We are at about the midway point of the 2019 legislative session and committees continue to work hard to make sure bills are heard before the second committee deadline on Friday. While much of our work has been in committee, there were a handful of bills that came to the floor for a vote this week.
One such bill was House File 400. This bill is the legislature’s response to the opioid epidemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Minnesotans the past several years. My heart breaks for the families that have lost loved ones due to this horrible epidemic.
Unfortunately, I was unable to support HF 400 because of concerns I have with the bill’s funding mechanism. My opposition has little to do with the reforms included in the bill. In fact, I believe the initiatives in the bill can save lives. However, I believe that the licensing fee the bill places on manufacturers will cause health care and drug prices to rise for folks that need these drugs for legitimate purposes.
Further, because of the way the funding mechanism is structured, it would take 1.5 years to get the dollars for these new programs and initiative to the folks that need the help. If this is the crisis that we all believe it is, we cannot wait another 18 months.
Instead, we should have used general fund dollars to finance the bill. That way, we could have gotten the funding to the folks that need it immediately, instead of having to wait.
Just last year, we passed legislation that provided millions of dollars to combat opioid addiction. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill.
I am disappointed that I was unable to support the bill in its current form, but am hopeful that we will have a different funding mechanism when the legislation comes back from conference committee. One thing we can all agree on—Minnesota is facing an opioid epidemic that needs to be addressed.
Staying in Touch
That’s all for this week’s update. I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at email@example.com.
Thanks and have a good weekend,