Updates

May 5, 2017

Dear neighbors,

There’s a lot going on at the Capitol. As I mentioned in my last update the major budget bills are in conference committee. Now we’ve seen the House and Senate leadership release their joint budget targets and it’s not good for Rochester.

Higher Education

The joint numbers released this week are not good for Rochester Community and Technical College. Instead of working with the Governor to stop tuition increases, the legislative majorities are proposing nearly $200 million less for higher education than what Governor Dayton had sought and hundreds of millions less than Minnesota State and the U of MN requested. RCTC will be cut $2,118,000 from their requested budget. That’s not just going to result in tuition increases and program cuts; it’s going to mean layoffs. I’m astonished that in a time of surplus we would underfund higher education, which we all know is how we compete in a global economy.

Infrastructure and Jobs

In last week’s update I mentioned the immense need for a “bonding” infrastructure and jobs bill and the fact that one hadn’t been put forward yet. With less than three weeks left in the legislative session the House Republicans finally released their bonding proposal. It’s clear they’re using it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Governor due to its small size and lack of projects.

This bill should fund projects all across Minnesota, including those in Rochester. Unfortunately, it fails to fund vital infrastructure projects in our area, including at RCTC. We all know the Plaza and Memorial Halls at RCTC continue to deteriorate as snow, rain and the elements penetrate the exterior. We can’t stand by and watch our vital public infrastructure disintegrate while this bill is held hostage.

You can see my remarks about the strategic need for many projects in our area below:

Sustainable Transportation and Transit

Yesterday I joined my DFL colleagues in a press conference to discuss the need for a comprehensive transportation bill that doesn’t underfund transit. All of us living and working in Rochester know how important transit is for people to get to school, work, the library and especially their health care providers. My own mother no longer drives and is dependent on transit to access many things. There’s a narrative at the legislature that it’s the metro vs the rest of the state. I don’t buy that. I believe in the old adage that “we all do better when we all do better.” You can see my remarks about that in the video below:

 

Budgeting is values based

Budgeting and how you go about it is about values. There’s a balance between how much you spend to cut taxes and for whom vs. how much you invest in education, public infrastructure or programs that support job creation. While a lot of this is driven by partisan politics and coming to the center from the extremes, I don’t think it has to be that partisan, nor should it hold the things we care about hostage to extract political concessions. I’ll continue to push for fair and bipartisan end to the session, but it’s important you weigh in too. Call the legislative leaders and tell them you want us to fund pre-k, college education, and vital infrastructure projects:

Governor Dayton
House Speaker Kurt Daudt: 651-296-5364
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka: 651-296-4875
And our State Senator David Senjem 651-296-3903

As always, it’s an honor to be your voice at the State Capitol. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have.

Sincerely,

Duane

P.S. Please don’t hesitate to forward this email to your friends and neighbors so they can sign up for my e-updates. Let them know I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

 


April 12, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

As a learning participant in the legislative process, I am struck by how a recent article from MinnPost reflects key realities of the current session in St. Paul. I’m sharing key excerpts below, and I’d add that the significance of the article is that it is almost completely replicated in each of the major policy areas, not just environmental which is the topic of this particular article.

Their report would easily be perfectly duplicated if you substituted lobbyists, committees and committee members for each of these significant topic areas: Transportation, Public Education (Pre K to University), Public Health, Health Care and Insurance, Support for Local Governments of every size.

There is simply a lack of moderation, communication and negotiation. This unfortunate reality will push us like every past historic cycle of “Tax Relief and Budget Cuts” to be followed by significant increases in local government taxes and huge cuts in staff and services. You’ve heard this phrase, right? If you ignore history, you are destined to relive it. That’s where we’re at, but I want you to know I am doing everything I can to build bridges and consensus for moving discussion. We’d all benefit from more moderation. Unrestrained control of power by any side is not moderation and blocks our best efforts for making our state as good as it can be.

Sincerely,

Duane


 

April 7, 2017

It took tired members about three hours to wrap up their week of lengthy floor debates by approving the omnibus health and human services bill Friday afternoon after being in the House Chamber until just after midnight the previous night.

With all omnibus bills now having received House approval, it’s time for a break.

With Passover and Easter occurring in the next week, no legislative activity will take place until Tuesday, April 18. House offices will be closed April 14. When members return, they will have just under five weeks to finish their work developing a biennial budget — and maybe a bonding bill — that can be signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Before looking ahead to future meetings; let’s take a look at what you may have missed this week.

