1.) MNsure officials announced Monday that they are rejiggering yet another deadline as a March 31 cutoff for enrolling without penalty approaches. As noted by MPR, there will be no penalty for individuals who begin but do not complete their enrollment by month’s end. That replaces a stipulation that enrollments must be completed by 3/31 to avoid penalty. The news drew a positive reaction from Gov. Mark Dayton, who released a statement shortly after MNsure’s announcement. “I strongly support MNsure’s decision to extend the enrollment period for Minnesotans who have tried to enroll in health care coverage by the March 31st deadline,” Dayton said.
Officials at the state insurance exchange announced last Friday that just over 131,000 Minnesotans had enrolled in health care programs since the exchange’s October launch. But so far late enrollees appear to be confounding predictions that a disproportionate share of buyers of private insurance through MNsure would wait until late in the game. According to a PIM analysis of numbers released by the exchange in recent weeks, some 16,464 enrollments were completed between March 10 and March 20/21, but only about 16 percent of those people (2,720) purchased private insurance. That’s markedly lower than the nearly 29 percent of enrollees purchasing private insurance through March 9. Meanwhile, however, enrollment in public programs – Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and MinnesotaCare – has exceeded their projected share of enrollments.
2.) Republicans staged a Monday morning press conference to keep up the heat on a DFL-backed proposal to build a new Senate office building. Legislation brought by Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, and Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, would strip the language for the $90 million construction project — which includes funding for two new parking structures — from the 2013 tax bill, where the provision was tucked in despite minimal public debate, particularly in the House. The bills have racked-up dozens of GOP co-sponsors, but DFL appetite to cancel the building’s construction remains to be seen. House Majority Leader Erin Murphy has wondered aloud how the Senate might make use of existing space during ongoing construction on the Capitol itself; approval for the project is still pending in Murphy’s House Rules Committee. Republicans did not offer an alternative plan of their own for housing Senate offices, though Dean said a solution would need to be found quickly to avoid rising costs on the Capitol restoration. “This is going to cost time and money,” Dean said, “and time is money, so there needs to be a resolution on this.”
3.) On Monday a state Senate bill to regulate e-cigarettes cleared its last committee hurdle, reports the Star Tribune. But the measure’s most controversial provision – a ban on indoor use that mirrors the indoor smoking ban – survived by just one vote an effort to strip it from the legislation, and DFL Sen. Kathy Sheran (Mankato) says that part of the bill could yet be removed when the bill (SF 2027) moves to the floor. The bill’s House companion would ban sales to minors and the use of e-cigarettes in public schools but does not include the indoor use ban
COMINGS & GOINGS
- The Stonewall DFL Caucus endorsed Mohamud Noor, school board member and challenger to Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, in the House District 60B endorsement contest. Noor received an ‘A’ rating from the gay rights advocacy group, which declined to give Kahn a rating, according to MinnPost.
- Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, endorsed Marion Greene in her campaign for the Hennepin County Board. Greene serve a single term in the House representing a liberal Minneapolis district, before redistricting pitted her against Hornstein, who won a contested endorsement race.
- Democrat Brenden Ellingboe has filed to run in House District 30A, a largely conservative area now represented by freshman Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River. Zerwas won election to that seat with nearly 64 percent of the vote in 2012.
- Denise Packard registered her candidacy to run a DFL campaign against Rep. Anna Wills, R-Apple Valley, in House District 50B. Packard, a registered nurse, won the Democratic endorsement in that district unanimously over the weekend. Wills, now in her first term, won election to the House with about 54 percent of the district vote.
- The Padilla Speer Beardsley law firm has terminated its political action committee, effective earlier this month. The PAC had been administered by the firm’s CEO, Lynn Casey.