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House Republicans Unveil Health Care Reform INITIATIVES

 SAINT PAUL – (December 11, 2007) -- Freedom and Choice.  Privacy and Security.  No Government Takeover of Health Care.  These are the core principles of the health care plan unveiled today by the Minnesota House Republicans.   

"Cost containment and affordability are key factors in the debate on health care reform," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "However, free choice and consumer protection of medical data must also be addressed as parallel tracks. Our reform initiatives support consumer freedom and privacy, not a Big Brother single payer system of rationing owned and operated by the government." 

Health care is anticipated to be a major topic during the 2008 legislative session. Seifert said he and other members of the House Republican Caucus have traveled throughout their districts, held town meetings, and listened to people's concerns. While many people expressed their concerns with the rising costs of health care and their ability to pay their premiums and afford quality health care, there was much concern over movement toward a government run system. 

"Putting people into state and federal subsidized health care is not reform. It is not the cure for the rising costs of health care, nor is it a guarantee that consumers will continued to have access to quality health care," declares Seifert.  "They must be engaged in taking responsibility for their own health.  Government subsidies can not keep up with cost increases. Either taxes will increase dramatically or services will be rationed and waiting lists will become common if the government becomes the principal payer.  

The Republican reform initiatives are steps that are driven by consumers and the marketplace. The initiatives aim to identify solutions that provide more choice and better health while making healthcare more affordable. 

"People need to be in charge of their own health.  They have been insulated from real decision-making," said Representative Jim Abeler, Republican lead on the Health and Human Services Finance Committee.  "And they need to be able to afford their health care. Lasik eye surgery costs have come down over the years because insurance didn't pay and people had to shop around.  Quality was maintained and costs dropped.  That is success.  This debate must focus on empowering consumers with information and freedom to make choices.  The health care system is starting to respond, even as the Lasik model has proven it to be possible." 

Seifert said the 21st century health care system could look much different and be much worse than the system people know today. He said government takeover of individual freedom and responsibility would be a huge step backwards in providing quality, accessible and affordable health care. 

"Any reform measure must focus first on the individual and be based on real choices. There is no bona-fide market in health care.  For some people health care seems free but we are becoming painfully aware that somebody has to pay," Seifert said. "Increased choice, transparent pricing and shopping consumers will help drive down costs." 

Approximately 7.4% of Minnesotans lack health insurance.  Approximately one-half of them are already eligible for Minnesota state programs. It is estimated that another one-third would be able to be covered under the Republican plan.  It is estimated that the actions outlined by House Republicans will help stop the erosion of those who currently have coverage where increasing costs are driving employers and individuals to discontinue coverage.  Industry experts have stated that the uninsured who consistently refuse to accept or who don't need coverage will hover around 2 to 3 percent.

"Reform must ultimately rely on a market solution, not moving people into a state-sponsored program," Seifert said.  "There are some individuals who need our help, and we need to help them.  However, just enrolling more people does absolutely nothing to reduce the cost of health care.  We have to address the disease to prevent the symptoms, and not just keep on giving away Band-Aids."

-- 30 --

HOUSE REPUBLICANS CALL FOR FISCAL RESTRAINT

Seifert Says: "Stop growing government. Start growing jobs."

Saint Paul – (November 30, 2007) – House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today said the state's $373 million budget deficit demands fiscal restraint and accountability in the upcoming legislative session.  

"We need to spur the economy with business development and job growth," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "Government should not grow at a faster rate than the private sector. Government needs to make sacrifices so we don't increase the tax burden on job creators and families. Our financial ground will continue to erode until we acknowledge that we cannot grow government and tax our way to prosperity." 

The state's budget forecast reflects the impact of a national economic slowdown that is being largely driven by slower projected economic growth, record high oil prices, an increasingly weak housing market and the resulting tightening on lending.  

"Minnesotans across the state are seeing less discretionary income and that has a direct impact on the state's economy," Seifert said. "While businesses, families and farms are looking to tighten their budgets, the Democrats are working on plans to raise their taxes to fuel the growth of government." 

Government spending has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. State general fund spending has increased nearly 40 percent in the last 10 years from $24 billion to $34.5 billion.

 "Now is not the time to raise taxes. We do not need more money from taxpayers to fund unsustainable growth in government programs. We need to prioritize, cut wasteful government spending and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently," Seifert said.

Seifert said news of a budget deficit presents many challenges to the spending proposals and large bonding bill already being discussed for the next legislative session.

"The state budget should operate like the family budget. When there is less revenue, we spend less money," Seifert said. "The Democrats already spent the $34 billion in the state's budget and squandered away a $2 billion surplus. We simply do not have the money in the checkbook for more spending. The bonding bill must stay within the $965 million threshold and focus on fixing our state's core infrastructure needs. Festivals, theaters and ice rinks come in a distant second to funding for safe roads and bridges.

