Rep. Brian Johnson, Cambridge
I recently joined two dozen other legislators in attending the Commissioning of the USS Minnesota, the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced nuclear powered submarine. We traveled to Norfolk, Va. on our own dime to be part of this historical event Sept. 9 because Minnesota hasn’t had a ship named after us in over 100 years.
During the ceremony, the ship’s 135-member crew brought the ship to life — ready to defend our country whenever necessary. The Minnesota is the third ship to carry the name of the “North Star State.” The previous USS Minnesota was commissioned during President Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency in 1906 as part of Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet.” The first was a wooden steam frigate during the Civil War, shortly after Minnesota became a state.
We also toured other vessels during our visit, such as the USS Arlington, commissioned just this year. The Arlington is one of three vessels commissioned by the Navy to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks; the other two are the USS New York and Somerset. Steel taken from the 2001 attacks at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. is displayed onboard the Arlington. The ship’s internal walkways are adorned with 184 stars, commemorating each live lost at the Pentagon Sept. 11.
As elected officials, we’ve also been busy overseeing the implementation of Obamacare in Minnesota through a new state health insurance exchange called MNsure.
You may have seen TV or radio advertisements for MNsure. They are spending more than $9 million in taxpayer dollars to advertise this new online portal where citizens can get Obamacare health insurance coverage options.
The agency has had several concerning problems in the last few weeks. MNsure isn’t scheduled to open until Oct. 1, but they’ve already had a major privacy violation that resulted in 2,400 Minnesotans’ social security numbers being compromised.
In addition, several million dollars were allocated for dozens of interest groups to help recruit people to participate in the exchange, and the process for these grant decisions has come under serious criticism. I’ve joined others in asking for the opening of this new agency to be postponed until further investigation can be done by state officials, including the legislative auditor.
Please also take a look at this recent article which outlines some new taxes on thousands of Minnesota’s working families. Because tax conformity wasn’t passed by Democrats in St. Paul last spring, new taxes on student loan interest, married couples, foreclosed homes, child care services and even adoption services will take effect. If no action is taken to correct these by next year, many will find an unpleasant reality when they go to file their taxes.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in St. Paul. I can be reached at 651-296-4346 or 800-341-5897, or by email at [email protected]