Peggy Bennett: Health insurance package needs to pass quickly

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

Capitol Comments by Peggy Bennett

The legislative session is in full swing, and there’s lots happening at the Capitol. It’s been a busy first two weeks, but I’m happy to report we’re already making big strides to help Minnesotans throughout the state. On the first day of official business, the House passed a $22 million tax cut and attempted to discuss a proposal to provide premium relief for those buying health insurance on the individual market.

Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett

Our first tax relief proposal, House File 2, passed the House on a 130-0 vote. The legislation conforms Minnesota’s tax code to the federal standard and goes to help students, teachers, homeowners and more. Heading into this session, one of my main goals was to provide some measure of tax relief for hardworking Minnesotans. With a large budget surplus, I’m happy to say that we were able to pass a bill that will provide immediate tax relief for folks around the state. This is just one small step in what I hope to be a larger tax relief package later this session.

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We also attempted to bring forward a bill to give relief to Minnesotans struggling to pay their health insurance premiums. The bill would have provided premium relief, extended access to doctors for continuity of care and begun to reform the individual market. Unfortunately, the bill was blocked on a party-line vote, and we couldn’t pass it. I’m disappointed we were not able to get our health insurance premium relief bill passed, but am encouraged to see it traveling through the committee process.

The Senate passed its version of the bill on Thursday, and we’ll see our bill on the House floor next week. We need to get that passed immediately; it’s tough times for people right now who are experiencing high premiums. I look forward to working on that bill, as well as on longer-term health care solutions this session.

I will continue to work on these important initiatives, as well as others including education reform, creating a common-sense state budget, and supporting our agriculture community. I welcome any input from the community and encourage calls, emails or visits to St. Paul by any resident of District 27A.

Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, is the District 27A representative.