Check out the latest gallery from House Photography and stay up-to-date on House news and updates throughout the week at Session Daily.

AGRICULTURE
From home cooks to fences and feedlots, omnibus ag policy bill passes House

House unanimously passes omnibus agriculture finance bill

BUDGET
Dayton demands fiscal integrity from lawmakers
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12773

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE
Dayton will allow reinsurance bill to become law
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12760

Minnesota Index: Child care in Minnesota
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12761

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
House gives its blessing to omnibus jobs and energy bill
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12771

EDUCATION
Student data on school laptops would get privacy protections
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12770

High school league rules on transfer student eligibility clarified
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12764

House passes overhaul of teacher licensure system
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12762

Starting Line: protecting press rights of student journalists
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12759

ENVIRONMENT
House passes more than $500 million in Legacy appropriations
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12765

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
House passes omnibus health bill that would scrap MNsure
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12774

State reporting on abortions could expand to track telemedicine use
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12769

HIGHER EDUCATION
House passes ‘affordable, accountable’ omnibus higher education bill
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12766

PUBLIC SAFETY
Omnibus public safety bill gets House OK; returns to Senate
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12763

STATE GOVERNMENT
House OKs omnibus state government finance bill that reduces spending
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=12772

 


March 31, 2017

Neighbors and Friends,

Our third committee deadline is today and there’s been a flurry of activity in committees and on the House floor this week. Many visitors from the Rochester area have also been stopping in to discuss various issues. Here’s an update from my week at the Capitol:

House Omnibus Bills

The House took up the Omnibus Tax and Environment bills yesterday and we’ll be taking up the Omnibus Education and Transportation bills today. These bills fund specific issue areas of our state’s budget.

Tax Bill

Yesterday, the House took up the Omnibus Tax bill. Unfortunately, House Republicans are prioritizing big tax cuts for businesses and the rich instead of most Minnesotans. Benefiting millionaires, the tax bill includes a $161.7 million estate tax cut for the wealthiest Minnesotans. The bill also includes property tax cuts for corporations and businesses instead of homeowners and renters.

Instead of this approach, my view is we should put Minnesotans first with targeted tax cuts that make taxes fairer for everyone in order to improve economic opportunities in Rochester and every corner of the state.

Environment Bill

Despite a budget surplus, The Omnibus Environment bill cuts millions from funding that protects Minnesota’s air, water and outdoor spaces. Minnesota is lucky to have abundant natural resources, but we can’t take them for granted. Instead, we should be investing to maintain our environmental resources for the next generation of Minnesotans.

Transportation Bill

Today, the House is expected to take up the Omnibus Transportation bill. The proposal fails to invest in Minnesota’s transportation needs now and into the future, inadequately addressing the need for long-term investment in roads and bridges. It also creates road blocks to fully funding light rail and bus lines. The bill pits the Metro against Greater Minnesota, failing to take a “One Minnesota” approach to invest in transportation statewide. Neglecting Minnesota’s transportation needs is unsafe and will cost Minnesotans more money in the long run. That’s why I’m advocating for a long-term, sustainable solution that improves Minnesota’s roads, bridges and transit.

Education Bill

The Omnibus Education bill is also expected on the Floor today. The education bill would underfund our schools likely amounting to cuts that could result in teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and fewer resources for our kids. The bill also eliminates the voluntary pre-K program and phases out its funding, hurting Minnesota’s youngest learners.

I believe our top priority should be providing a quality education for all Minnesota kids, but unfortunately, this bill will make it harder for them to succeed. Education has made Minnesota a leader, but we won’t continue to lead with cuts to our kids’ futures.

Land-Grant Legacy Scholarships

Legislators received a letter from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announcing the Land-Grant Legacy Scholarship, a new initiative to attract and retain more students from Greater Minnesota. It’s funded through private donations.

According to the U of MN, the new effort will launch beginning in fall 2017 with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) on the Twin Cities campus. Over the next four years, the scholarship will provide students $5,000 each year for four years. When fully implemented, the effort will support 100 students annually.

If you would like more information on the scholarship, please see the full release.

 

Contact me with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Duane

 


March 24, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

The first two committee deadlines flew by at the legislature and we will be even busier as we approach the final committee deadline next Friday. You can see a video about committee deadlines here.

