Editor's note: The following is a newsletter from Lakeville's State House Representative Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville.
Most Popular Constituent Contact Issue This Week – Unionizing Child Care Providers
Many of you have contacted me this week about the idea of forcing small business child care providers to join a statewide union and pay dues. House File 950, chief-authored by Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and supported by AFSCME Council 5, provides a process for unionizing family childcare providers who serve families receiving subsidized child care assistance. This legislation is the latest in a seven-year push by AFSCME and their allies to unionize childcare providers. The most recent attempt occurred when Gov. Dayton attempted to force a union vote in 2011 with an executive order. In April 2012, Ramsey County Judge Dale Lindman ruled that the governor’s directive was an “unconstitutional usurpation of the legislature’s constitutional right to make or amend our laws.”
Child care providers serving our low income families and children would be required to pay union dues or fair share fees, potentially driving up costs or reducing services. When unionized, the state of Minnesota becomes the “employer of record,” putting the state in the middle of a relationship that is primarily between the parent and their provider of choice.
Health Exchange Passed
On Monday, the House passed sweeping legislation that creates the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange, a new government super agency where Minnesotans can purchase or apply for private or government coverage. While this is part of Obamacare’s imposing requirements, many states have opted to not install a state-based exchange because they are expensive to set up and will have unknown future mandates from the federal government about how they run.
My main concerns with the bill (which spends over $100 million just to set up the new agency) are cost, privacy and choice. I am concerned that the bill does nothing to guarantee our health care quality will improve, insurance premiums will be lower, more people will be covered, or that we will see savings in the health system. If the new agency could guarantee these issues were solved, I would be more open to supporting it. While the bill was passed in both the House and Senate, it had bipartisan opposition. It will now go to Conference Committee and will come back to the House for final passage later this month.
Transportation Tax Increases in the Works
A transportation bill which would put $3 billion more funding toward roads and transit projects over the next four years recently was heard in a House committee. Tax increases and new fees would pay for the additional spending. Here are some notable components:
- 9.5 cents per gallon gasoline tax increase
- $10 increase of tab fees, plus .125 percent of the base value of the vehicle
- Expansion of the annual metropolitan wheelage tax to statewide; counties that opt into the wheelage tax may set the amount, rather than the tax being set by statute at $5
- General sales tax extended to include auto repair and auto repair warranty purchases.
- Increase in the current ¼ of 1 percent sales tax for transit in metro area to ¾ of 1 percent.
This bill would increase our $4.6 billion biennial transportation spending by an astounding 33 percent. It also would raise Minnesota’s gas tax to among the nation’s highest at a time Minnesota families and businesses can least afford the added costs. We must provide for the upkeep of our existing transportation system, but the wish list of projects included in this bloated bill stray far from our priorities. This is another example of the new majority looking to grab income from pockets of citizens to feed added government spending. Sadly, this is just one of many areas we expect Democrats to push for tax increases this session.
New Bill Limits Criminal Access to Firearms
I am supporting a bill with more than 70 Republican and Democrat lawmakers that fights crime while protecting the Second Amendment. The bill focuses on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, punishes those who illegally sell firearms to ineligible people, improves reporting of court-determined mental health disqualifications, and provides the state and federal criminal background check systems with complete information on individuals that are ineligible from possessing firearms and the duration of the ineligibility. This important legislation is supported by the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and gun-rights advocates.
Meetings at the Capitol
- Two representatives from Dakota Communities (provide assisted living for individuals with developmental disabilities). We discussed the cost of living increases and need for additional funding for client care and employee salaries - advocating on behalf of a Lakeville group home and their employees
- Three visitors with Thief River Falls Day at the Capitol
- Constituent advocating for the arts - concerned about the impact of sales tax on non-profits and the distribution of Legacy dollars
- Ben Rachel - Director for Allina HomeCare Services and Lakeville resident - concerned about costs and regulations surrounding medical supplies and equipment for patients
- Dakota County Library Delegation
Mary Liz Holberg