About lowering health care costs (1/18/2019)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 1/18/2019

Hello from the State Capitol,

According to residents I heard from last fall, the top political issue in Minnesota is lowering health care costs. It’s likely to be the top political issue at the State Capitol this year as well, as it should be.

I’ve heard Gov. Pawlenty use a three legged stool analogy when describing health care, consisting of quality of care, access to care, and cost of care. We have some of the best quality of care here in Minnesota and right now, most areas of the state have access to care. The cost of care is the leg that is still out of whack. The goal for every lawmaker this session is to improve the cost of care without damaging access and quality in the process.

Two weeks into session, I can already see we’re going to have some interesting discussions.

For example, a debate has already begun regarding the provider tax. The tax, also referred to as the sick tax – is a two percent tax levied on most patient services in Minnesota, such as doctor visits. It was eliminated as part of bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011. On January 1, this tax on patient services will disappear.

Or maybe not. Governor Walz has already said it a “nonstarter” to end the tax, and the DFL House Health and Human Services Finance Chair said it was “essential” to restore the tax or replace its revenue, which currently helps fund programs such as MinnesotaCare. If the Legislature revisits this topic, does not allow the tax to sunset and reinstates it, the cost to patients is estimated at more than $600 million a year.

Speaking of MinnesotaCare, which is a state health insurance program available for low income residents who cannot afford MNsure, legislation has already been introduced to expand this program as a buy-in option for those on the individual market.

Proponents see this as a cure-all to Minnesota’s individual market ills. Opponents note the low reimbursement rates associated with the program would make it difficult, if not impossible, for some health care providers and hospitals to stay afloat (which would impact access to care in some parts of the state); would negatively impact the private insurance market; and take another major step towards government-run health care.

The key will be finding a solution that ensures a program remains in place to help those in need.

Finally, there is the issue of reinsurance. From 2014-2017, average rates on the individual market increased by double digits every year, including up to 67 percent for 2017. That’s why lawmakers approved a reinsurance plan two years ago. It was designed to stabilize premiums by mitigating the impact of high-risk individuals, or those who are the most sick, on the individual health insurance market.

It worked. Last year all five carriers on the individual market lowered premiums for 2019, with average rates dropping between 7.4 percent and 27.7 percent.

Despite this, reinsurance was a hot topic in many House election campaigns – mine included. Under the guidance of now-Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, reinsurance was labeled as bad news, mischaracterized as giving insurance companies a $500 million blank check “with virtually no strings attached.”

Yet at a recent Minnesota Chamber of Commerce dinner, Hortman was asked if reinsurance should be continued. She said “yes.”

If you enjoy political drama, the possibility now exists that those who ran against reinsurance on the campaign trail could now end up voting for it. Stay tuned.

Politics and legislation aside, understand that every Republican and Democrat at the State Capitol wants to improve your health care and lower your costs. The tough part will be deciding how we go about it while maintaining the quality and access of care. I look forward to seeing how these proposals progress through the committee process, and will keep you updated as session moves forward.

This week I took part in number of local meetings, participating in the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce reception, and a legislative priorities meeting that was hosted by the City of Cottage Grove. One of the topics there was addressing concerns with the 3M settlement and using some of those funds for filtration systems within Cottage Grove, something that will be discussed again in the very near future.

Finally I was pleased to take part in a Cottage Grove ribbon cutting at the new Sushi Cafe.

Stop in for sushi, delicious bubble tea or a hibachi entree. They’re located in the center behind Kohl’s near Jimmy John’s and Anytime Fitness.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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The first week of the session (1/11/2019)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 1/11/2019

Hello from St. Paul,

State lawmakers have returned to the State Capitol for the 2019 session and our work has begun. On January 8, all of the newly-elected state representatives were sworn into office on the Minnesota House floor.

It is such an honor to represent the people of Hastings, Cottage Grove, Afton, Denmark Township and Nininger Township, and I’m so grateful to have earned their trust for another two years.

