Capitol Wrap: World Junior Hockey tournament funding, public health insurance option, and more

Committee deadlines approach

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(KSTP) – With committee deadlines looming to keep legislation alive for possible passage this session, a wide variety of bills are getting attention at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Among them is a bill calling for a $6 million grant to Minnesota Sports and Events to help the organization host the 2026 World Junior Hockey tournament.

“This means jobs,” said Sen. Kelly Morrison(DFL-Deephaven), co-author of the bill. “This means tens of thousands of visitors. It means vitality and spending in our downtowns.”

The Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee also heard video testimony from Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne and Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Suni Lee of St. Paul, who spoke about support for the U.S. Olympic Trials coming to the Twin Cities.

Also at the Capitol Wednesday, a bill to open up Minnesota’s public health insurance program to more Minnesotans was approved by the House Commerce Committee.

“Too many Minnesotans still don’t have access to affordable, quality health coverage,” said Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-House Majority Leader and author of the bill.

Under his bill, the MinnesotaCare Public Option would allow more Minnesotans to enroll in MinnesotaCare with no deductibles for households under 400% of the federal poverty guideline and low deductibles for higher-income households. 

Many health care providers oppose the bill because public health insurance plans have lower reimbursement rates and private health insurance companies oppose it because they say it could have a negative impact on small group insurance plans.

“Competition is great, but Minnesotans appreciate a level playing field and this doesn’t provide for fair competition,” testified Mike Anderson of the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters.

The bill passed the House Commerce Committee on a voice vote with Republicans voting against it.

Another issue in the spotlight this week is the mandate passed last year for Minnesota’s electrical utilities to be carbon-free by 2040. Supporters of that mandate say it will be difficult to achieve unless the state streamlines the permitting process for solar and wind energy projects. 

“To reach our 2040 target for carbon-free electricity we must double the pace at which we add clean energy resources,” said Jake Schweitzer of North Star Policy Action, who supports a bill to streamline the permits. 

A recent study by North Star Policy Action indicates it could take until 2060 or later to reach the carbon-free goal.