Seifert said the budget deficit could have been higher if the Democrats tax and spend proposals were all signed into law. Governor Tim Pawlenty line-itemed veto more than $32 million in spending and vetoed a pork-filled bonding bill.

"The Democrats overspent last session and then tried to raise our taxes," Seifert said. "Government doesn't need relief. Minnesotans do. We need to protect the taxpayer pocketbook, not use it as a never-ending cash machine."

-- 30 --

 

DEMOCRATS TURN A PART-TIME LEGISLATURE INTO A FULL-TIME JOB

Seifert Says: "It's time to cut government."

 SAINT PAUL – (November 7, 2007) – Citing the more than 80 committees, subcommittees, working groups, task forces and commissions in the Minnesota House of Representatives, House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today criticized Democrats for the expansive and expensive growth in government.

"The explosive growth of government shows what happens when Democrats take over," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "The complicated and bloated process is confusing to the public, time consuming and expensive. There is very little to show for the excessive amount of meetings taking place. When all is said and done, there will be a lot more said than done."

Seifert said it is nearly impossible to determine how many groups are working on legislation and how much this process is costing Minnesota taxpayers.

"There seems to be a lot of repetition without reason. We question the necessity of having so many subgroups working on legislation that a standing committee should be able to accomplish on its own and the great number of meetings being held at taxpayer expense to hear about the problems but not bring forward solutions," Seifert said. "The Democrats have turned a part-time citizen legislature into a full-time job."

Seifert said at a time when schools and nursing homes are struggling to make their budgets, House Democrats chose to almost double its operations budget from $324,000 to $646,000 during a House Rules Committee meeting in August.

"We gave schools a mere 3 percent increase for the biennium and nursing homes received even less than that but then gave gigantic increases to the Legislature," Seifert said. This is a matter of priorities. The Democrats ran on fiscal responsibility and leadership. They have failed to demonstrate either during their reign of confusion in the Minnesota House. When House Republicans are in charge, we will restore fiscal sanity by cutting the number of committees by more than 50 percent and returning costs to prior levels."

Seifert said he is most concerned about the upcoming legislative session.

"We have important issues we need to resolve and this process doesn’t make me confident that we will achieve those results," Seifert said. "In the private sector, failing businesses are often over managed and under led. The more than 80 House Democrat committees are too busy mopping the floor to take time and turn off the faucet."

 

-- 30 --

 

 

WISHFUL THINKING FAILS TO DELIVER REAL TAX RELIEF

It’s time to get real and focus on solutions

By Representative Marty Seifert

From the start of the legislative session, Governor Tim Pawlenty has been firm in his commitment to veto tax increases. With a $34 billion state budget and a $2.2 billion surplus, we do not need to raise taxes.

Rather than keep faith with their pledge for fiscal moderation, the House Democrats proposed massive tax increases on small businesses, farmers and corporations. Raising taxes to pay for tax relief is not responsible fiscal management. It is an unnecessary false choice that could lead to the greatest disappointment of the legislative session – the failure to deliver property tax relief.

The House Democrat tax bill calls for a $450 million income tax increase that will negatively impact 60 percent of small businesses and many working families. It imposes millions in tax increases on some of our state’s largest employers. We should be encouraging job creators to expand in our state, not drive them away with the highest tax rate in the nation. 

The House Democrat tax increase can be summed up in three words: unaffordable, unsustainable and unnecessary. More than $784 million in new taxes is simply not necessary when we are already growing state revenues by nearly 10 percent.

The most unfortunate part of the House Democrat tax bill is that you, the taxpayer, have been left behind. The bill does not provide any property tax relief in 2007. Not one cent. Furthermore, it sends money to counties, cities and school districts rather than providing direct property tax relief to you. There is absolutely no requirement that local units of government return this “relief” to you, which means there is no guarantee that you will receive any form of property tax relief.

It is time to get real. We are not leaving the legislative session with a tax increase. It is simply not going to happen.

Raising taxes and failing to deliver direct tax relief to homeowners are nonstarters. With less than one month to go in the legislative session, it is too late to start from scratch. We need solutions to the tax burden, and we need them now.

The state has a $34 billion budget, a $2.2 billion surplus and a 9.8 percent increase in state spending. Tax increases are not needed. They are not the only choice to provide tax relief and investments in education, health care and transportation.

Good schools, affordable health care and property tax relief are shared priorities. Republicans and Democrats alike are committed the investing in that which makes Minnesota a great place to live, work and raise a family.

It is time to work together on a solution that balances the budget, invests in our state’s priorities and provides immediate property tax relief – all without a tax increase. House Republicans stand ready to deliver these core basics. We will not look to the taxpayer as a source of revenue but a beneficiary of our investments.

