Legislative Round-Up

with Representive Chris Swedzinski

Legislation Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, authored to free up money for transportation projects has cleared its first House committee hurdle, the House Transportation Fiance Committee.

Swedzinski’s bill allows MnDOT and local governments to receive a sales tax exemption on materials, supplies, and equipment purchased by a contractor, subcontractor or builder and used on public transportation projects. “Through lump-sum contracts, Minneota actually pays sales taxes on the construction materials used in building our roads and bridges,” Swedzinski said.

“We came up with a plan for reimbursement where construction companies simply turn in their receipts for materials purchased throughout a project and the state is reimbursed so those dollars stay in transportation where they’re constitutionally dedicated.” In addition, “We did pass a couple of important bills, starting with final passage of $5 million in immediate funding to replenish our Local Road Wetland Replacement Program. Without the funding this bill provides, many 2017 local road projects would be delayed or canceled.”

“The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Mark Dayton for enactment,” said Rep. Swedzinski. LEGISLATION prohibiting the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) from enacting certain policies related to the mowing of highway ditches passed full Senate.

The bill prohibits MnDOT from requiring, issuing, or enforcing permits to mow or bale hay in the rights-of-way, until April 30, 2018. “I join my neighbors in rural Minnesota in applauding the Senate’s support of this bill,” said Senator Gary Dahms (R‒Redwood Falls), the bill’s chief author. “There has been a lack of communication and foresight from MnDOT on the rollout of this policy. Farmers and landowners have mowed and baled these ditches for years.”

“The sudden change in policy is inconvenient, costly, and comes without input from those whom it affects,” Sen. Dahms added. “Establishing a moratorium will allow policymakers and the other stakeholders to work with MnDOT on finding a common sense approach to move forward,” Senator Dahms continued. “We have the opportunity to do the right thing in getting folks together to work this out.”

Reductions on health care The Minnesota House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill designed to provide double-digit reductions on health insurance premiums by mitigating the impact of high-risk consumers in the individual market. Dubbed the Minnesota Premium Security Plan, the proposal would establish a state-based reinsurance program.

It will be administered by the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, which for more than 40 years ran a high-risk pool that brought stability to the individual market and ensured the sickest Minnesotans had access to coverage. Projections indicate the move could reduce premiums by approximately 18 percent.

“This already is the second bill we have passed in the House this session to provide health insurance premium relief and to clean up the mess Obamacare and MNSure have caused,” said Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent.

“The latest House proposal would increase access and reduce costs for people who are in the greatest need.”

“Our bill is by no means a silver bullet, but it is one more important step toward gaining stability and restoring Minnesota’s reputation as a national leader in health insurance.”

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