This week has been very exciting. Along with approving the set of rules that we’ll use throughout the session, we passed a bill to expand Medicaid coverage for low income Minnesotans and a bill to help people across the state file their taxes.
The expanded health insurance coverage will help 40,000 people get the health care they need, and it’s paid for by the federal government. This means that instead of going into the emergency room and passing on the expense of their medical care to those with insurance, many more people will now be covered on a plan that is funded by federal health insurance dollars. This will help lower health care costs for the state, bring down costs for individual plans, and give thousands of Minnesota families the health insurance they desperately need. It’s a win-win-win for our state and our district.
The other bill that passed this week will bring Minnesota taxes into conformity with federal tax guidelines. It allows the tax filing process to be simpler and easier and the bill had broad bipartisan support. It’s exactly the kind of common sense legislation I’ll be working on this session.
There are also a couple bills that I personally authored that are getting moved through committee, and hopefully to the full chamber of the House. One bill is being discussed in Capital Investment that would develop a fund for saving energy in school buildings across the state. It would help schools replace windows, insulation, or even heating and cooling equipment by offering low interest loans that would be paid for out of this fund. Those loans would then be paid back to the fund using the cost savings from the lower utility bills that come with more efficient facilities. This bill would require an initial investment, but it would then be sustained by those loan repayments. It would be good for schools districts, the environment, and for local tax payers. Because once the initial loan is paid off, schools are left with lower utility bills that will benefit the budget and lessen the need for local property tax dollars.
My other bill that’s being heard in committee will make ARMER radio purchases exempt from state taxes. Across the state, first responders are upgrading their radio equipment to comply with federal guidelines. But that new equipment can be a big cost for a lot of cities, counties, and organizations. This bill would help reduce that cost by removing the state tax on those purchases. Public safety isn’t something we can pick and choose to prioritize. Every community in our district and the state needs first responders who can help keep people safe in the event of any kind of emergency that may come up.
Rep. Jay McNamar blogs about the legislative session online at http://jaymcnamar.areavoices.com/.