My desire to lower healthcare costs was a major influence in my decision to run for office in Minnesota. During my special election, I promised to fight special interest groups and work to bring price transparency to healthcare. As soon as I was elected, I went to work keeping my promise, and I was proud to announce my price transparency legislation was signed into law in 2018.
In the legislature, I am a member of the Health & Human Services Finance Committee. I authored legislation to require prices be displayed at hospitals and clinics. I stood up against big pharma and lobbyists to bring this legislation through committee and to the house floor where it passed with bi-partisan support. Since I oppose multi-subject omnibus bills, I demanded this bill travel on its own and, as a result, it was one of the few bills Gov. Dayton signed into law in 2018. Because of my legislation, starting July of 2019, doctors and hospitals were required to publicly post prices for their most common procedures and insurance companies will no longer be able to prohibit doctors from charging a cheaper cash rate if you have a deductible. This is a huge step forward, but I want to do more!
High premiums, medical costs and deductibles are troubling many families in our district. Last year, the cheapest insurance plan purchased through MNSure for a young family of four in Blue Earth County was over 24k dollars, plus a 13k dollar deductible. This must change. Like many self-employed business owners and farmers, my family lost its health insurance due to Obamacare. MNsure has been a complete disaster and has proven that new approaches are desperately needed. Single payer systems result in higher taxes, fewer provider choices and less access to care. This is not what we want or need.
We need to focus not only on the health insurance problem, but the cost of healthcare problem. Minnesota needs new solutions to our healthcare crisis that involve free-markets and price transparency at the doctor’s office. We should be allowed to shop for our health care and negotiate prices with our healthcare providers. Every healthcare provider should be able to set its own price based on its own business model. We need more health insurance options in rural Minnesota. We should be allowed to buy and sell insurance across state lines and determine our own coverage level, thereby increasing competition and lowering prices.
We need to return the power over healthcare to patients. Imagine what price transparency and patient choice would do to the healthcare market. Consider Lasik Eye Surgery – a medical procedure which is not typically covered by insurance. This procedure used to cost thousands of dollars. Since insurance companies were not involved, Doctors and Clinics were forced to compete for your business. They improved technology, lowered costs and advertised to attract patients. Now, Lasik Eye Surgery is advertised as costing only $249. This drastic reduction in cost could be applied to all medical services and pharmaceuticals if we allow free markets driven by price transparency and strong consumer choice.
In 2019 I introduced the Patient Right to Shop Act. This will bring free market reforms to healthcare by bringing full price transparency and allowing people to shop for care based on price and transparency, instead of where insurance companies dictate you go.
Taxes & Spending
We need to cut taxes and reduce the size and scope of government. Our State budget increased by 9.6% last year alone. Government overspending in Minnesota goes hand in hand with the desire to regulate everything. While some government programs are necessary, we need to hold our government responsible for every dollar it spends. We should know if programs and laws are producing the results we expect, because every dollar government spends, it takes from someone. We deserve to know our money is being used effectively, efficiently and wisely.
We need to reduce property taxes and death taxes, create an automatic taxpayer refund when government over-taxes Minnesotans, and stop the efforts to raise taxes. Greatly reducing spending levels and increasing take-home pay will result in growth and opportunity in our district. Reducing taxes will help small businesses and farmers expand, allow family farms and businesses to remain in operation when one member dies, and attract new businesses and jobs to our district. I am the only candidate who signed the Taxpayers Protection Pledge created by the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, promising all the people of this state that I will oppose efforts to raise taxes.
During my first year in office, I voted against massive increases in spending and opposed putting our State further in debt. We can make major infrastructure investments in roads, bridges and wastewater treatment facilities without breaking the bank. Government should be focusing on our priorities, not pet projects.
Small Businesses and Jobs in Rural Minnesota
We need to improve the business environment in our state, so we can grow our companies, help our farmers, increase our jobs and attract new businesses to our communities. Due to our high taxes and overreaching regulations, Minnesota was named the 3rd worst State for doing business. This is why businesses in Minnesota are closing and taking jobs across the state lines. As your Representative, I will remain proactive and introduce new ideas. As a small business owner myself, I understand the burden high taxes and overreaching regulations cause. Improving our business environment will result in an explosion of economic growth, and opportunity in our district. Reducing taxes and overreaching regulations to make us competitive with neighboring states will help hard working individuals, small businesses and farmers. It will also attract new businesses and jobs to our district. Minnesota is competing against neighboring States for jobs. With a healthy national economy, companies are expanding and hiring. They are expected to bring back three trillion dollars from overseas to invest in the United States. We need to fix our business environment quickly if we want those companies to invest some of that money in Minnesota. I will fight for a level playing field and create a environment where businesses can grow and hire workers in Minnesota without being disadvantaged by high taxes and regulations.