The first week of session is usually not action-packed in terms of legislation being debated in committee or on the House floor. I did introduce a pair of bills. The first eliminates income taxes on Social Security benefits for all senior citizens. Last session we approved a law that helped tens of thousands of seniors keep more of their benefits, and I’m looking to continue that effort by helping the rest who did not qualify under that law. I spoke with the new chairman of the House Taxes Committee and he was receptive to giving my bill a hearing this year. The second bill would end lunch shaming in our schools.

But plenty of interesting events took place outside of the Capitol walls this week. For example, I was able to attend a dedication and ribbon cutting for a new 64-unit independent living and 75 unit skilled nurse & memory care service at Presbyterian Homes Norris Square Senior Living Community in Cottage Grove. It was a pleasure to speak at the ceremony.

I was also able to attend the swearing-in ceremony for new Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender, and sit with members of the Hastings Chamber of Commerce at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s Session Priorities dinner.

Today, I met with local leaders, YMCA representatives, and parents of Hastings High School students who are taking part in the Youth in Government program this weekend at the State Capitol.

These folks were able to tour the Capitol and learn more about the Youth in Government program.

Finally I enjoyed attending the Association of Metropolitan School Districts Legislative Session Preview, and I also took part in the bipartisan, bicameral panel discussion on health care costs and issues at the One Minnesota Legislative Policy Conference at U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

As with any new year, there are changes at the Capitol. You may remember my previous legislative assistants Micah and Nicole. This year I’ll be working with Josh Solano.

When you visit my office or call to set up an appointment, Josh is likely the first person you’ll see, so feel free to stop by and say hello!

Along those lines, you can call 651-296-3135 or email rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn to set up that appointment, or to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns with me. My new office is located in Room 351 of the State Office Building.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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I spoke with our incoming governor (1/4/2019)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 1/4/2019

Happy New Year!

On Thursday, I was pleased to visit rural Hastings constituent Bill Sorg’s dairy farm in Nininger Township, a location where Governor-elect Walz announced his choices for a number of cabinet positions within his new administration.

Bill Sorg dairy farm in Nininger Township

Following the announcement, I spoke with our incoming governor for a few minutes and both of us shared a strong desire to set partisanship aside this session and to work together in the best interests of Minnesotans.

set partisanship aside

This event will surely be a special memory for the Sorg family and their friends, and I’m always glad when a local resident can be honored for their accomplishments. You might recall that in 2009 the Bill and Randy Sorg families were named Dakota County’s “Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota, so I’m glad they were once again recognized as leaders in agriculture.

In other news, I just wanted to remind everyone about my listening sessions that will be taking place Saturday.

The events will be held at the following times and locations tomorrow, January 5:

  • Hastings City Hall, 101 4th St. East, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Cottage Grove City Hall, 12800 Ravine Parkway South, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Afton City Hall, 3033 St Croix Trail S, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Senator Bigham will join me at the Hastings gathering.

I’m holding these listening sessions earlier this year as I wanted to give residents the opportunity to share the topics that are important to them before session begins. I’m hopeful you will take some time Saturday morning to attend the session that best fits your schedule and share your thoughts.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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An early Christmas present (12/7/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 12/7/2018

Happy Holidays! As this is my first update since Election Day, I wanted to thank you for allowing me to continue serving as your voice in the Minnesota House. I am humbled by your support and once again look forward to fighting for the needs of Hastings, Cottage Grove, Afton Denmark Township and Nininger Township in St. Paul.

An early Christmas present has already arrived at the State Capitol, as we recently learned that Minnesota’s latest fiscal forecast shows a budget surplus of $1.544 billion for the next two year budget cycle. This likely continues the four year trend where lawmakers have not had to eliminate a budget deficit.

Of this amount, $491 million will be sent to our budget reserve account, which now contains more than $2 billion. That means just over $1 billion will remain for the Legislature to allocate before next session ends.