-- 30 --

 

Is Our New State Motto Land of Welfare Opportunities?

Welfare Expansion, Higher Taxes Hurt Minnesota

By Representative Marty Seifert

One third of the tax dollars you pay to the state of Minnesota go to various public assistance programs. That is five times more than the state taxes you pay for public safety efforts.

Minnesota collected $1,559 more in state taxes from each person than South Dakota took from the average person in that state.  People paid $1,020 less than you for state taxes in Iowa, $590 less in Wisconsin, and $535 less in North Dakota.

Many of the extra tax dollars you pay go to generous welfare programs that draw “welfare pioneers” to Minnesota.  Sadly, the Democrats are trying to make Minnesota into an even bigger welfare magnet.

Every month, about 10% of the people who apply for Minnesota welfare benefits have moved here from other states or countries.  While some Minnesota-born people may need help from welfare programs for a short time, most quickly move back into jobs and independence. 

But the newcomers to Minnesota tend to stay on programs much longer.  Over the last six years, about 30% of Minnesota welfare recipients have moved to Minnesota within the last five years.  That is three times the average monthly welfare sign-up rate for newcomers.

It is crucial to hold the line on welfare programs to keep Minnesota from becoming an even bigger welfare magnet.  The Health and Human Services programs account for 29% of the state budget.  That is $9.5 billion of spending, or $4,700 per taxpayer.  If these programs are not held in check, they could eat the whole budget in a few years.

House Democrats have approved legislation to increase the health and welfare budgets by 19.7% in the next budget, and by a staggering 41.7% in 2010-11. 

We cannot afford that kind of growth in welfare programs in the future.

No one can question that work is important for a person’s feeling of self-worth.  But Democrats have proposed to eliminate or weaken many “welfare to work” requirements that prod welfare recipients who can work to seek employment every week and find jobs in a reasonable period of time.  If Democrats succeed in weakening the work-for-welfare rules, Minnesota will face $26 million in federal fines.

Incredibly, Democrats are even seeking to waive the “job search” requirement for the first year that immigrants are in America.  Our message should be, “if you move to Minnesota, be ready to work.” It should not be “welcome to our state, put up your feet and enjoy the benefits.”

Another area where Democrats are inviting massive federal fines rests in opening the door to more welfare recipients with higher eligibility standards while reducing the work requirements for thousands of beneficiaries.

We already have 37,000 families on MFIP (cash and food benefits), another 87,000 families on Food Support alone, plus 15,400 people on General Assistance (cash for adults without children in the house), and 28,840 people on Minnesota Supplemental Aid.  We need more taxpayers to pull the government wagon, not more people riding in it.

The Democrats also oppose the Governor’s requests to increase penalties for welfare abuse, such as shortening the six-month “grace period” between the time a discrepancy is discovered and benefits are cut off.  That would affect about 300 recipients per month. 

The Governor will have to veto the Democrats’ plan to increase human services and health programs by 41.7% in 2010, both because our society cannot sustain such growth in government and because it is not good to discourage work.  House Republicans will support this common sense, fiscally responsible approach. We will sustain the Governor’s veto. 

We owe it to the taxpayers and the welfare recipients to make sure that these programs are well managed and encourage people to break the cycle of despair and dependence on government. Self worth, a good work ethic and fiscal responsibility may be “old fashioned” terms but they are valid values in which we should model our public assistance programs.

 

 

 

Voters Getting Soaked with Tax Proposals by Democrats
by Representative Marty Seifert, House Republican Leader

 

When voters went to the polls last year, there certainly was a sense of change in their minds. Many people were upset about congressional scandals, over-spending, frustration with foreign policy and other various issues. There seemed to be a sense, however, that Democrats were campaigning to hold the line as "new fiscal moderates" for the people of Minnesota, whatever vague and attractive meaning that might have held for the voters.

So November's elections came and went. The voters swept in a large Democrat majority in the legislature, although only by about 4500 votes statewide. However, now the new Democrat-controlled legislature is obsessed with tax increases on you.

All of the following bills are brought to your courtesy of the new Democrat Majority in the legislature: the $1.2 billion income tax increase; three different bills to jack up your sales taxes; a bill to triple the taxes on hearses; a bill to jump up gas taxes by 50%; another big increase in deed taxes; another bill piles up huge increases on alcohol: a 790% increase in beer taxes and 450% increase in wine taxes; there's a proposal to tax gifts and another bill to jack up the taxes on cell phones, land-line phones and other telecommunications devices by 46%; and a bill to impose a 25-cent tax on every incandescent light bulb in the state. There's also bills to increase "fees" on pharmacies, deer hunters, video and electronic equipment sales and more.

