2010 Minnesota Legislative Week in Review
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
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
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.
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