Below are some recent updates on what’s been happening at the Capitol.

Capitol Essay Contest

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the State Capitol Grand Opening Planning Committee have announced a statewide essay contest celebrating the historic Minnesota State Capitol. Essay contest winners will be invited to share their essays as part of the State Capitol Grand Opening festivities in August. Minnesota students in grades K-12 are encouraged to submit essays explaining how the State Capitol has shaped our collective past and will impact future generations. If you would like more information for students to enter an essay in the contest, you can follow the link here for contest info.

House Budget Targets

House Republicans announced their budget targets this week; the final piece needed for committees to craft a budget for the next two years. A budget is a reflection of our values and it should focus on giving Minnesotans the opportunity they deserve to get ahead in our economy. That includes ensuring that we’re prepared for any downturns and uncertainty at the federal level. Unfortunately, the Republican budget cuts nearly $600 million from health and human services, nearly $100 million from state government and veterans, and dramatically underfunds education, all to provide more than a billion dollars in tax giveaway, including huge cuts for corporations and nothing to lower individual rates.

We’re still waiting for the budget details to get worked out, but I’ll keep advocating for a responsible budget that invests in the areas that have made Minnesota’s economy strong, like education, job training, college affordability, and infrastructure projects that will create good paying jobs.

House Transportation Plan

After releasing their budget targets Monday, we got more details on the House transportation plan on Tuesday. As you know, partisan posturing stopped a long-term transportation plan from happening in the last biennium. We have a projected funding shortfall of nearly a billion dollars a year over the next twenty years just to maintain our current infrastructure. Republicans proposed slashing transit funding and redirecting current revenue from the general fund to a special transportation fund. What this ignores is that if we ever have a funding shortfall, we’ll have to choose between cutting education, health care, or transportation.

There’s a good article in the Star Tribune summing up why this proposal is a nonstarter. It’s unfortunate that when more than half the state’s roads are more than 50 years old, and more than 40 percent of the state’s bridges are more than 40 years old Republicans’ first proposal starts with partisan posturing from extremes rather than trying to bring something forth that can win broad bipartisan approval.

Reinsurance

Last Monday, the House passed a Republican plan to subsidize insurance companies in the hope that they will reduce premiums for people who buy their own insurance.

House Democrats have proposed two other options to provide health care coverage to a greater number of Minnesotans at a lower cost. One (HF 92) would be a public option to ‘buy-in’ to MinnesotaCare at no cost to taxpayers. The other (HF 358) is the Minnesota Health Plan which would be a universal, single payer plan. With the uncertainty at the federal level, this is the perfect opportunity for Minnesota tackle this issue.

Let me know what you think!

Please feel free to weigh in on by answering my 2017 Legislative Survey.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions.

Capitol Visitors

This past week I’ve had several visitors.

House Image

I appreciated a visit and message from pediatricians from Mayo. They shared heartfelt stories of the lives and struggles of youth and adolescents. They see kids in crisis who would benefit from school counselors, kids who may need to be admitted when there are not beds available. Kids who have critical disease because of misinformation or lack of money for vaccination.

House Image

I also had Rochester members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) visit. Mental health treatment and stigma are serious issues in our society. It’s great we have people advocating all around the state to end the stigma and increase treatment.

 

Sincerely,

Duane

 

P.S.: Please don’t hesitate to forward this email to your friends and neighbors so they can sign up for my e-updates.

 


March 16, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

The legislative session is now more than half over. The first committee deadline passed last Friday and we’ll be busy in committee as the final two deadlines approach the next two Fridays. Then we’ll shift to longer floor sessions to pass our two year state budget.

Committee Deadlines

Last week we wrapped up the first committee deadline, and we’re already into our second deadline week. Deadlines are very important to the legislative process, but deadline weeks can look like a flurry of legislative activity to those outside the Capitol. To help folks better understand the process, our great nonpartisan House Public Information department put together a video explaining the process. You can watch here:

House Image

Reinsurance

Earlier this year I voted to provide premium relief in the form a 25% premium reduction for Minnesotans who purchase insurance in the individual market but who don’t qualify for federal tax subsidies. That proposal was put in place to offer a quick response to rising insurance costs.

