With the ceremonial first day behind them, Democrats are moving ahead with their legislative agenda. At 1 p.m., House Speaker Paul Thissen, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Assistant Majority Leader Katie Sieben will outline the majority party's vision for the 2013 session.
Later in the afternoon, Democrats will unveil a bipartisan bill to set up a health insurance exchange in Minnesota. The exchange will be an online marketplace where Minnesotans will be able to shop for and compare health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, gives states the option of setting up their own exchange or one set up by the federal government. The effort got little support from Republican lawmakers last session who opposed the federal health care bill.
The bill's sponsors, Rep. Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights and Sen. Tony Lourey of Kerrick, will discuss the legislation. They will be joined by Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Administrative Commissioner Spencer Cronk, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and other state lawmakers.
This year's bill will have at least two Republican co-sponsors — Rep. Greg Davids of Preston and Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka. Davids said he prefers having a state-run exchange versus one run by the federal government.
"If I have a problem, I would rather call 651 than 202," Davids said.