Keep in mind, this surplus exists because the State’s revenue collections – or taxes you paid to state government – exceeds the amount of anticipated expenses. Also remember that in early March we will receive an updated forecast that will be the official benchmark used by the Legislature as it moves forward and sets the budget for the next two years.

So if the positive economic trends continue or even improve, what should be done with this money? Last session we approved historic tax relief proposals, and I think more of them should be given consideration this session, particularly when it comes to eliminating taxation on Social Security benefits. Using some of the surplus on road and bridge repair needs might also make sense.

One thing is for sure: with this projected budget surplus we should not be thinking about any tax increases this session.

This positive news shows that a lot of the policies we enacted over the past two years are paying off. Legislative Republicans and the Governor’s Office will likely battle over who should accept credit for this surplus, but rather than focusing on that, I believe we should just agree that this surplus is a good thing and recognize that Minnesotans will benefit from last session’s work.

With the 2019 session less than a month away, I already have a handful of bills that I’m ready to submit for consideration. These proposals will center on veterans, senior citizens, and students, as well as local issues. I’ll share more information on those in the coming weeks following their official introductions.

But I also want to hear from you, so mark your calendars! On Saturday, January 5 I will be holding a series of listening sessions throughout the district. I wanted to hold these before session begins and give residents the opportunity to discuss the topics that are important to them. The sessions will take place from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at the Hastings City Hall, 101 4th St. East; 10:00 – 11:00 at the Cottage Grove City Hall, 12800 Ravine Parkway South; and 11:30 – 12:30 at the Afton City Hall, 3033 St. Croix Trail South.

Senator Bigham has a previous engagement and will be unable to attend, so we are hoping to hold joint town meetings sometime after session begins.

At a recent council meeting, it was my honor to present outgoing Hastings Mayor Paul Hicks with a Minnesota House resolution recognizing his leadership and service to the community. Paul not only served 28 years as mayor and city council member, but he also serves in a nonpartisan capacity in the Minnesota House with the Chief Clerk’s Office and does great work there as well. Congratulations Mayor Hicks on a job well done.

Congratulations are also in order for Mayor Richard Bend and Councilman Joe Richter of Afton, who are also stepping away from city leadership. Please join me in thanking them both for their commitment to the residents of Afton.

As always, I am available to respond to your thoughts and concerns. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-3135 to share your input. I look forward to hearing from you!

Talk to you soon,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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The session may be over but … (7/20/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 7/20/2018

Hello from the State Capitol,

Session may be over but constituents are still visiting the Capitol! On Wednesday I was pleased to meet children and staff from KinderCare in Cottage Grove and show them around the Capitol complex.

Also, the end of this week marks our 60th day since the end of the 2018 session. At that point, lawmakers are prohibited from sending out any email updates until November.

That said, I am always available to answer questions or comments. You can reach me at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn at any time.

The Rivertown Days celebration has begun in Hastings, and I will be around most of the weekend for many of the festivities. Also, this year’s National Night Out is August 7. If your neighborhood is planning a get-together and you’d like me to stop by, please contact my office at 651-296-3135 or send me an email at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn and I’ll try my best to make it to your event.

Have a great summer, and I look forward to seeing you in the days and weeks ahead!

Talk to you soon,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Many good provisions were lost (7/13/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 7/13/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

July is a typically a month when many new laws take effect. This year Governor Dayton vetoed our omnibus supplemental budget bill which means many good provisions – funding for our schools, tax relief and conformed state and federal tax laws – were lost.

That said, several others pieces of legislation did become law earlier this month, and if you’re interested in learning more about them please click here.

An update on road construction. Those of you traveling in the Cottage Grove and Afton areas have likely noticed Highway 95 is down for repair between Bailey Road and 70th Street. A number of safety improvements are being made here, including widening shoulders, constructing turn lanes, and resurfacing. Work is expected to be completed by September 7.

