Bill would reduce health insurance ratesPublished 7:00am Sunday, March 16, 2014
Column: Capitol Comments, by Shannon Savick
We’re only three weeks into the 2014 legislative session, and the Minnesota House of Representatives is moving quickly. In the first two weeks alone, we passed $500 million in tax cuts for families and businesses and $20 million in emergency heating assistance. Several important bills that I personally authored are also moving through the House.
The first bill would help address high health insurance costs in our area. As you may know, health insurance premiums in our area of the state are significantly higher than virtually every other area in Minnesota.
My bill would address that in the short term by allowing people to travel up to 75 miles to find less-expensive coverage for their families, more than double the current restriction. It would also look at three long-term solutions such as having providers set flat rates for medical procedures across the state, redrawing the health insurance rate areas and creating a single-rate area for the entire state.
The bill has support from many lawmakers from southeastern Minnesota, and I’m hopeful we can make progress on it this session.
Another set of bills I’m working on would help support our volunteer first responders. Last session, I proposed a $500 tax credit for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians who help protect our rural communities.
This session, I’m amending the bill so that the financial incentive comes in the form of a grant. We’re also working on a bill that would help protect the funds in the Fire Safety Account. For years, funds from this account have been borrowed to solve budget problems in other areas.
My bill would ensure that local firefighters are able to receive all of the training they need to keep our communities safe. Each of these bills is critical for rural areas that depend so heavily on volunteers to respond to our emergencies. Each has bipartisan support, and I’m confident that we can keep them moving in the House.
Lastly, I wanted to remind you about property tax refunds. Last year, our budget included $130 million in new money for direct property tax relief. That means 150,000 more Minnesotans will be eligible for a direct refund this year. The value of those refunds is also going up.
In Freeborn County alone, 1400 homeowners and 310 renters will see their refunds increase. For those not seeing an increase, the refunds are still average well over $500. So even if you didn’t qualify last year, make sure you double check to see if you’re eligible this year by going to www.revenue.state.mn.us.
Once you’re there, click on “property tax refund” on the left side.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, 651-269-8216, or by email, email@example.com.
A shorter session means an even busier schedule, but I’m always happy to listen to any questions or suggestions you might have.
Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, is the state representative for House District 27A.