As we wrap up the year and spend time with family and friends, I want to provide you a brief update on what I’m working on at the State Capitol.
Last week, I was honored to be presented a wreath as part of National Wreaths Across America Week. I received the symbolic wreath from members of the Minnesota Civil Air Patrol at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 9, the same time wreaths were presented to state legislative leaders at capitol buildings around the nation. Wreaths Across America works to honor and remember the fallen men and women of our military, in addition to teaching future generations about their sacrifices. The ceremonies around the nation were part of a week leading to the organization’s National Wreaths Across America Day Saturday, Dec. 14. The wreath will now be on display in Forest Lake at various venues through the remainder of the holiday season.
In early December, we received the annual November economic budget forecast from state officials for the next two-year fiscal cycle. Our state has a projected $1 billion surplus going into 2014, but this number could change when we receive our pre-session February update. Rising costs associated with Obamacare and unpredictable economic activity could change how much the state has to work with.
It is worth noting that the billions in tax increases passed last spring by Gov. Dayton and my Democrat colleagues were unnecessary. They were used to greatly expand state spending instead of simply balancing the budget — all at a time when hardworking families and businesses are trying to keep up. This new surplus should be used to help abolish damaging business-to-business tax increases.
Many of you have contacted me about MNsure, the state’s new agency for implementing Obamacare in Minnesota. MNsure has faced serious problems since it opened Oct. 1, including technical glitches, security breaches, long wait times for customer service and delayed processing for enrolled applicants. This week, we are closing in on the Dec. 23 deadline to enroll in health coverage beginning Jan. 1, but many who have enrolled haven’t received confirmation of their new plans. Families and businesses need their new insurance cards and aren’t receiving them in a timely manner. This is especially crucial because thousands of individuals have lost their health coverage due to Obamacare rules, so they need to enroll in new plans through MNsure.
I am doing everything in my power to demand answers from MNsure and Gov. Dayton about the delays and errors coming out of this agency and to ensure people in our district have some form of coverage on Jan. 1.
Unfortunately, the Legislative Oversight Committee established to oversee the activities of MNsure has little authority and has not held a meeting in over three months. Unlike other state agencies, their new CEO was not named by the governor or approved by the legislature, but by the MNsure Board.
This was one of the worst decisions state leaders could have made, as millions in taxpayer dollars are funding MNsure and they should absolutely be accountable to the people through their elected representatives.
I am also calling for background checks on all navigators associated with MNsure who have open access to private consumer information. Gov. Dayton hopes to wash his hands of Obamacare after making it his signature policy accomplishment, and I would ask him to jump in and help our Minnesotans hurt by this health law.
Finally, I want to wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year from my family to yours. If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me.
Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, represents House District 39A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. District 39A includes part of Stillwater, as well as several communities to the north up to Shafer.