Health Care, Trains, and Electric Cars? This Week in the Legislature

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota State Legislature

The Minnesota Legislature has its hands full Monday and Tuesday with a range of topics from health care to transit. Here are six issues that could get quite a bit of attention:

The Affordable Care Act is back in political conversation this week as the Health Care Insurance Premium Credit is headed back to the Committee on Taxes on Monday morning in the Senate.  Currently, the Affordable Care Act gives tax credits to eligible individuals who purchase through a state or government exchange. The amended bill plans to introduce extra tax relief for those who cannot receive government-sponsored insurance, have insurance through MNSure, those who have income in excess of 400% of the poverty line, or those who have insurance through their employer, as long as their premiums are above 9.56% of the yearly household income. The hearing for this bill, sponsored by Senator Schmit (D-21) will be in Senate Building room 1100 at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 11th, 2016.

The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration is discussing a bill in regards to creating an advisory group to implement a privately financed passenger high-speed rail line. City-Council-Members-Feel-Powerless-to-Met-Council-AgendaThis bill will allow for the creation of a team of individuals to aid in the creation of a high-speed train that will allow commuters to travel from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Rochester, MN. Should this bill pass, it will allow for per diem or a daily allowance to non-government board members, it will also allow for fundraising to pay for any expenses of the working group. The hearing for this bill, sponsored by Sen. Schmit (D-21) in room 2308 of the Senate Building on Tuesday, April 12th at 11:00 a.m.

Lawmakers are paying close attention to a bill that will affect campaigning.  With every lawmaker up for re-election in 2016, campaign laws are being particularly scrutinized.  Lawmakers are seeking to repeal the False Political and Campaign Material Law this week in the Committee on Rules and Administration.  While this may seem like a moral law that should remain, it is actually in response to an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2014 called 281 Care Committee v. Arneson, 776 F.3d 772 (8th Cir. 2014). The Court of Appeals ruled against and subsequently struck down the Minnesota State law that made it illegal for paid political ads or campaign materials to knowingly promote false or reckless statements for or against questions on a ballot. Since the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Minnesota law because it violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, lawmakers will now have to remove the law from the books in order to comply with the Court’s decision. The hearing for this bill, sponsored by Senator Cohen (D-64) in Senate Building room 2308 on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

Many remember the Cash for Clunkers initiative by the Federal Government in 2009 to get individuals to drive more fuel efficient vehicles.  The Senate Environment and Energy Budget Division plans on reviving that program in Minnesota. However, the initiative only applies to electric vehicles.  The Electric Vehicle Promotion Program will promote the use of electric vehicles by making the city more “electric friendly.” This includes the placement of charging stations in both public and private parking spaces and rebates for those who buy a new battery electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid. The hearing for this bill will be led in room 1200 of the Senate Building on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 12:00p and is sponsored by Senator Marty (D-66).

Keep your eye on the buffer bill (S.F. 2503) that will go through the Senate this week. As Alpha News discussed last year, Governor Dayton wants to create a 50-foot buffer zone around Minnesota waters. The newly amended bill, sponsored by Sen. Skoe (D-2) would create a structure for new penalties up to $10,000 for any violations and would implement a system for local counties or watershed districts to create a plan to use that money. The amended bill also adds a new section that titled Riparian Protection; Supplemental Aid, which creates an outline that describes how counties can receive financial aid from the State to carry out “riparian protection and water quality practices.” The hearing for this bill will be led in room 1100 of the Senate Building on Monday, April 11th, 2016 at 9:00a.

Also, Representative Dettmer (R-39A) plans to introduce a bill into the House Veterans Affairs Division, asking that military personnel outside the state, be granted the opportunity to get extensions to carry their handgun.

In the upcoming weeks, we will see these bills and many others unfold as they make their way through the Legislature. Subscribe to Alpha News as we continue to track legislation in Minnesota.

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.