Unless some semblance of reason prevails in the next two weeks, the 2014 legislative session will finish with an incredible paradox. DFL legislators rammed through some of the most partisan, and I think we’ll find damaging, pieces of legislation in a long, long time. Yet this Legislature will have failed to pass into law a truly significant reform that has broad bipartisan and geographically diverse support.
The bipartisan issue we can still take care of is getting at the root of insurance fraud in Minnesota. Our state has become a magnet for those seeking to game the system as it relates to insurance. It has been shown that Minnesota families would save over $1,400 every year by rooting out insurance fraud.
Every Minnesotan probably knows exactly what I’m writing about. If you’ve ever had a fender bender, you’ve probably received stacks of unsolicited offers of assistance with promises that seem too good to be true. They are. If you’ve ever had storm damage in your neighborhood, you’ve probably seen the door-to-door “salesmen” selling you an unbelievable deal to replace your roof or siding. Don’t believe it.
Families could do a lot with $1,400
Think about what the average family could do with that $1,400 estimated savings. Families might be able to afford part of the increases in health-care premiums and deductibles. They might have some relief from the tax hikes instituted during this biennium. Maybe some families will donate their savings to help pay for the palatial, $90 million legislative office building being constructed for our part-time Legislature. With the brunt of the surplus now being spent, setting new floors that future legislators are going to be forced to deal with, the savings for families could provide some relief for the inevitable future DFL attempts at broad tax increases to continue irresponsible and wasteful spending.
We have a bill [H.F. 3073] that was introduced to us earlier this year with a wide range of support that should have made all Minnesota voters proud. The insurance fraud legislation introduced was meant to get a handle on accident solicitations, provide some common-sense civil penalties for prosecutors, and ensure more robust information sharing. It was Senate and House, Democrat and Republican, rural and urban.
If these common-sense reforms were allowed a straight-up vote in either the House or Senate, this bill would have passed with overwhelming majorities. Juxtapose that with Obamacare/MNSure, which passed without a single vote from Republicans and is now a law that doesn’t work for Minnesota.
Citizens must weight in with House members
I believe DFL leadership in the Senate is prepared to “let” this bill [S.F. 2372] get a fair vote on the floor. If they do, I applaud them and mark my words that bill will pass by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. The House is another matter. Trial lawyers have overwhelming control the House DFL agenda. It is up to the citizens to weigh in with members of the House DFL Caucus and tell them that $1,400 is not chump change to their families.
We have simple steps at our disposal to make some of these fixes around accident solicitation and the ability of prosecutors to impose civil penalties around the pervasive issue of insurance fraud.
With so much partisanship in the political process, my hope is that we can make real progress on a bill like this that has such broad, bipartisan support. Citizens watching the end of this legislative session will learn all they need to know if Democrats stand up for trial lawyers, who have become the ATMs for their campaigns, or if they’ll stand up for Minnesotans.
Rep. Tim Sanders of Blaine, a Republican, is the minority whip and represents District 37-B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
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