On Monday, the Minnesota House voted for a reinsurance program which I supported. HF 5 creates a program to subsidize insurance companies against large claims. The program would be funded by the Health Care Access Fund, which currently funds MinnesotaCare. While the plan isn’t perfect, I supported it. Our work on reinsurance will continue because the Senate and the House versions of the bill are quite different, therefore we will be heading to conference committee. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to find a solutions that bring the health back into health care for Minnesotans.

Fun Facts: Highway Finance

Have you ever wanted to know about transportation funding? The nonpartisan House Research Department puts out great explanations of topics the legislature covers. In this updated I want to share one on Highway Finance. It’s truly an interesting topic with the different, and sometimes constitutionally dedicated, funding sources we have for transportation. Who knows, if you commit this to memory perhaps you can use the details to thrill your guests at your next dinner party.

Redistricting Panel

Last Saturday I participated in a bipartisan discussion on redistricting. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Rochester Public Libraries and others. You can read a release I sent to the press on that here.

Constituent Visits

It’s always a pleasure to have constituents visiting me at the Capitol. Over the past two weeks I’ve had constituents lobby me on a lot of issues. Below is a group from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Jont Religious Legislative Coalition, and Darci Barker who was advocating on behalf of those who serve persons with disabilities.

House Image

House Image

House Image

Let me know what you think!

Please feel free to weigh in on by answering my 2017 Legislative Survey.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions.

 

Sincerely,

Duane

 

P.S.: Please don’t hesitate to forward this email to your friends and neighbors so they can sign up for my e-updates.

 


March 1, 2017

Neighbors and Friends,

We are nine weeks into the legislative session and between floor sessions and committees, we’re able to meet with constituents and those advocating for issues or groups. I hope you can make your way to the Capitol this session and sit in on a committee hearing or tour the beautifully restored Capitol building.

Here is an update from St. Paul:

Budget Forecast

Today, Minnesota Management and Budget announced a forecasted budget surplus of $1.65 billion. The February Economic Forecast revealed that Minnesota continues to have low unemployment and a stable budget.

While Minnesota’s economy is performing well, we should always be looking for ways to improve. This surplus is an opportunity to reinvest in every Minnesotan in all corners of the state – through strong public schools, affordable college and job training, and access to good jobs and good benefits like paid leave and earned sick time.

For too long we have neglected our roads, bridges, and transit system. It has been three years since the legislature passed a robust bonding bill to invest in our infrastructure. It is time to push politics aside and put the needs of Minnesotans first.

To stay competitive, it’s vital we reinvest in our priorities. I’m ready to continue working with Governor Dayton and my legislative colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to build a shared vision of economic prosperity for all Minnesotans.

Preemption in Committee

The Republican “preemption” bill has passed its final committee and will be debated by the full House this week.  This bill stops local communities from setting pro-worker policies such as sick leave, family leave, or a higher minimum wage. The measure also rolls back sick time for hundreds of thousands Twin Cities working people. This divisive, anti-worker legislation has popped up in legislatures all over the United States. Minnesotans have a strong work ethic and an even stronger sense of what is right and wrong.  It’s not difficult to understand that rolling back benefits and stopping workers from getting ahead is not good for the economy and I will strongly oppose this bill.

Missing Money?

That headline may have caught your attention! The State of Minnesota may have some property that belongs to you or a loved one and the State wants to give it back to you. Every day, Minnesotans lose some form of financial property because of a change of address, death, or simply forgetting about an account.

Holders of unclaimed property, usually banks, insurance companies, corporations, etc. are required by law to attempt to contact the owner of the property when it appears that the owner has abandoned the item. This prevents companies from profiting from accounts that remain unclaimed. If the owner fails to respond, Minnesota keeps it safe for them until the rightful owner is found.

Minnesota currently holds millions in unclaimed property.  To check if your’re on the list, click the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s missing money page.

Let me know what you think!

Please feel free to weigh in on by answering my 2017 Legislative Survey.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions.

 

Sincerely,

Duane

 


February 22, 2017

Neighbors and Friends,

It’s been a busy week at the Capitol. We worked right through Presidents ’ Day and are now poised to have two long nights ahead of us. Committees are also picking up pace with night hearings because our first committee deadline nears early next month. Here are a few of the issues before us:

Sunday Sales

On Monday, the House of Representatives voted to approve Sunday liquor sales. The measure must also pass the Senate, and if it does, Governor Dayton said he would sign the bill into law. Recent grassroots support from Minnesotans has led the way for Sunday sales after a 159 year ban. The House voted 85 to 45 to pass the measure, with limited hours of operation on Sundays.