At the legislature, I opposed new regulations on workers and businesses. I believe you shouldn’t need a license to go to work. Many industries believe licensing or registering with the State offers protections against competition. I believe competition only fosters innovation and improves competition. Licensing kills disruptive innovators like Uber, Lyft and Air B&B.
If a doctor declares you dead when your heart stops, she must declare you alive when your heart starts. I am pro-life. It’s just that simple. At the legislature this year, I voted yes on HF3194, which required physicians to allow viewing of ultrasound imaging prior to an abortion. Gov. Dayton vetoed this bill.
Agriculture is vital to the economy in our district. At the legislature, I am an active member of both the Ag Finance and Ag Policy committees. Governor Dayton and the DFL are waging an outright war on Ag. After just a few weeks on these committees, it became apparent that we have no support from the political party which has farmer in their name. To highlight this hypocrisy, I felt is was important to show the public which party is actually supporting legislation that helps our farm families. In March, I started caucusing with three other Republican lawmakers and started the Republican Farmer Labor Caucus (RFL). We posted videos about legislation supporting farmers and reporting who was actually supporting farmers in St. Paul. The RFL has continued to grow and gain support in both the Minnesota House and Senate.
Farmers are over-regulated and over-taxed. Buffer strips, the nitrogen rule, and restrictions on ditch mowing are putting unwelcome stresses on farm families in Minnesota. We cannot expect the next generation of farmers to take up this important trade if we restrict their ability to grow food for the world.
Through my experience farming and talking with farmers, I know the challenges they face. I also appreciate their high costs and low profit margins. Between the overreaching regulations, insurance costs, high property taxes, consequences of high death taxes on family farms, legal barriers and the unequal playing field MN has created compared to other states, we can and need to do better to help our farmers and small businesses.
The U.S. Constitution is clear: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Self-defense is an individual right. Creating new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners will only leave guns in the hands of criminals. Even the best intended law should not be enacted, if it is unable to be enforced correctly or creates an undesirable effect.
At the legislature, I worked diligently to stop legislation attacking our 2nd amendment protections. I also confronted many protesters at the Capitol to dispel the myths that accelerate their cause.
Roads and Bridges
Transportation is the lifeblood of Minnesota’s economy and also directly impacts quality of life in rural Minnesota. By employing common sense and long-term planning we can build great roads and solve our broader transportation issues without breaking the bank. We need roads and bridges, not rails and trails.
Investing in our infrastructure should be a priority for our State and not an afterthought. I support making transportation investment from our general funds and not putting our State into debt by bonding.
Our state needs to reduce the size and scope of government. This means taking power away from government and giving it back to the people of Minnesota. Government should be a servant of the people, not the other way around. With this understanding, we will be able to reign in our spending, reduce taxes and eliminate some of the overreaching regulations. I am not a career politician, so I will be focused on what is best for the people in our state and district and not worried about how to please outside interests. As your Representative, I will continue push for term limits, hold the government responsible for our hard earned money it spends, and support the single-subject rule to reduce the amount of pork that is added to good legislation.
Schools and Education
We must empower parents and allow teachers the freedom to teach without unending interference from politicians. I believe that parents, local schools and teachers, not the state, are the best decision-makers when it comes to education. In short, we need more local control. We know what is best for our communities and school districts. As your Representative, I will also push for equal funding for rural schools, because when our schools struggle, our communities and children suffer. As a father of two young girls, and one whose family includes a long list of teachers, education and schools are of high importance to me.
Minnesota has failed our schools by not properly managing the school trust lands. Each township in Minnesota originally had one entire section of land set aside for the benefit of the school. It was to be put into the most productive use with the money raised to support schools, teachers and students. The school trust land in our district was exchanged for valuable timber and mining land in Northern MN. Today there are 1.2 million acres of school trust land, most of which is not in productive use. The DNR is collecting mostly license fees for hunting on this land, but hasn’t given this $76 million to the schools. In the legislature, I voted to allocate these funds to our schools and pushed for reform to ensure our school trust lands are properly used to fund our schools.
Everyone agrees that we have a childcare shortage. For several years, the legislature has had initiatives, studies and panels discussing the problems but has not implemented meaningful reform. I went directly to the source for solutions and met with 50 local childcare providers and parents to draft bills reforming the burdensome regulations under which so many providers are being run out of business. Penalties for an insufficient number of crayons, prickly grass in the backyard or for having a plunger in the bathroom are just a few examples of how the current over regulation of childcare providers is failing. I believe providers and parents should write the set of rules which regulate them, not bureaucrats in St Paul. As your representative, I am listening and will help carry this legislation to bring the relief needed to allow childcare providers to continue providing safe and nurturing care for our kids. This is grassroots legislating. I want to restore power to the people and be a voice for those people who need help.