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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 12, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I hope you're having a great week! There’s a lot happening at the Capitol these days – here’s a quick recap on the big developments.
Minnesotans have come forward to share powerful stories about the high – and rising – cost of Insulin and other pharmaceutical drugs. We need to hold big pharma accountable for prescription drug price-gouging. Last year 26-year-old Alec Smith died because he was forced to ration his monthly supply of insulin. After getting off his parents’ health insurance, he could no longer pay the $1,300. Minnesotans simply should not die because they can’t afford health care. The House DFL has a comprehensive plan to address the cost of insulin. It includes:
The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act (HF 485) allows Minnesotans who are unable to afford their insulin to get their prescription filled in emergencies. It also authorizes pharmacies to fill a temporary supply of insulin for patients whose prescription is out-of-date. Reimbursements for pharmacies would be paid through a fee on Big Pharma insulin manufacturers.
HF 289 is authored by Rep. Alice Mann, a physician. The bill improves drug price transparency by requiring manufacturers of prescription drugs needed to treat diabetes, such as insulin, to publicly report any changes to their prices and provide justification for doing so.
HF 288 prohibits health insurers from pulling the rug out from under patients by removing coverage of insulin or equipment and supplies during an enrollee's contract year.
HF 284 authorizes the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health to review and determine whether manufacturers of insulin are forcing excessive cost increases upon Minnesotans. When necessary, reimbursements would be provided to Minnesotans who need insulin to stay alive.
You can read more from WCCO here.
Help America Vote Act
This week and last week the Minnesota House and Senate have been meeting in a joint conference committee to reconcile differences between our funding proposals for Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding.

I have been working to secure the full $6.6 million in funding to secure our elections and modernize our voting system, as all 49 other states have. The Senate has stubbornly refused to appropriate these funds, even though the money will sit, unused, if we do not appropriate it. I’m hopeful that we will make progress toward safe, secure elections rather than showing bad actors and hackers that we are not taking the appropriate steps to prevent attacks on our elections.

Protecting Working Families
Everyone deserves the opportunity to earn a living so they can support themselves and their families. I have co-authored several pieces of legislation to help Minnesotans get and stay ahead, while being safe on the job. The proposals include legislation to:
  • Require overtime pay for every hour over 40 hours/week, rather than 48 hours (HF 2274).
  • Incorporate construction and skilled trades into career counseling services for students. Career advice should identify high-growth, in-demand skilled trades with salary information, and information on the credentials needed. For students talented in the skilled trades, there are many career options that provide a good living without putting students into insurmountable debt (HF1915).   
  • Urge the President to continue Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) for Liberians – many of whom have been here for many years – rather than deport the estimated 30,000 citizens who are working and living in Minnesota (HF 1811)
House Votes 
Minnesota women deserve equal rights in all aspects of life. All Minnesotans should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender. That’s why House DFLers approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ballot question to let Minnesotans decide whether or not to give everyone full equality under our Constitution. The Republican-controlled Senate is now responsible for determining whether voters will have that opportunity in 2020.

Governor Tim Walz on March 5 signed the first bills of the 2019 session into law. This milestone is the result of bipartisan compromise between Republicans, DFLers, and the Governor. I am proud that even in the nation’s only divided state Legislature, lawmakers can work together to get things done regardless of which political party they belong to.
The Pioneer Press covered the story here.
As always, please reach out if you have any questions or comments.
Michael Nelson
State Representative – District 40A