Bills Tomorrow

We’ll be hearing three bills tomorrow night. HF 3 would bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal Real Id requirements, allowing Minnesotans to board airplanes and enter federal and military facilities. Unfortunately, the bill under consideration has a provision in it that specifically targets immigrants. HF 400 would prohibit Minnesota from contracting with any businesses that are part of the BDS movement (boycott, divest, sanction Israel.) While I stand with Israel, this bill does raise serious constitutional questions about whether or not the state can forbid contracting with those who wish to pressure Israel from continuing to support settlements in Palestine. Middle East peace is obviously a thorny issue and this bill is getting a lot of heat from all sides. We’ll also be hearing HF 434 which would provide much needed funds for BWSR to acquire wetland banking credits to replace wetlands that are drained or filled as a result of local road projects.

Minnesota Care Buy-In

Twenty-five years ago, MinnesotaCare was created by a bipartisan coalition of legislators and signed into law by a Republican governor. The program has allowed 100,000 Minnesotans to purchase high-quality, lower cost health care coverage. Governor Dayton is proposing to expand the program by giving those who purchase their insurance on the individual insurance market the opportunity to ‘buy-into’ MinnesotaCare. Participants in the program would pay their own way.

In addition, MinnesotaCare includes a broad network of care providers and physicians all across the state which would enable families the option of choosing and keeping their own doctors.

For more information on the governor’s proposal, click here.

As we work to increase access to affordable healthcare, this plan is one avenue to provide affordable health care options to thousands of Minnesotans.

Regents Selection

A joint convention of the House and Senate will meet on Wednesday night to elect Regents to govern the University of Minnesota. This year, four Regents will be elected, one each from the 2nd, 3rd and 8thCongressional Districts and one at-large to serve six-year terms. The Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC) interviewed 17 candidates. Twelve candidates were forwarded to the Joint Legislative Committee.

Despite the bipartisan, deliberative selection process, Steve Sviggum was put into nomination by multiple GOP members without going through the selection process. I believe our job in choosing candidates to serve on the board should be based on the candidates’ merits, not their political connections.

Meeting with Somali Constituents

I’ll be having my second meeting with Somali constituents this Saturday. It’s my goal to ensure that the next generation of immigrants and refugees can participate in our system and take advantage of the political process. The first meeting was extremely productive and I hope to continue to make sure everyone in our community can be a vital part of it.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Duane Sauke

 


February 7, 2017

Neighbors and Friends,

Each week at the Capitol, dozens of issues receive our attention – either in committee or through action on the House floor. We are a few weeks into the legislative session, and the days are filled with diverse legislative ideas and proposals. Read below for an update on some of the issues we’re considering:

Southeast Minnesota Education’s Legislative Forum

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending The Legislative Forum of Southeastern Minnesota Legislators.

House Image

Preemption in Committee

Late last week, the House Jobs Committee heard a Republican “preemption” bill that would stop local communities from setting their own policies for workers. This bill would prevent communities from implementing pro-worker policies such as sick leave, family leave, or a higher minimum wage. This legislation will even roll back sick time for hundreds of thousands of people working in the Twin Cities. This is exactly the type of divisive, anti-worker legislation we’ve seen around the country. Minnesotans know they deserve a fair shake and this isn’t it. I came to the Capitol to help people get ahead, not to make it even harder for them to get by, and that’s why I’m opposing this bill.

The bill is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, February 8th at 10:15 a.m. in the Government Operations Committee. I encourage you to watch the committee or contact the bill author  to voice your opinions.

Bonding Presented to Capital Investment

The Governor’s bonding proposal was presented to the Capital Investment Committee. Since the legislature failed to pass a capital investment bill the past two years, it’s essential for us to pass one this year. Rochester will benefit greatly, with the Governor wanting to fund our dyslexia center, the airport, and the Rochester Community and Technical College.

Governor Dayton’s Cybersecurity

On an almost daily basis, we’re hearing reports of security breaches into companies, governments, and into the lives of individuals, resulting in private information being revealed. Security experts have said state government is subjected to millions of cyberattacks every day in attempts to illegally access secure information. Governor Dayton recently unveiled his cyber security priorities by investing $125 million to reform and update our information technology infrastructure.

