“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
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Legislator Spotlight - Representative Melissa Hortman
Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) represents District 36B, which includes the communities of Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids. She was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2004, and is serving her seventh term. She serves as House DFL Leader, and is on the Rules and Legislative Administration Committee.
1. Tell us about what you do for a living when you’re not serving as a legislator?
I quit my full-time job when I was elected into a leadership role, but I used to work for Hennepin County Attorney’s office focusing my practice in employment law.
2. What about in your spare time? Any hobbies or interests that we would be surprised to know you enjoy?
I may not look it, but I’m a cross country skiing enthusiast, and I love skiing all across the state—but I especially love to ski near the Ely and Lutsen areas.
3. Why is the health technology community important to you?
Minnesota’s health technology community is important to me because it’s a part of the Minnesota fabric. People are always talking about how we can have the next Silicon Valley in Minnesota, and they don’t even realize that we already do, and it’s called the Medical Alley. Minnesota stands out both nationally and globally as a leader in field of cutting-edge research, and the development of new cures and treatments. Plus, we have one of, if not the best healthcare facility in the world located here – Mayo Clinic. There really is an incredible opportunity for the state to continue to succeed in this space.
4. What is it like to have been elected DFL Leader by your caucus? Tell us a little bit about what your responsibilities are.
Well, I would say that my primary job as DFL Leader is to make sure that our caucus presents a clear alternative and a contrast in how our state can govern as opposed to the GOP vision. I’m not against partnering with the GOP when it comes to getting things done for Minnesotans, however, there are things that we as the House DFL will not make concessions on, such as protecting Minnesotans and ensuring a quality education for our children.
5. What are some of your legislative priorities for this session?
I would say that my top priorities are making sure that we have healthy funding our K-12 education system, making higher education more affordable, and working to pass a comprehensive transportation funding package to keep Minnesota moving.
6. Use one word to describe yourself as a Representative.
It took me three tries before I won elected office, and during that time, I didn’t give up. When I worked as an attorney, part of my job involved prosecuting racially discriminatory landlords, and we didn’t always win every day we were in the courtroom – but I never gave up on fighting to protect what was right.
State Legislature Locked in Heated Debate on Topic of Reinsurance
In both the bodies of the State Legislature, heated debate dominated the House and Senate floors this week as a bill moving to establish a state-operated reinsurance program was brought forward.
HF 5, a bill proposed by House Tax Committee Chair Greg Davids (R-Preston) aimed to launch a state-run health insurance program, and would rely on the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MNCHA) to administer the plan.
Republicans argued that that the reinsurance bill was needed to give more control back to individuals within the health plan market, while Democrats countered that reinsurance would limit access to health care due to the high cost of health care plans, and added HF 5 would hand control of Minnesota’s health to insurance companies.
Reinsurance passed in the House on a 78-53 vote, and in the Senate on a 37-29 vote, with members crossing the aisle on both sides to vote for the bill. The Governor has been very vocal about his opposition to this proposal.
MNDEED Releases 2016 Annual Review of Angel Investor Tax Credit Program
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED) has released their 2016 annual report on the Angel Investor Tax Credit program.
- 313 businesses have benefited from AITC since 2010
- 187 businesses were certified to benefit from AITC in 2016
You can access the full report here.
MAA is advocating for continuation of the program at $20M per year as well as a removal of the sunset—to ensure continuity to our business and investor communities. Check out our one pager here.
Bipartisan Effort to Reform Prior Authorization Moves Forward in the Legislature
Earlier this week, lawmakers and advocates from both sides of the aisle held a press conference in support of changes to Prior Authorization (PA). Currently proposed legislation would aim to reform the PA process for drug therapy and treatment access by requiring health plan formularies to provide the same medications to patients for the duration of the calendar year.
Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) described his own experiences and challenges with PA, citing an example of when he was prescribed a drug therapy by his doctor, but could not get his prescription filled by the pharmacist due to changes to his medication plan by his formulary.
PA legislation has bipartisan support in the legislature, and was heard last week in the Senate. SF 593 was authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), and Rep. Hamilton has authored an accompanying bill, HF 747. Rep. Hamilton’s bill has not yet received a hearing date in the House.
You can view a stream of the press conference here.
Minnesota May Lose Congressional Seat in 2020
Minnesota may lose a House seat in the next round of U.S. Congressional apportionment because of population trends in 2020.
"It looks like it's going to be very difficult to hang on to another House seat," said State Demographer Susan Brower. "We have eight right now, and it looks like if nothing changes and we actually count the people we think we have, we could lose a House seat next time around."
Each decade the States’ apportionment of Congressional seats is determined by the U.S. Census. Minnesota’s population has grown steadily since the last census, but it may not be growing fast enough to compete with other states that have seen more rapid population growth, such as California, Florida, and Texas.
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