While we are working under new circumstances, I am still committed to fulfilling my promises. I’m proud that we are continuing to pass legislation that will save lives and make our State more just. Here is what we have made progress on recently.
House Passes Alec Smith Affordability Act
Last week, the House voted to pass the Alec Smith Affordability Act. After many months of negotiations with Republicans, we finally reached a bipartisan consensus on this important legislation. I’m deeply grateful for the tireless advocacy of those who suffered the most at the hands of the pharmaceutical companies, and who kept up the pressure on lawmakers to get this across the finish line. The final version of the bill ensures those who urgently need a supply of insulin can get one and will require pharmaceutical manufacturers – who have made enormous profits off of the drug as its price has skyrocketed – to reimburse pharmacies for these emergency supplies. The legislation also provides relief for those who need assistance on a longer-term basis by requiring drug makers to create a patient assistance program. If they don’t comply, the companies could be fined up to $3.6 million for the first year, doubling in the second year. You can read the legislation here.
While I’m pleased that this compromise delivers overdue help for those who need it, this legislation is not perfect. I am disappointed that the legislation has a strict ID requirement which can potentially leave out some Minnesotans, including those in our immigrant community, tribal members, and some students who don’t possess a driver’s license or state ID card. My House colleagues and I remain committed to ensuring everyone has access to health care they can afford, including lower prescription drug prices.
House Passes Further COVID-19 Legislation
We also approved another package of legislation to aid in the state’s response to COVID-19 – the fourth since the pandemic emerged – which contains several proposals to provide needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill helps Minnesotans execute wills, allows local governments to meet remotely, suspends certain deadlines and expiration dates, allows marriage applications to be submitted without the need to appear in person, expands use of telemedicine, gives the Department of Health authority to set up alternative health care facilities, and more. The legislation can be found here.
Governor Walz Opens Some Activities
Governor Walz signed an executive order aimed at easing some of the strain of the stay at home order. This order will allow Minnesotans to engage in a range of activities, including golfing, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking, as long as they follow outdoor recreation guidelines. These guidelines include maintaining 6-foot social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, and staying close to home. COVID-19 cases are still increasing and we are far from being out of the woods. So please stay safe if you are going to partake in these activities. Other facilities that may reopen or remain open include:
Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.
As the weather starts to get nicer I hope you can find some time to get outside and enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer.
I wish you all a happy and healthful Earth Day on this 50th anniversary. It can be easy to forget that we are still facing a global climate crisis that must be addressed with as much urgency as the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take this Earth Day to remember that we still need to take a lot of action on climate change. I encourage you to take this beautiful spring day to appreciate our environment and consider some personal steps you can take to help it out. One of the biggest steps you can take is to commit to supporting politicians who recognize this crisis and want to use their position to implement pro-environment solutions. I hope this is a factor you consider when we head to the polls in November.
A few of my colleagues had an opportunity to interview Vice President Walter Mondale to reflect on his experience voting as a U.S. Senator to establish it. Listen to the conversation on YouTube here.
Stay in Touch
Now more than ever if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. As always, you can reach me at (651) 296-4255 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!