal and mentally disturbed people
Creation of crisis intervention team training and training in implicit bias
Replacement of an outdated predatory offender registry maintained by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
Transportation Budget bill, called the Minnesota Road & Bridge Act, passed the House with bipartisan support at the end of March. It budgets $2.1 billion toward Minnesota’s transportation needs with an emphasis on the roads and bridges used by Minnesotans each and every day. It uses existing resources, without raising taxes. It creates a new fund of existing tax revenue streams called the Transportation Priorities Fund. This new fund uses current, transportation-related state tax revenues to invest $450 million for roads and bridges. Additionally, the transportation proposal would fund:
$25 million for the Small Cities Road Assistance program
$300 million for Corridors of Commerce program
$35 million for rail grade crossings
Funding to repair or replace all 97 bridges on MnDOT’s local bridge priority list
The Senate passed its own transportation proposal. Both proposals have gone to conference committee for reconciliation.
Education Bill – House Republicans passed an Education Bill at the end of March that builds on last biennium’s historic investment in our students and schools. It provides for
$1.1 billion in increased funding
Redirecting Voluntary Pre-K funding into proven early learning programs
More accountability and streamlining of early education
Repeal of Last-In-First-Out, keeping the best teachers in the classroom
Targeted before/after and summer school for kids who need it
Abolishing the Perpich Center stand-alone state agency
Teacher Licensure Reform – House Republicans passed a reform bill that creates a tiered teacher licensure system. It would be administered by a new Professional Educator Licensing Board. The bill is based on significant changes recommended by the Office of the Legislative Auditor in 2015. These reforms address the teacher shortage that Minnesota in facing. The teacher licensure system needed streamlining and the transparency that a new dedicated governing board would provide.