Keep in mind, Minnesota has a surplus that exceeds $2 billion. The average family will get nailed by these Democrats tax increases, on top of squandering the entire surplus. Are they really silly enough to believe that the government should grow much, much faster than the income of ordinary families? Do only the "rich" buy gas, own phones, drink a beer or die? All of these things will be taxed much more.

Let me be clear: growing government by any other name is just the same. I'm not interested in renaming taxes as fees or fees as taxes. This has been done by people of both parties in the past and the voters are smart enough to see through it. The government ought to live within its means like a family or business. Period.

The $4 billion of tax increases from Democrats could be divided up in many different ways - if you divide it straight up, it would be well over $1,000 per taxpayer in this fiscal period. It goes up more for couples and families as there are only 5 million people that live in this state. Many are on fixed incomes.

As the new House Republican Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives, let me assure you that my Republican colleagues and I will fight for the ordinary family and against these gigantic tax increases. The Governor stands with us and we are firm in our belief that the government growth should not outstrip the growth of the family income. We have a surplus and the state government coffers grow daily, due to better jobs, higher incomes, stable employment and fiscal discipline from Governor Pawlenty. There is room to fund education and health care with this money.

This is not about Democrat versus Republican: it's about common sense fiscal management over big tax increases to pay for special interests demanding more and more of your money. Let me assure you that our focus is on key issues that concern working families: controlling taxes, equitable, fair and accountable education funding and health care reform that makes health care more affordable.

The Republican members will fight against the Democrat proposals to allow non-citizens to vote, to let 16-year-olds vote, to smother businesses with regulations and to micro-manage people's lives. We will offer legislation that fosters more freedom, less government, more equitably funded and accountable education and lower property taxes.

If you thought that the Democrats were for the "little guy" or fiscal moderation in the elections last year, I'd suggest you look at all of the proposed tax hikes and silly bills by their membership and then hold them accountable.

 

 

Seifert says: "Democrats misled the public with their campaign promises."

SAINT PAUL -- (March 5, 2007) -- Minnesota House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today said Democrats misled the public with their campaign promises of fiscal moderation and tax relief.

"The Democrats campaigned as fiscal moderates but their policies clearly demonstrate their true tax and spend agenda," said Minnesota House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "We have a $34 billion budget and a budget surplus, There is no need to raise taxes. If the Democrats cannot figure out how to invest in priorities and balance a budget without tax increases, they should not be leading this state."

The Democrat tax proposals before the Minnesota Legislature total more than $1 billion a year. Some of the tax increases include:

  • Income tax hike on the upper tier from 7.85% to 8.5%
  • one-half cent metrowide sales tax
  • 10 cents a gallon gas tax
  • Statewide fuel taxes
  • $20 per vehicle wheelage fee
  • Increase in vehicle registration taxes and tab fees
  • Sales tax on prefabricated homes
  • New state tax on gifts
  • Increase in the statewide home mortgage DEED tax by 50%
  • Increase tax on car leases
  • Extend the 6.5% sales tax to cosmetic surgery
  • Increase tax on foreign operating corporations
  • New state tax on gifts
  • 5 cents a gallon paint tax

Seifert said Democrats made too many campaign promises to win their seats and are now learning they can't pay for them.

:It is easy to make promises and harder to keep them. It is unfortunate that the Democrats are learning that lesson at the taxpayer expense," Seifert said. "With the Democrats in control, Minnesotans will be literally nickel and dimed to death."

Seifert said House Republicans will unveil their budget, which will not raise taxes, by the end of the week.

"Taxing and spending won't solve the problem. Republicans will lead this state with conservative fiscal management, smart spending and a strong savings plan," Seifert said. "We want Minnesotans to keep more of their dollars, nickels and dimes."

 - 30 --

HOUSE REPUBLICANS PUT THE TAXPAYER FIRST

SAINT PAUL (January 22, 2007) House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today called for more tax relief and less government spending in response to Governor Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget recommendations.

"The proposed budget needs help in terms of tax relief and less government spending," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "Tax relief is our number one priority. Minnesota House Republicans will fight for the taxpayer this session and do everything in our ability to increase the amount of tax relief in the final budget."

Seifert said House Republicans have already authored a tax package that would expedite reduction of property taxes and provided needed tax relief to Minnesotans, particularly the middle class. 

"Our tax package features immediate relief and permanent reform. It is what Minnesotans have asked for and it is what we as a legislature should deliver," Seifert said. "We will achieve tax relief when we put the taxpayer first. Planning for the final state budget must begin at that basic starting point."

Seifert expressed concerns with the level of spending in the proposed $34.4 billion budget. The budget features a 9.3 percent increase from the previous budget."

