Archived Story

Firefighters deserve a tax credit in Minn.

Published 1:51pm Saturday, February 15, 2014

Capitol Comments, by Shannon Savick

In my last column, I outlined some of our top priorities for the session overall including local infrastructure projects, the repeal of several farm and business taxes and increasing our state’s minimum wage. This week I want to focus on three bills that I will be authoring that will address other issues for people in our district.

Shannon Savick
Shannon Savick

First, I will once again be authoring a bill that would give volunteer first responders, firefighters and emergency medical technicians a $500 tax credit.

These are the men and women who protect our communities and put their lives on the line. In larger communities in the metro area, this issue isn’t as critical because they have full time employees who earn a living in these jobs. In areas like ours, cities and counties rely on volunteer firefighters and first responders to handle many emergency situations.

The tax credit for these volunteer first responders is a small price to pay to help compensate those who provide such a critical service for our communities. My bill has bipartisan support and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to move it through the state Legislature this year.

I’ll also be authoring a bill to help address the high price of health care in our area. As you may know, Minnesota’s new health insurance marketplace, MNsure, has been online since October of last year. Since then, nearly 100,000 people have enrolled in new health insurance plans.

In other portions of the state, these plans come at some of the best prices in the country. For us, the prices have still been high due to a lack of competition. That’s why I’m authoring a bill that would allow people in our area to shop for their health insurance plans in other nearby regions. This would provide more flexibility for consumers in our area and lower costs considerably. All that would be required is that you use your plan in the same area you purchased it. I’ll be working with other area legislators to build support for this bill.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on a bill to help middle-income families during their retirement. For many seniors, getting older can mean utilizing costly care in nursing homes or similar facilities. Worse still, current regulations can sometimes punish those who have saved for retirement because having money saved away in a IRA or 401K decreases the medical assistance you get once you’re in need of this type of care.

For couples who might have vastly different health conditions, this can mean using all retirement savings available to care for one individual. This bill would allow a spouse to convert up to $250,000 of an IRA or 401K into an annuity that would pay out over time much the same way pensions do.

Annuities, like pensions, do not count against medical assistance needs. As pensions become less and less common, these kinds of financial problems will only become more prevalent. This bill would allow for some flexibility for seniors dealing with these health concerns.

If you have any ideas or suggestions related to these bills, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, 651-296-8216, or email, rep.shannon.savick@house.mn.

 

Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, is the state representative for House District 27A.