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The latest on coronavirus preparedness, insulin affordability, and gun violence prevention

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Rep. Carlson

Dear Neighbors,

The 2020 legislative session began on February 11th, and there is already much good news to report! This week’s email includes updates about insulin affordability legislation, gun violence prevention bills, what our state government is doing to address public health threats like the coronavirus, a new economic forecast, and a preview of this week’s votes on bills that would give everyone access to Paid Family & Medical Leave and Earned Sick & Safe Time. 

If you want to share a question, comment, or idea about the issues highlighted in today’s email, or any cause you’re working on, you can find my full contact information online at www.house.mn/50B. If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who wants to receive updates about the Legislature, let them know they can subscribe to my email list here

I'm honored to serve you at the MN Capitol, and will continue sharing news and updates throughout the 2020 session. 

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Carlson
State Representative 

 

Minnesota House approves insulin affordability bill

For too many families in Bloomington, paying for prescription drugs has gotten harder and harder as pharmaceutical companies drive up costs. One of the most prominent examples is insulin, a drug that diabetics need to stay alive the same way you and I need oxygen. 

On Feb. 26, I voted in support of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which creates a safety net for diabetics in the form of emergency access and long-term affordability. Most importantly, it holds big pharmaceutical companies accountable for indefensible cost hikes by requiring them to contribute financially to a solution. I’m especially proud of my colleague Rep. Michael Howard for authoring the bill and lifting up the voices and stories of Minnesotans who are asking for help. You can watch his introductory remarks about his bill here

For more information, read this Star Tribune story about the vote. 

Minnesota House approves gun violence prevention bills

On Feb. 27, I voted in support of legislation to require criminal background checks on all gun sales and establish extreme risk protection orders. Despite overwhelming support among Minnesotans and bipartisan support in other states, Senate Republicans have so far refused to take action to prevent senseless gun violence.

Criminal background checks on all gun sales are already required in 21 states and the District of Columbia. States that have taken this approach have experienced lower homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and less firearm trafficking.

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) would help keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven to be a danger to themselves or others. This tool allows law enforcement to temporarily restrict access to firearms if a court of law determines that an individual poses a significant danger. ERPO laws have reduced firearm suicides, homicides, and mass shootings in other states, and they are currently in use in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Click here for KARE11’s coverage of the vote.  

Minnesota is well prepared for COVID-19

I am hearing from many Minnesotans who want to know more about what their state government is doing to address the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory illness often referred to as the Coronavirus. First, I want to assure you that Minnesota is well prepared to effectively respond to an outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is in constant contact with the Legislature, hospitals, clinics, and providers.

Click here to visit a webpage with specifics about what’s happening. You can watch a March 2 briefing with MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Governor Tim Walz, and legislative leaders from both parties here

There are currently no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Minnesota, but experts are telling us it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” MDH’s labs are prepared to test patients for the condition. There are basic precautions we can all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. First thing’s first: wash your hands thoroughly. It may seem like common sense, but washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is critical to effectively remove microbiological bacteria. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and be sure to cover your cough with your sleeve or elbow. Lastly, if you’re sick: stay home.

I will share updates and news from MDH about this very serious issue as I receive them. If you or anyone in your community is concerned or seeking more information, please get in touch with my office. You can find my full contact information online at www.house.mn/50B.   

Big votes coming up this Thursday

On Thursday, March 5, the Minnesota House is voting on two important bills that would give everyone access to Paid Family and Medical Leave and Earned Sick and Safe Time. The House approved both bills last year, but did not advance in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

It’s important to continue passing these bills to let Minnesotans know where we stand: I believe no one should have to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of themselves or a family member, whether it’s after the birth of a new baby, helping an aging parent with physical disabilities, or an unexpected accident that could mean bankruptcy for Minnesotans who live paycheck-to-paycheck. 

You can watch live video of the House debate both bills at www.house.mn/live/1 this Thursday starting at 3:30pm. 

New economic forecast released

On Feb. 27, Minnesota Management and Budget released the February Economic Forecast, showing a projected positive balance of $1.5 billion for the current biennium. While the forecast does show a positive balance, it includes inflation on the revenue side and excludes it on the spending side in several key areas. When estimated inflation is taken into account, there is a projected deficit of $654 million in fiscal years 2022-23.  

Down a copy of the entire forecast here and watch House DFL Leadership’s response here.   


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