"Today's opening bid of a 9.3 percent increase in state spending is too high. We need to make government smaller and more efficient to prevent these near double digit increases in government spending every biennium. The average income of a Minnesota taxpayer is not rising by 9.3 percent. Government spending shouldn"t either."

 The House Republican Caucus will release its own budget in the next month.

"In releasing his budget, Governor Pawlenty said it is now up to the Legislature to do their work. We are ready to help get the job done," Seifert said.

 --30--

 
HOUSE REPUBLICANS FOCUS ON RELIEF, REFORM & RESULTS
SAINT PAUL -- (January 12, 2007) -- Citing experienced, innovative and accountable leadership, Minnesota House Republicans today said they will continue to lead the state in providing tax relief, health care reform and education.

"We are leaders who get results," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "We will lead this state with real solutions for real people. Our budget will be balanced and our priorities will focus on core areas of concern for Minnesotans - tax relief, health care reform and education results."

Seifert acknowledged the depth of experience as he unveiled the first three initiatives of the House Republican Agenda.

"We are united in leadership and focused on solutions. We led this state for eight years and we delivered results," Seifert said. "Our work is far from over. We will ensure that the Minnesota taxpayer is our first priority and that the legislation we pass actually helps improve our state, not burden it."

Taxes - Direct Relief to Taxpayers, Not Government
House Republicans said they were disappointed the DFL majority blocked every attempt to provide tax relief to an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans during Thursday's floor session. Seifert said House Republicans will unveil their 2007 Tax Relief Plan on Tuesday, January 16. The plan will include income tax cuts and property tax reform that provides permanent property tax relief.

"Immediate property tax relief is only paralleled by long-term property tax reform," Seifert said. "Our proposal will do both. Our state continues to be one of the highest taxed in the nation. The Senate DFL continues to propose bills with tax increase and the House DFL left thousands of taxpayers behind in a bill on tax conformity. House Republicans will not forget the taxpayer. Our tax plan directs relief to taxpayers, not government."

Education - A Student is a Student
House Republicans will proposed providing equity funding for all students and continue efforts to help students achieve their greatest academic potential.

"No child should receive a lesser education because of their zip code. A student is a student regardless of where they live. Education funding should be fair and balanced," Seifert said.

Seifert said House Republican will develop new funding formulas for per-pupil state aid to local schools. Minneapolis currently receives more than $11,000 from the state while students in rural Minnesota often receive half as much. The House Republican plan will maintain current levels of funding for school districts and raise lower-paid school districts until support for all students is equalized.

Other education measures proposed by House Republicans include enhancing academics in the area of science and math, requiring school districts to be held accountable for budgeting, and expanding the school day.

"More time and money in the classroom will provide our students with the education they need to compete in the 21st century global economy," Seifert said.

Health Care - Personal Empowerment and Private Sector Solutions
In direct contrast to the government run health care proposal unveiled by the Senate DFL, House Republicans said their agenda will focus on personal empowerment and private sector solutions.

"Government run health care is not the cure," said Representative Tom Emmer, House Republican Deputy Leader. "We need to structurally reform the system, re-design programs to focus on better outcomes and increase access through the private market."

Emmer said countries that have universal health care are facing their own problems. Under Canada’s Medicare there are no user fees for medical services. Everything is paid for with tax dollars and it is against the law to privately pay for major services.

The Fraser Institute, an independent public policy organization there, concluded that although the country spends more on health care than almost every other developed nation, Canadian citizens endure long waiting times to be treated and inferior access to both medical technology and physicians. The median waiting time between referral by a general practitioner and treatment for general surgery patients was over ten weeks, gynecology over 14 weeks and ophthalmology is 27 weeks. An orthopedic surgery patient will wait more than 40 weeks while radiation oncology patients wait about five weeks.

Emmer said the House Republican plan will focus on helping small businesses with health care affordability, connecting uninsured individuals with private sector solutions, creating incentives for health care savings, and ensuring that quality of care and accessibility of care is not lost in the debate for government run health care.

"Universal health care proposals could increase taxpayer expectations anywhere from $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion within the next few years," Emmer said. "This is one treatment taxpayers can't afford."

Detailed plans for these initiatives and others will be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Five Governing Principles
Seifert also unveiled the five governing principles House Republicans will use to develop, evaluate and support legislation: Common Sense, Fiscal Responsibility and Lower Taxes, Personal Responsibility and Individual Freedom, Stronger Families, and Safety and Security.

"There governing principles will guide our legislators and hopefully the entire Minnesota Legislature in doing what is right for Minnesota today and in the future," Emmer said. "Our legislative agenda will meet these governing principles. More importantly, they will not bankrupt the state or the taxpayer."

