Special Session Possible; Will MN See a Tax Break by Christmas?

MNSure premium relief, $260M tax cut and public works bill on Dec. 20th Special Session agenda.

St. Paul, MN  Governor Dayton and Minnesota lawmakers are negotiating a legislative special session to take place on Dec. 20, 2016.  The special session would be called to resolve unfinished business leftover from the last session as well as work on relief for Minnesotans dealing with the increased cost of MNSure insurance premiums.

Along with the MnSure relief, the governor and legislators are discussing plans for passing a $260 million tax cut package and the $1 billion public works bill that failed to pass in the last minutes of the session in May.

The $1 billion bonding bill includes a plethora of items ranging from $4.5 million for Red Wing’s River Town Renaissance project, which includes upgrades to infrastructure along the river and the renovation of the 112-year-old Sheldon Theatre, to $3.6 million to fix Lanesboro’s 148 year old dam.  Also included are $25 million for Winona State University’s Education Village project; $11.5 million for “trail development” around the state; $35.5 million to the Metropolitan Council for several projects, including the BRT Orange Line and a Mall of America light rail station, and $12 million to Como Zoo for renovation of the sea lion habitat.

Of the three items on the special session agenda, providing assistance and relief to the Minnesotans suffering from the increased MNSure premiums is the priority.  Both Governor Dayton and the GOP leadership have proposed several solutions to the MNSure crisis.  The Minnnesota House “Session Daily” reported on Dec. 2 that Dayton’s plan includes “a premium rebate program he proposed in late October with a price tag capped at $313 million. He also stressed inclusion of access and continuity of care provisions.”  

As was reported by Alpha News in November, Minnesota GOP leaders’ plan include more than just a “quick fix”: “The Republican plan also includes long-term fixes to stabilize the insurance market by “increasing certainty and affordability for consumers, eliminating unnecessary costs to the state, and restoring market stability.” Proposals to achieve this include requiring the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Health to “draft a transition plan from MNsure to a federal-state partnership exchange,” and by allowing for-profit HMOs to participate in the individual market.”