Hastings residents have likely noticed County Road 46 is also under repair. The resurfacing between County Road 85 and General Sieben Drive is expected to be completed Saturday. The next stretch to be improved – General Sieben Drive to Pine Street – is expected to begin in mid-July, with the entire project up to Highway 61 expected to be finished by mid-August.

As always, your thoughts on issues related to state government are welcome. Please email me at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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The Government and 3M Working Group (7/6/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 7/6/2018

Hello from the State Capitol,

I just wanted to remind everyone that the first meeting of the Government and 3M Working Group and the Citizen – Business Work Group will be held July 13 at Washington County’s Cottage Grove Service Center.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Government and 3M Working Group will meet from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The Citizen – Business Work Group will meet from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

In February 2018, Minnesota and the 3M Company settled their lawsuit regarding natural resource damages associated with a group of chemicals known as PFCs. 3M is making a grant of $850 million as a condition of the settlement to address two priorities in the east metro area. Priority 1 is safe drinking water and groundwater sustainability. Priority 2 is restoring and enhancing natural resources.

Meetings of all 3M Settlement work groups are open to the public, and time will be reserved at the end of each meeting for questions from attendees. I encourage you to attend.

Here’s some good news you may have missed. Recently the Minnesota Department of Commerce released preliminary rates for the 2019 individual insurance market, revealing that for the second consecutive year, Republican-led reforms have helped reduce or hold flat individual market health insurance rates after years of double-digit increases following the implementation of Obamacare in Minnesota.

All five of the carriers on the individual market are projected to decrease premiums for 2019, with average preliminary rates dropping between 3% and 12.4%. The individual market serves Minnesotans who buy health insurance on their own, not through an employer or the government.

From 2014-2017, average rates increased by double digits every year, including nearly 60 percent for 2017. Thanks to reforms enacted in 2017, individual market rates for 2018 remained flat or were reduced for most Minnesotans on the individual market. The Minnesota Department of Commerce confirmed last year that without these reforms, rates would have risen by 20% or more.

We also pushed for and successfully passed other key reforms to increase the number of health care options for Minnesotans by expanding agriculture co-op plans, and allowing more insurers into the market, a move that is already paying dividends for seniors on Medicare and employees.

We also successfully approved a nation-leading reform that ensured Minnesotans would have greater access to more doctors by requiring that plans on the individual market provide in-network access to more than one provider system, reversing the trend towards narrower networks.

My number one goal coming into the legislature was to stop Minnesota’s skyrocketing healthcare costs. We passed a number of reforms designed to stop the double digit health insurance premium increases being felt on the individual market, as well as preserving access and choice. With good news being reported now over the past two years, it’s clear the reforms are working and are helping those who have previously struggled with health insurance costs.

Final rates for the 2019 individual market are expected to be released in October 2018.

I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day and were able to take in the fireworks displays in our area. It was good to see so many residents in Afton on Wednesday as well as at Strawberry Fest in Cottage Grove last month. The next big area celebration will be at Rivertown Days in Hastings on July 20-22. I hope to see you there!

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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There’s Good News and Bad News to Report (5/30/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 5/30/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

There’s good news and bad news to report from St. Paul as Governor Dayton has taken action on compromise legislation approved by the Minnesota House and Senate.

Unfortunately the bad news is pretty bad. Governor Dayton vetoed two major pieces of legislation, the supplemental budget bill and a proposal that provided funding for our schools, instituted tax relief and conformed state and federal tax laws.

On the taxes side of the equation, tax conformity was critical this session because when the federal government approved new tax laws, Minnesota needed to adjust its state income tax policies in order to match up with the new guidelines. The plan also provided the first tax rate cut in 20 years, which would have benefited millions of Minnesotans. With the veto all of that is gone, plus filing your income taxes next year is expected to be more difficult, and it’s now estimated that roughly 300,000 Minnesotans will actually face tax increases because of this decision.

Schools also took a hit. Our proposal provided up to $225 million to assist school districts statewide, which resulted in well over $1 million lost for Hastings and South Washington County.

