Minnesota State Legislators return to St. Paul on April 18 with a significant number of issues to address during the closing five weeks of the 2017 session. Leaders in both the House and Senate established earlier committee deadlines to better manage larger pieces legislation before the session is scheduled to end and to avoid the potential for a special session. As a result, several bills with impacts to the agriculture sector could be taken up soon.
In the days leading up to the Legislature’s annual Spring Break (April 7-16), several high-profile bills have either received approval and await Gov. Dayton’s action or are making the final turns in the legislative process before moving forward for the Governor’s approval.
Health Insurance Reform
Although Congress was unable to pass a health insurance reform package in March, the Minnesota Legislature did. Both the Senate and House passed the reinsurance plan that we have discussed in recent weeks,
Under the Minnesota Constitution, the State Legislature and Governor are responsible for developing a new state budget every two years. Budgets are crafted during odd numbered years, immediately following the previous year’s elections. The state’s fiscal budget year is July 1 – June 30, so the legislature and Governor have a real deadline, unless they are prepared to risk a government shutdown.
How well a state budget is developed and adopted depends in part on ideological differences between those who control the state’s House,
During the first few weeks of this year’s Legislative session, Republicans and Democrats worked quickly to pass a bipartisan bill to provide $326 million in premium relief to people who obtain their health insurance through the individual market exchange. When passing the bill, legislators and Gov. Dayton acknowledged that a more permanent solution was needed to avoid skyrocketing insurance premiums for 2018 and to ensure that insurance companies wouldn’t abandon the individual market. During March,
Earlier this session, both House and Senate leadership established committee deadlines that were earlier in the legislative calendar than those in past legislative sessions. The shorter deadlines mean that key policy legislation needs crisp action to adhere to leadership’s strict schedule. By last Friday, for example, all bills that have been introduced had to pass out of committees in their house of origin to remain viable. As a result, agriculture issues received a significant amount of attention during the week.
Written by John Himle
In late December I remarked in this space how the 2016 election would be one for the history books. If the first few weeks of 2017 under the capitol dome are any indication, then this legislative session may likewise become one for future study.
Before the opening gavel and through the first few weeks of the session, both the Governor and Legislative leaders voiced strong opinions about the health insurance crisis looming in the state’s individual marketplace,
Dear MCGA member,
Over the past few weeks, members have shared their stories with us regarding cancelled health insurance coverage and massive premium hikes. What we have heard overwhelmingly from our members is that options are limited and the options that are available are unaffordable, an issue further compounded by a struggling rural economy.
MCGA will be discussing potential solutions to pursue legislatively over the next few months during our grassroots process.