-- 30 --
 
HOUSE REPUBLICANS UNVEIL ANTI-CRIME PACKAGE
LGA DIRECTED TO POLICE & FIRE IN MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL 

ST. PAUL - - The police and fire departments of Minneapolis and Saint Paul would get all state aid to the cities under a plan unveiled today by Minnesota House Republicans.

"The first test of any city is public safety, and our state's largest city - Minneapolis - is failing that test,” said Representative Steve Smith (R-Mound), the lead Republican Member of the House Division on Public Safety. "Minneapolis and Saint Paul need to get their priorities straight. Police and fire are the safeguards of our communities. They must have the resources necessary to keep our cities, streets and families safe."

Under the proposal, all state funds under the Local Government Aid (LGA) program for Minneapolis and Saint Paul would be dedicated by the Minnesota Legislature for strengthening public safety.

"We need more police on the beat, and more boots in the fire stations," Representative Smith said.

Other elements in the Republican anti-crime package included:

NO WELFARE FOR FELONS MOVING TO MINNESOTA:  Republicans would eliminate access to welfare for felons who move to Minnesota from other states or countries.  "We don’t want Minnesota to be a magnet for felons because of its generous public assistance programs," Representative Seifert said.  "We want to safeguard these public funds for the Minnesota citizens who need them."

MANDATORY "LIFE" FOR VIOLENT RAPES OF SENIORS AND KIDS:  In 2005, the Minnesota Legislature created "life without release" sentences for sex offenders who crimes included at least two elements, such as the use of a weapon, torture, kidnapping, more than one victim, more than one perpetrator, intentional infliction of great bodily harm, or exposure to extreme and inhumane conditions.

"The Senate excluded molestation of children under age 13 or seniors over age 70 as aggravating circumstances that could trigger a life sentence," said Representative Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove).  "If someone commits a violent rape against a child or a senior, they should face life without release."

PRISON REQUIRED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WITH SERIOUS INJURIES:  "If there is one place where you should feel safe in Minnesota, it should be in your home," said Representative Paul Kohls (R-Victoria).  "But over 12,000 Minnesotans file for protective orders against domestic violence every year, with 70 percent of victims reporting they had been attacked more than once.  We have to get this under control."

 A 2005 law led to over 1,100 felony prosecutions last year for attempted strangulations in domestic violence cases.  "We have to take the next step," Kohls said.  "If you inflict serious bodily harm in a domestic attack, you should face at least a year in prison.  Domestic beatings lead to family murders."

EXPANDING PUBLIC NOTIFICATION OF SEX OFFENDERS:  Under current law, police are only required to notify the general public when a Level III sex offender is released into a neighborhood.  House Republicans today called for similar notifications regarding Level II offenders, who are an intermediate risk to re-offend. 

"Families have a right to know if a convict guilty of a serious sex offense has moved into their neighborhood," said Representative Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder).  "While some people might complain about the cost of such notifications, we owe it to families when courts grant early releases to serious sex offenders."

HIGHER PENALTIES FOR NEGLECTING VULNERABLE PEOPLE:  Representative Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) will continue her efforts to seek stricter penalties for criminal neglect of the vulernable. "If criminal neglect of a vulnerable child or adult leads to serious bodily harm or death, those responsible should face sterner criminal penalties than someone charged with criminal neglect of an animal," said Representative Joyce Peppin. Peppin said there would exemptions for frivolous claims against workers at hospitals, nursing homes, and similar facilities.

Rep. Smith noted that even though the DFL has large majorities in both the House and Senate, there is a good chance for passage of the GOP proposals.

"Almost half of the House is made up of first and second term members who pledged to seek practical solutions from all sides," Rep. Smith said.  "We can reduce public safety threats in Minneapolis, place tighter controls on sex offenders, and protect people from domestic violence and criminal neglect."

House Republicans said they would seek hearings on the anti-crime proposals as early as next week.

 

-- 30 --

PEPPIN AND SEIFERT CALL FOR NO STATE FUNDS
FOR U OF M GOLDEN PARACHUTES

SAINT PAUL -- (January 9, 2007) -- Representative Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) and House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today introduced legislation to prevent state funds from being used for costs related to contract buyouts at the University of Minnesota.

"While our college students are looking for a Hail Mary pass to help them pay for college, the University of Minnesota is providing millions of dollars to get rid of coaches that failed to do their jobs," said Representative Joyce Peppin.

The legislation is in response to the contract bailouts of the football and men’s basketball coaches at the University of Minnesota. According to media sources, football coach Glen Mason walked away with a $2.2 million buyout, plus $1.4 million in deferred compensation and a $25,000 bowl bonus. Basketball coach Dan Monson received $1.32 million. University of Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi recently said his department will have to borrow money from central administration to pay for the $3.5 million buyout total for both coaches

"The cost of college athletics is spiraling out of control. Bailouts for terminated coaches and multi-million dollar contracts for college sports is a dangerous trend our college students cannot afford," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert.