The governor’s proposal will build strong cybersecurity defenses by updating systems to safeguard Minnesotans’ private data. The proposal also makes investments required to convert or upgrade digital infrastructure to ensure state government operates efficiently and is up to speed with the needs of today and tomorrow.

I’m supporting Governor Dayton’s proposals to bring the State of Minnesota into the digital age. We should use all methods available to protect our citizens and institutions against illegal access by those who want to disrupt our state government.

To read more about the governor’s proposal, go here.

Sexual Assault Advocates

The full extent of sexual assault on college campuses is not known, but because of some high visibility cases in the news, the issue is getting more attention. What is known, is that victims of sexual assault are often too afraid or traumatized to come forward or do not know exactly what to do after a crime occurs.

I would like to make you aware of training opportunities available for anyone who would like to become certified as an advocate to provide services to victims or survivors of sexual violence. Training is also offered to volunteers interested in providing peer counseling, assisting with support groups, teaching about sexual violence in schools and legal advocacies.

To learn more, click on the following links:

https://www.sexualviolencecenter.org/get-involved/become-an-advocate/

http://www.mncasa.org/40-hour-trainings

https://www.360communities.org/event/domestic-and-sexual-violence-advocacy-training/

Second Saturday Coffee

I will continue to host monthly coffee meetings on the second Saturday of the Month at 8:30 a.m. at Dunn Bros Coffee North. I hope you’ll be able to join me this Saturday, the 11th of February for our monthly meetings.

I am also open and willing to attend other Saturday gatherings to host discussions, listen, and share thoughts. Contact me to set at time and date if you’re interested.

Please contact me with any concerns or questions during this legislative session.

Sincerely,

Rep. Duane Sauke

 


February 1, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

The first month of session is in the history books! We got right to work and passed important legislation to help Minnesotans, such as federal tax conformity that will save you money on your taxes and premium relief for the individuals, families and small businesses who purchase their insurance on the individual market. While we generally had a bipartisan agreement on the need to pass those bills right away, there’s been a lot of partisan posturing that we’re sure to see in the coming months. With that said, I’m committed to crafting a two year budget that ensures Minnesotans are given the opportunity they deserve to get ahead, and not to focus on the policies that divide us.

Here are a few news items from this week:

Premium Relief

As a result of the premium relief bill signed into law last week, MNsure has announced an additional week special enrollment period. The extra week will give Minnesotans more time to purchase health insurance during open enrollment. The premium relief legislation will provide a 25% instant rebate to those purchasing health insurance on the individual market who don’t already qualify for MNSure tax credits.

The new deadline is Wednesday, February 8th. For more information, go to the MNsure web page.

Anti-Protester Bill

On Tuesday, the House Civil Law Committee passed a bill that would make the public responsible for any costs while participating in protests or rallies. The bill would allow units of government to re-claim public safety costs by suing protestors convicted under unlawful assembly or public nuisance laws. This legislation sets a dangerous precedent for Minnesotans wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights. Our constitution is in place to protect our rights and allow people to express their opinions in a peaceful way. I am concerned about the safety of law enforcement (and support providing appropriate force and resources for enforcement) and will never condone property damage as part of protected demonstrations. There is a tradition of tools for law enforcement to use and I support the use of those tools, before, during, and after a demonstration. 

The bill’s next stop is the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

Preemption in Committee Thursday

On Thursday the House Jobs Committee will be hearing a “preemption” bill that would stop local communities from setting their own policies for workers. This Republican bill would stop communities from implementing pro-worker policies such as sick leave, family leave, or a higher minimum wage. This legislation will even roll back sick time for hundreds of thousands of people working in the Twin Cities. This is exactly the type of divisive, anti-worker legislation we’ve seen around the country. Minnesotans know they deserve a fair shake and this isn’t it. I came to the Capitol to help people get ahead, not to make it even harder for them to get by, and that’s why I’m opposing this bill. The most troubling element is the continuing efforts to overreach with legislation this year.

On Thursday you can watch the 5:00 p.m. committee meeting here. 

Forward this to your Friends and Neighbors

Don’t forget to forward this update to your friends and neighbors so they can keep up with what’s going on at the Capitol. There’s a lot going on here and if people don’t know about it, they won’t be able to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. People can sign-up for my weekly e-updates here.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have.

