The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.

 


Legislature back in session

Toby Pearson
By Toby Pearson  |  January 11, 2019  |  All members


The Minnesota Legislature reconvened Tuesday, January 8, 2019, for the first day of session—and while leaders said they want to seek common ground early on, foundational differences are already emerging.

Democrats swung into control of the House after scooping up 18 seats previously held by Republicans in the November election. House Speaker-designate Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) was elected to the speaker position. Republicans continue to control the Senate and currently have a two-seat majority. A special election in early February (Tony Lourey’s seat became vacant when he was appointed Commissioner) will determine whether they remain two seats ahead, or if their majority shrinks back to one seat.

Senate leaders rolled out their first five measures Tuesday morning, signaling some of their top priorities this session. The bills will focus on mental health, child care, healthcare costs, government accountability, and simplifying the tax code. House Democrats unveiled their first 10 proposals Wednesday, which closely mirrored the “Minnesota Values Plan” they released in September.

Legislators share some big goals like making healthcare more affordable. Senate Republicans said they want to do that by increasing transparency in healthcare bills and ensuring patients can select their doctor and shop around for services. House Democrats, meanwhile, said in their September plan that they—like Democratic Gov. Tim Walz—want to allow anyone to buy into MinnesotaCare, and see that as a steppingstone to universal healthcare.

Both sides of the aisle have also made helping families a priority. Democrats said they want to add more money for community-based child care and work on expanding public pre-K, with an aim of making it universally available to Minnesotans.

State Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), who is changing roles from house speaker to minority leader, said that House Republicans want to lower healthcare costs and return the state’s $1.5 billion budget surplus to residents through tax cuts. “We will work with Democrats when it is in the best interest of Minnesotans, but will oppose any agenda that calls for increasing healthcare costs or raising taxes at a time when our state has a $1.5 billion budget surplus,” Daudt said.

In the Senate, tax proposals would be focused on making Minnesotans’ lives better, simpler, and easier, said Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), without getting into the details of what would be proposed. He blasted Walz’s proposal to increase the tax plan as a change that would have “the opposite effect.”

Gun regulations are going to continue to be a point of contention this session. Mom’s Demand Action of Minnesota began a day of lobbying at the Capitol with a news conference before a room of about 50 supporters wearing red t-shirts bearing the group’s logo. “You have put us in a position to move legislation forward and to get legislation passed the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives,” said Hortman, who said two of the top 10 bills the majority planned to introduce at the beginning of session included “common sense gun violence prevention measures.”

Despite their differences, Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) have said they want to pass some lingering bills from last session that both sides agree on, but were caught up in end-of-session negotiations and got vetoed. Gazelka cited legislation to authorize spending of federal funds for election security as one example of a bill he’d like to see move sooner rather than later. “We have a fresh start,” Gazelka said. “We have a governor that is now in office that feels like he would be more pragmatic. I had a good working relationship with Gov. Dayton, but I think it will be different.”

Don’t forget to check future ACTION articles, as well as the “Advocacy” page of the Association website to stay up-to-date with everything going on during the 2019 session, including important session materials, bills we are tracking, grassroots efforts, and more!



 


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Care Providers of Minnesota is a non-profit membership association with the mission to Empower Members to Performance Excellence. Our 900+ members across Minnesota represent non-profit and for-profit organizations providing services along the full spectrum of post-acute care and long-term services and support. We are the state affiliate for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and with our national partners we provide solutions for quality care.


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