The House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee on Tuesday approved Rep. Ron Kresha’s bill that proposes three adjustments to the Health Insurance Transparency Act (HITA) that passed in 2014. Kresha reminded the committee his bill (HF 3129) is not an attempt to repeal or undermine the purpose of HITA, but rather to make the requirements more manageable for all school districts both large and small.
The proposed changes would:
- Remove the requirement that school districts get an insurance bid from the state’s Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP).
- Allow school boards to have health care contracts up to five years and service cooperatives up to four years in length. A school district may go out for a bid at any time during this period.
- Provide that school districts participating in the proposal process are not “eligible employers” for the purposes of PIEP.
MSBA Response: School boards have now had the opportunity to live with these changes for two years and now are in a position to suggest changes to the HITA process. These changes would provide more transparency and efficiency in the management of the heath care system for our teachers.
- Bill summary: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/89/HF3129.pdf
Rep. Marquart seeks property tax relief for farmers
The topic of agriculture property taxes continued today in the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division Committee.
Rep. Paul Marquart presented another option to help provide property tax relief to farmers. His bill (HF 2987) is similar to the provision already in tax conference committee, which was passed last year. The difference is this bill would provide property tax relief right on the property tax statement as opposed to an income tax credit. Both provisions would provide a 50 percent tax credit. There was talk of changing the conference committee language to reflect a property tax credit rather than the income tax credit.
Marquart described the current system as divisive in the community when farmers find themselves needing to oppose school district capital projects when they sincerely want to be supportive of their schools.
MSBA Response: The state needs to provide property tax relief for farmers. Rising property values causes farmer to choose between schools and overly burdened agriculture property taxes. Providing property tax relief through the property tax system is a better fit. Hopefully, the tax conference committee will revert to a property tax credit as reflected in Rep. Marquart’s bill.
- Bill summary: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/89/HF2987.pdf
Visit http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=10023 for a related story.
Bill would increase fine for passing school buses with stop arm extended
Rep. Dean Urdahl is asking the Legislature to increase the fines from $300 to $500 for drivers who pass a school bus displaying a stop arm. Urdahl’s bill (HF 1948) was heard today in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention and Finance Committee.
MSBA Response: Increasing the fine does not solve the issue, but it may increase the awareness of the seriousness of the issue. If raising awareness saves the life of one child getting on or off the school bus, then this bill will be successful.
- Bill summary: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/89/HF1948.pdf