Sincerely, 

Rep. Duane Sauke

 


January 24, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

We’re now in the fourth week of the legislative session and things are really starting to pick up. Here’s a brief update on what’s been going on so far:

State of the State and Budget

Last night, Governor Dayton delivered his seventh State of the State to a joint legislative session of the House and Senate. The headline grabbing news was that he collapsed just before he was going to finish his speech. Thankfully, he’s OK and doing well. In the speech and the two year state budget he released today, he outlined a broad vision for improving the lives of ordinary Minnesotan. Much of that commitment to the future related to education, job growth, more affordable choices in health care, and a long-term transportation plan.

When it comes to education, he focused on delivering in all levels of our education system, from early childhood all the way through college and career training. The Governor proposed voluntary pre-kindergarten for all of Minnesota’s children, a 2% increase in education funding this year and the next, and to plan to hold down college debt so we keep our graduates among the best in the nation in workforce readiness. I’m committed to making sure we help the next generation succeed just as the Governor has outlined.

Minnesotans deserve a long-term solution to the $6 billion funding shortfall we have in our transportation budget and the Governor asked for a bipartisan solution to that. Just before he collapsed, he was going to call for new reforms to make insurance more affordable. Among those reforms was a public option to increase competition and drive down health insurance costs.

Governor Dayton’s vision is one of continued positive growth and an effective government delivering the solutions Minnesotan deserve. I continue to wish him good health and look forward to working with him so everyone in our community has the opportunity to get ahead. You can read his full remarks here and his full budget release here

Premium Relief

As you know, 120,000 Minnesotans who buy their health insurance on the individual market are facing premium increases of up to 60%. Everyone at the legislature recognizes this is a crisis, but we’re seeing politics creep in to the detriment of those struggling to afford their insurance. Governor Dayton and I support an immediate rebate of 25% of their premium costs. Unfortunately, Republicans voted for a bill that delays relief until 2018 because of government red tape and even allows insurance companies to sell policies that don’t cover things like cancer, emergency services, Lyme’s disease and nearly 100 other conditions or services.

I would currently share that there appears to be progress toward a successful conference committee and I hope there will be positive results.

Second Saturday Coffee

I will continue to host monthly coffee meetings on the second Saturday of the Month at 8:30 at Dunn Bros Coffee North. I am also open and willing to attend other Saturday gatherings to host discussions, listen, and share thoughts. Contact me to set at time and date if you’re interested.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues or concern you may have.

Sincerely,

Rep. Duane Sauke

 


January 12, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Last week I was sworn in as your State Representative. It’s an incredible privilege and honor to act as your voice at the Capitol. Here are a few items I wanted to update you on:

First Weeks Activities

It’s been a busy first couple weeks at the Capitol. The schedule of floor sessions, committee meetings, meeting with constituents and other groups started right away. While we haven’t had too many late nights yet, I’m anticipating that I’ll be spending a lot of time working on behalf of our community. I was appointed to serve on three powerful committees: Agriculture Policy, Capital Investment, and Transportation Finance. Sitting on those committees puts me in a great position to deliver for you and Rochester.

Health Insurance Premium Relief

One of the issues that everyone agrees we need to address is relief for 120,000 Minnesotans who buy their health insurance on the individual market. Their facing pretty staggering increases. Governor Dayton and my DFL colleagues are supporting a simple 25% rebate for those people, without any red tape or major policy changes. Unfortunately the Republicans who control the House and Senate are insisting on some pretty drastic changes, such as allowing for-profit insurers to enter Minnesota. They also want to add several state government hoops people will need to jump through to get their rebates. People have until January 31st to buy their insurance, so I think it’s pretty important we just pass a bill to help them out.  

Visit the Newly Restored Capitol

The Capitol is a pretty amazing building. It was designed by Cass Gilbert, who designed the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. It’s been restored and is really a fantastic sight to see. I encourage you and your family to come visit me and see this amazing building.

Free 45-minute tours are available daily and start on the hour. They leave from the Information Center in Room 126. If you have a larger group, you can schedule a tour by emailing grouptickets@mnhs.org or calling 651-259-3003. For K-12 Field Trips, visit mnhs.org/fieldtriprequest or call 1-800-387-5008.

Finally, I want to make sure you know you can contact me about any issues that are important to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to schedule an appointment or share your concerns via phone or e-mail.

Sincerely,

Duane