Seifert said University of Minnesota President Bob Bruinicks recently called the spiraling costs of intercollegiate athletics an unsustainable trend.

"President Bruininks said the University must take control of their own house. We couldn’t agree more. We are asking for the University, the Board of Regents and the Minnesota Legislature to not expend one dime from the state treasury to bailout terminated coaches," Seifert said.

-- 30 --

 

HOUSE REPUBLICANS PROPOSE TUITION FREEZE

SAINT PAUL - (December 28, 2006) - Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives today proposed to freeze tuition at Minnesota's colleges and universities for one year. 

"The best form of financial aid is affordable tuition," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert, "Our plan will help the average student catch up to the skyrocketing costs of tuition they have encountered in earning a college degree." 

Seifert said that huge projected budget deficits led to many tough decisions and that better financial times deserve a new look and new initiatives to help students and workers gain the education and skills they need to meet the demands of a 21st century economy. 

"While we were able to increase base funding during the past two years, tuition has continued to rise," Seifert said. "Our proposal to freeze tuition is supplemented by initiatives that will help students earn college credit, receive job training and lower their share of the financial aid commitment. These combined efforts will help students who want to attend college achieve their highest potential."

In addition to the tuition freeze, House Republicans will bring forward several other higher education proposals including: 

*Provide incentives for colleges and universities to adopt more on-line coursework and degrees.  Currently, many Minnesotans are seeking on-line education from out of state schools like the University of Arizona. 

*Adopt legislation to protect the "College in the Schools" Program. This Post Secondary Enrollment Option for top-achieving students is taught in the high schools, and allows juniors and seniors to receive college credit right inside their classrooms.  Seifert said protecting the program through statute will defuse attempts to administratively undermine the program as has happened in the past. 

*Consolidate job training programs to save money, better serve taxpayers and workers.  Currently, there are over 90 different programs across over 10 different departments of state government.

*Allow student loans to be paid with pre-tax dollars to help highly educated workers with college bills.

Representative Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) and Representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) will lead the Republican initiatives on the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee as its respective lead Republican members.

Seifert said that plan could be paid for out of a combination of efficiencies in the system and the regular higher education appropriation that is expected to be given in the 2007 legislative session.

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SEIFERT DECLARES REPUBLICAN VICTORY IN BUDGET SURPLUS; ADVISES SMART USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

SAINT PAUL - (November 29, 2006) - Calling the nearly $2.2 billion budget surplus a Republican victory, Minnesota House Republican Leader Marty Seifert advised lawmakers to remember the taxpayers when using this surplus and setting budget priorities.

"Our state has a $2.2 billion surplus thanks to the fiscally conservative leadership of House Republicans and Governor Pawlenty over the past two years," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "Turning a $4.5 billion deficit into a two billion surplus took fiscal management of the state’s budget. While the DFL was offering tax increases to resolve the deficit, Republicans made tough decisions, invested in priorities and always kept the taxpayer in mind. The families of Minnesota helped create this surplus and we will continue to lead with prudent decisions to continue to effectively manage the state’s revenues. We will not forget the taxpayer."

The Minnesota Department of Finance November Forecast predicts that the state will have a $1.038 billion surplus on June 30, 2007 when the current biennium ends. Small percentage changes in revenues and expenditures are also projected in fiscal 2008-09, adding another $394 million to the bottom line. At the end of the 2006 legislative session, a $737 million balance had been projected for the end of FY 08-09. The combined changes in the forecast for FY 2006-07 and FY 2008-09 lift the projected balance for the upcoming biennium to $2.17 billion.

"When you are given a boatload of money, you have to keep the drunken sailors off the ship," Seifert said. "Using one-time, nonsustainable revenue for permanent spending will put us back into a deficit or require large tax increases in the future. The taxpayers can’t afford an irresponsible spending spree."

Seifert said he hopes the DFL will use the surplus wisely in setting its budget.

"The revenue surplus is taxpayer money. DFL legislative candidates campaigned on providing property tax relief and as moderates on spending. How they deal with the surplus is their first true test to see if they will keep their word to the taxpayer," Seifert said.

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SEIFERT APPOINTS EMMER AND MCNAMARA TO LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN MINNESOTA HOUSE

 SAINT PAUL - (November 22, 2006) - Minnesota House Republican Leader Marty Seifert today appointed Representative Tom Emmer (R-Delano) as Deputy Minority Leader and Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hasting) as Minority Whip.

"It is an honor to name these two respected representatives to my leadership team," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "Their leadership skills, business and legal experience, knowledge of the process and a desire what is in the best interests of our state are great assets to the House Republican caucus."

