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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nels Pierson (R)

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Legislative Update (February 1, 2019)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

With the extreme temperatures we felt this week, I hope you were able to stay safe and warm. After overnight lows nearing 30 below zero, high temperatures of 40 degrees this weekend will be a welcome taste of spring. As this week wraps up, here is an update with some news from the legislature.

Opioid Legislation

Wednesday was Opioid Awareness Day at the Capitol. In last week’s update I talked about the need to put forth solutions to Minnesota’s growing opioid crisis and the devastating effects it continues to have on communities around the state. In the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on Wednesday, we held a hearing on legislation aimed at addressing this crisis. This is such an important issue and I am pleased we are beginning to grapple with it in committee.

The proposed legislation would establish an Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council to provide funding and deliver grants focusing on education, intervention, treatment, training, and prevention strategies. This bill would fund a lot of good programs that I believe would make a difference in our state’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

However, I have some very serious concerns with the way this bill would generate the money that the advisory council would use to fund these programs. Funding for the advisory council’s grants would come from registration fees – totaling $20 million – on opioid manufacturers and wholesalers. My concern is that these fees will increase the price of opioids, passing the costs along to the already sick consumers who need these drugs for legitimate reasons following surgeries and because of various conditions. These patients are often facing already mounting medical bills and I don’t believe it’s fair to increase the price of their medication and make them foot the bill for these programs.

I think it is also important to note that more than 90% of opioids prescribed and sold are generics. Thus, this fee will largely affect the generic manufacturers, not the pharmaceutical companies that some people accuse of originally creating the opioid crisis.

Again, this is an issue of critical importance that needs to be addressed this year. Although I am opposed to generating funding through a licensing fee that will be passed on to patients, I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues to hopefully produce better legislation to address this crisis.

Transparency Concerns

I continue to have concerns with the lack of transparency the new Democrat House majority has displayed this session. Their new committee structure sets the table for moving bills through the process with little to no warning, giving citizens and the public less than 24 hour notice of when a bill hearing is to take place. The change is especially problematic for people in rural parts of the state who need fair warning to get to St. Paul for a legislative hearing.

In addition, this week the opioid legislation mentioned above was introduced less than 48 hours before it was to receive a hearing in a committee. This gave legislators less than 24 hours to draft amendments to try to improve the bill and more importantly, gave the people of Minnesota very little notice that the hearing was happening. Again, this especially impacts people in greater Minnesota who want to track legislation and come to the Capitol to make their voices heard by testifying in a committee. With a bill as important as one addressing the opioid crisis, I believe it is imperative that we include as many voices from across the state in the conversation to make sure that the legislature produces the best possible reforms. This particular bill will impact a lot of people and we owe it to Minnesotans to give them enough notice to know what’s in the bill and make the trip to the Capitol.

I remain frustrated and concerned with the direction the new majority is headed in this area and will do my best to keep you updated on any developments.

ABATE Day at the Capitol

I had the opportunity on Wednesday to sit down with some motorcyclists who were visiting the Capitol for ABATE’s annual Biker Day at the Capitol. We discussed motorcycle safety and the issues facing bikers on our roads. Thanks to everyone for making the trip in the cold!

Please Contact Me

If you have any questions or thoughts on any legislative issue, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4378 or by email at

Have a great weekend,

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