Our supplemental budget plan would have prevented a 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System, which impacts people with disabilities and their caretakers. Special education and Head Start students, people in need of mental health support; opioid addiction victims; and deputy registrars whose businesses are floundering due to the MNLARS mess are among those who will also suffer from the governor’s decision. Unfortunately, my provision that addresses school lunch shaming was included in the bill the governor vetoed. This is an issue I feel very strongly about so I intend to continue working on it in the future.

The vetoes are difficult for me to comprehend, especially since the bills passed with bipartisan support and the governor couldn’t really give any significant reasons why he made the moves. Also keep in mind these bills included a number of provisions he fought for, and that the Legislature addressed, eliminated, or altered 70% of other concerns he had with our proposals. I fear these vetoes were nothing more than political gamesmanship, which is the type of action that makes most Minnesotans cringe.

On the brighter side, the governor did sign into law our capital investment proposal. This includes $178 million in asset preservation, some of which will be utilized at the Hastings Veterans Home. Also included was funding for my proposal that will help create the Health and Emergency Response Occupations (HERO) Center proposal in Washington County, as well as the Dakota County SMART Center.

The governor also signed a bill that addresses the $850 million settlement between 3M and the State of Minnesota, which will help ensure the funds are used only in the East Metro in order to keep our drinking water clean.

Though this legislative session ended with some ups and downs, I’m pleased with the success stories that were brought forward during my first term as your state representative. Whether it was historic tax relief for the middle class and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to transportation at the state level, or protecting Highway 316 speed limits in Hastings and providing guardrails for 3M settlement dollars at the local level, we made good progress in a number of areas.

In other news, it was great to see many of you at our local Memorial Day events. I was pleased to attend the Hastings Veterans Home flag ceremony, a Memorial Day service, and a wreath ceremony in Hastings Monday morning. I also attended Cottage Grove’s Memorial Day service later that afternoon. That was followed by a return to Hastings to greet the dozens of individuals who braved 100 degree heat to walk 28 miles from Red Wing to Hastings as part of their Memorial Day March for Them.

These events were not only terrific but touching, and it was a privilege to be in attendance. Hats off to all of the organizers who spent countless hours planning these ceremonies, reminding us that freedom isn’t free and honoring those men and women who paid the ultimate price.

Talk to you soon,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Session Ends With Many Bipartisan Agreements (5/21/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 5/21/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

The 2018 Legislative Session has come to a close, and while the final days were hectic, we did approve a number of common sense provisions and sent them to Governor Dayton for his approval.

Locally, both legislative bodies approved a bill that ensures public transparency and guardrails for the $850 million 3M settlement. The goal of the proposal is to be sure the funds are used only in the East Metro in order to keep our drinking water clean.

Additionally, the legislation includes a provision I authored relating to testing private wells in the East Metro. Under the plan, the MPCA must develop a webpage that includes the process for public and private well perflurochemicals (PFCs) sampling in the east metro area. The webpage will include an interactive map that allows people to view locations of well advisories and areas projected to be sampled for PFCs, and contact information for the MPCA and Department of Health to answer questions on the sampling of private wells. Results must also be reported to impacted communities and the Legislature.

I’ve been working with the MPCA on the well-testing issue and am pleased we found an acceptable compromise. Transparency throughout this process is not only important to me but those who are concerned about the safety of their drinking water, and I truly believe this is a positive step forward.

In the area of taxes, we approved what would be the first income tax rate cut for Minnesotans in nearly two decades by reducing the first and second tier income tax rates. In total, the bill cuts taxes for 2.2 million Minnesotans, and 99.8% of Minnesotans – in other words, almost all of you – would see tax reductions or be held harmless by tax changes made at the federal level.

In K-12 Education, we agreed to make available up to $225 million in funding for schools across Minnesota. We also approved approximately $28 million in school safety funding that gives schools resources and flexibility to make physical safety improvements and boost efforts for student mental health. Combined with bonding dollars, House Republicans have proposed more than $50 million in this area.

