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2010 Minnesota Legislative Week in Review

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2010 Minnesota Legislative Week in Review
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

It was another interesting week in St. Paul. Here is an update on some

of the top issues.

BONDING. On Monday, the Senate approved a Capital Investment bill

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topping $1 billion in spending. Curiously, the House and Senate DFL

decided to play political games with the bill after hurriedly working it

through the legislative process. Although the bill was approved by both

bodies and Gov. Pawlenty's veto was imminent, a little-used ploy

brought the bill back to the Senate. House and Senate negotiators are

now talking with the Governor about reprioritizing projects in the bill

and trimming it down to a more affordable figure. We should see a more

sensible bill reemerge on the Senate floor next week.

GAMC. As expected, the DFL majority in the Senate forced a veto

override to restore funding to the General Assistance Medical Care

(GAMC) program. The House will likely attempt the override next week.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the program, so I

wanted to pass on some background and my thoughts.

GAMC is a state-funded program that pays for certain health care

services for low-income, single, childless adults. It is one of three

programs Minnesota uses to distribute public health care benefits. It

was created in 1975 as a joint program with counties to help the

disabled. Over the years, eligibility grew and the state became

responsible for the full tab. The program's 35,000 enrollees claim but

aren't required to have a medical diagnosis of disability, are often

chemically dependent, and have incomes below 75 percent of the poverty

line.

Today, the program grows at about 36 percent each two-year budget cycle

and is on track to cost the state $1 billion next year. It was with an

eye to reform and cost-effectiveness that Gov. Pawlenty unfunded the

program and sought to move people from GAMC to MinnesotaCare. The costs

of care in the MinnesotaCare program are significantly less on a

per-patient and per-visit basis than in the GAMC program. Considering

our current $1.2 billion budget deficit and probable $5 billion deficit

ahead, I think this was a necessary move.

Many on both sides of the aisle tried to work with DFL leaders who seem

driven by politics to restore at least partial funding to the program.

But what they brought to the Senate floor and ultimately sent to the

Governor offered no reform and continued to drive our budget further

into debt. For these reasons, I voted against this bill and to uphold

the Governor's veto.

VOTER PHOTO ID. In the House, an amendment was offered on an elections

bill (HF 2552) which would have required voters to present a valid photo

identification card to vote. Unfortunately, the amendment failed mostly

along party lines. I am a coauthor of this legislation in the Senate

and will offer a similar amendment on future election bills. I feel

that this is a common sense policy and protects the integrity of our

elections. A valid photo ID is required for nearly everything in our

society these days and I do not see how it will harm or disenfranchise

any legal citizen from voting.

BRONZE STAR LICENSE PLATE. I am authoring a bill that would allow

bronze star recipients to have a specialized state license plate that

displays their medal. Earlier this year, I was approached by a

constituent with the idea who was a bronze star winner. I thought it was

a great idea because it allows the brave men and women who have

sacrificed so much to receive some well deserved recognition and honor.

We passed our first hurdle and the bill was unanimously approved in the

Agriculture & Veterans Budget and Policy Committee. It has been

referred to the Transportation Committee and I will keep you updated as

it progresses. The bill is supported by the American Legion and has no

cost to taxpayers.

Thanks for taking the time to read my update and please feel free to

contact me with your questions and comments.

Sincerely,

Bill

===========================================

State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen encourages and appreciates constituent

input, and can be reached at 651-297-8063, by mail at 123 State Office

Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at

sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn.

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