I’m devastated by the senseless shootings that occurred in the Atlanta area this week resulting in the tragic deaths of eight people. Targeted bias against our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is on the rise, and we must condemn and speak out against hate, discrimination, and bias. During this difficult time, we need to lift up AAPI neighbors and recognize that everyone deserves to be safe in their communities, no matter where they live or what they look like.
This session, I moved into a pair of new leadership roles in the Minnesota House of Representatives as Deputy Majority Leader and Speaker Pro Tempore. The Duluth News Tribune recently published a story about these new responsibilities and how my background has equipped me to navigate the halls of government.
I’m grateful for the trust I’ve earned in Saint Paul and the relationships I’ve been able to build on both sides of the aisle to help deliver results for our community and strengthen opportunities for all Minnesotans. People deserve a state government that will help build a Minnesota that works better for everyone, and this session I’m committed to ensuring everyone can weather this pandemic and thrive when it ends.
Minnesota continues to make significant progress in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Governor Walz announced more Minnesotans are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine following the arrival of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose version. We still have more demand than supply, but we’re continuing to speed up the distribution of the vaccine. If you haven’t yet, sign up for the state’s Vaccine Connector to get connected with opportunities once you’re eligible. It’s extremely inspiring seeing so many people get their shots, and each vaccine is one step closer to ending this pandemic.
Last week, the governor announced that some business, activity, and gathering would be updated to ease restrictions in light of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths trending downward. Many in our community are still vulnerable though, and we can’t lose sight of that. While we look forward to a summer with backyard barbecues, baseball games, and other activities with family and friends, right now we need to continue taking the steps necessary to protect one another like social distancing, wearing a mask around others, and getting tested if we need to.
Last year, lawmakers passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, named for a Minnesotan in urgent need of a 30-day supply of affordable insulin should visit MNinsulin.org to see if they’re eligible and learn how to apply. Named after a 26-year-old Minnesotan who died after rationing his insulin because he couldn’t afford to refill his prescription, the law allows eligible individuals in urgent need of insulin to go to their pharmacy once in a 12-month period and receive a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. The long-term program requires manufacturers to provide insulin to eligible individuals for up to one year, available in 90-day increments for a co-pay of no more than $50.
Despite the way in which it helps Minnesotans, pharmaceutical companies have been fighting the new law in court. Fortunately, earlier this week a judge sided with Minnesotans in dismissing a lawsuit to invalidate the law. House DFLers and I are committed to putting people’s health ahead of pharmaceutical industry profits, and we will keep advancing solutions to ensure all Minnesotans can have access to the lifesaving medications they need.
Please reach out to me with your input, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.