Representative Tom Emmer represents District 19B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was first elected in 2004 and has served on the Civil Law and Elections, Health Policy and Finance, and Regulated Industries committees. Emmer, an attorney, lives in Delano with his wife Jackie and their seven children.

"In his first term in public office, Representative Emmer proved himself to be a leader. He stood up for principles, he fought for reform and he helped deliver results," Seifert said.

Representative Denny McNamara represents District 57B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was first elected in 2002 and has served on the Capital Investment, Environment and Natural Resources and Higher Education Finance committees. McNamara, a small business owner, lives in Hastings with his wife Lynne. They have two children.

"Representative McNamara has been a caucus leader in negotiations for the Capital Investment bill. He has the experience, energy and skills needed in a Minority Whip," Seifert said.

The House Republican Caucus will elect three assistant minority leaders at its December caucus.

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SEIFERT ELECTED HOUSE MINORITY LEADER

SAINT PAUL -(November 18, 2006) - The Minnesota House of Representatives Republican Caucus today elected Representative Marty Seifert as Minority Leader.

Seifert, who has served as the majority whip in the Minnesota House since 2001, will lead the 49-member Republican Caucus. His experienced leadership, work ethic, rural values, oratory skills, and knowledge of House rules and parliamentary procedure elevated Seifert over four other candidates.

"I am honored to be elected Minority Leader for the Minnesota House of Representatives,” said Representative Marty Seifert. "My election as minority leader provides the necessary balanced leadership in the Minnesota House. I am thrilled to lead this group of men and women, and look forward to working with Governor Pawlenty and my colleagues across the aisle on moving Minnesota forward in a positive direction."

Seifert said his priorities for the legislative session include providing permanent property tax relief, cutting government waste, promoting a quality education and strengthening the state economy.

"House Republicans are united and stand ready to deliver tax relief, quality education and a stronger economy for Minnesota," Seifert said.

Seifert was recently re-elected to his sixth term. He represents District 21A in southwestern Minnesota which includes all or parts of Lyon and Redwood counties.  In addition to serving as majority whip, Seifert has chaired the state government finance committee and served on the education, ways and means and government operations committees.

Seifert received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Southwest Minnesota State University, and is an admissions counselor at his alma mater. He is a lifelong resident of southwestern Minnesota. He currently resides in Marshall with his wife Traci and their two children.

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PROVEN LEADERSHIP WITH RESULTS
REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP GETS THE JOB DONE

By Minnesota House Speaker Steve Sviggum

Minnesota is on the right track. We lead the nation in key areas such as education with the highest ACT scores and health care with the lowest number of uninsured. For years, we have ranked in the top two most livable states in the nation. Building upon Minnesota's success demands leadership, and Minnesota Republicans have been good stewards of our state government. We've gotten the job done for Minnesota residents and kept our promise to deliver results.

In the Minnesota House, Republican leadership has ushered in an era of economic success with sound fiscal management and innovation. Today our Minnesota economy is experiencing low unemployment and record job growth. Smart decision-making at the state level is imperative to managing this economy. Republican leadership is responsible for turning the state's $4.5 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus, and today we are the beneficiaries of this fiscal responsibility. Forbes Magazine just recently ranked Minnesota the 14th best place to do business. Management of the budget was crucial to job growth and economic development. We got our job done.

When it came to making the most important investment in the future of our state, House Republicans fought for and passed a record 8% increase in K-12 school funding. To ensure education dollars are used wisely and results are rewarded, we invested in the QComp program. We owe it to our children to ensure they receive the best education possible, so House Republicans passed legislation to encourage increased rigor and advanced curriculum in the classroom. We passed a grant program for the expansion of AP and IB courses, and devoted $11.6 million to the "Get Ready, Get Credit" program to provide additional advanced options for high school students. Knowing that our children need to remain globally competitive, we increased the rigor in graduation standards for mathematics. We got our job done.

When it came to improving public safety, House Republicans fought for and passed life without release for the worst of the worst sex offenders. We appropriated money for a new enforcement team to combat internet child pornography. We made it more difficult to obtain essential ingredients for the manufacture of methamphetamines, and passed law to provide more support and information to victims of crime. We got our job done.

On top of these three key areas, we passed mercury reduction law and clean water funding to preserve Minnesota's environment. We passed eminent domain reform to protect private property owners. We invested in transportation with more money being spent on roads, bridges and transit than any time in Minnesota history. We got our job done.

Republican ideals of innovation and accountability are a part of smart policies that ensure Minnesota's success. We've proven we can get the job done. As we move forward, we will continue to work towards real solutions. Republican leadership will build upon our progress with new accountability and innovation that truly addresses the issues that matter to Minnesotans.





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