Transportation infrastructure also received another funding infusion. You’ll recall last year the Legislature made the largest investment in roads and bridges in a decade, putting billions of dollars over the next ten years towards the state’s transportation needs without raising gas taxes or license tab fees.

In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, we instituted a number of reforms that we hope will help those fighting addiction, approved several provisions that address elder abuse and will better protect our elderly and vulnerable adults, and passed a pension reform proposal for our state employees.

We approved a capital investment plan that will fund needed construction projects across Minnesota. Included in the plan was funding for my Health and Emergency Response Occupations (HERO) Center proposal in Washington County, the Dakota County SMART Center, and asset preservation funding for Veterans Affairs, some of which would help local residents at the Hastings Veterans Home.

As with any negotiation, each side has to give something to get something. For instance, before we sent him our supplemental budget legislation, Governor Dayton found more than 100 items he objected to in the bills. It was important for us to show him we were acting in good faith, which is why leadership agreed to remove or modify 60 percent of those provisions. It’s also important to note these bill also contained a number of major priorities the governor insisted we include.

As I write this, I remain optimistic that the Governor will sign the legislation. These bills build off of many of last session’s successes – including middle-class tax relief and increased transportation funding. In most cases they were approved in a bipartisan fashion, which is usually a telling sign that the proposals being passed are good ones.

Though session has ended, I am always available to respond to your thoughts and concerns. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn or contact my office at 651-296-3135 to share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. I look forward to hearing from you!

Talk to you soon,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Passing bills with bipartisan support (5/11/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 5/11/2018

Hello from the State Capitol,

This week the House spent the majority of its time passing a number of policy bills – most with either strong bipartisan if not unanimous support.

One of the proposals I co-authored is beneficial to those suffering from chronic diseases. The plan makes needed changes to step therapy – a policy requiring a patient to try and fail first on several medications before receiving their doctor-prescribed medication. If the doctor feels a certain prescription is going to work for the patient, this bill would prevent forcing the patient to try other medicines first. To me the plan is common sense and will keep prescription decisions between the doctors and their patients, not insurance companies.

This week the Minnesota Senate unveiled its bonding bill. Unfortunately, none of the items I’ve been lobbying for – HERO Center, SMART Center, and Hastings City Hall – are included. The House bill did include the HERO and SMART Centers, and I continue seeking other funding alternatives for Hastings City Hall.

Lawmakers also received some positive economic news this week. The Minnesota Office of Management and Budget announced that a forecast for the month of April showed incoming revenues greatly exceeded expectations by $252 million. These same folks had speculated earlier that Minnesota would only see a $329 million windfall for the rest of this fiscal year. Increased income tax collections led to the majority of the improved forecast.

Minnesota’s economy is strong and getting stronger, and it’s my belief that tax relief enacted at both the state and federal levels is making a major impact.

This week, Rep. Bob Loonan and I were asked to visit with and welcome Minnesota Commercial Real Estate professionals as part of their day at the Capitol. I was also able to visit with Hastings teachers Betsy Carroll, Christy Warner and Spencer Johnson who were lobbying for additional spending for schools.

I was honored to address folks from 2nd Harvest Heartland in the Capitol rotunda today to talk about hunger in Minnesota. Their bonding request for a new food shelf distribution center is in both the House and Senate bills, and now we need to get it across the finish line.

Cottage Grove Middle School has been awarded the 2018 Emerging Minnesota School of Character by the Synergy & Leadership Exchange. Rep. Keith Franke and I were able to congratulate school officials at the Character Recognition Awards ceremony at the Science Museum this week.

This week I was also pleased to have Mackenzie Swaim from Park High School join us at the Capitol. Mackenzie was serving as a page as part of the Minnesota House High School Page Program, and I hope she enjoyed her time in St. Paul.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, join me at Jessie Diggins Day in Afton! The event will give area residents a chance to celebrate her gold medal-winning performance and share their excitement.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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