Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week was National Police Week and Wednesday was Peace Officers Memorial Day. These occasions represent opportunities for all of us to express our gratitude for our law enforcement officers and to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our communities.
With just days until the legislature must adjourn, an agreement on how to fund state government for the next two years still has not been reached. I fear this means a special session is now unavoidable. (For the record, lawmakers don’t get paid “extra” for special session. We all would prefer to have our work completed by Monday.)
I continue to be disappointed by the lack of progress in negotiations, especially because a major holdup is the governor and Democrats’ unwillingness to change course on their proposed $12 billion tax increases.
As I wrote earlier this week, Minnesota has already collected $3 billion more in tax revenues than last biennium. That means that state spending could increase by 7.3% without any new tax revenue. A 7.3% increase in the budget is well above inflation and should be enough of an increase in the growth of government. Yet the governor and the Democrats still want $12 billion in additional tax hikes. The money our state already has is enough to fund our shared priorities – education, transportation, public safety and healthcare – without raising taxes.
Meanwhile, the House has been in session each day this week, debating and passing smaller, individual bills. We are continuing to work this weekend, as we wait to hear if the majority leaders in both the House and Senate and the governor have reached an agreement on the budget.
Pharmacy Benefits Manager Bill
I’d like to end on a positive note and let you know about a groundbreaking piece of legislation. Reducing the cost of healthcare remains one of my priorities as a legislator, and as you know I serve on the Health and Human Services Finance committee. Addressing the high cost of prescription drugs is an important, bipartisan issue that we have been working on all session and I’m happy to share that we have taken one step forward in that direction. This week we passed a Pharmacy Benefit Manager licensing bill that will help control the cost of prescription medications. The bill will improve the oversight of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) by requiring PBMs operating in Minnesota to be licensed by the Commerce Department. This would allow the state to impose requirements in areas including network adequacy and transparency, and will eliminate the pharmacy gag clauses. It also enables pharmacists to substitute more affordable alternative medications on behalf of patients and allows patients to synchronize their medication fill dates once a year without cost. Under this new law the common PBM strategy of “clawing back” dollars from local pharmacies and utilizing rebates for their own self-interest will end. I believe all of these reforms are important steps to keep prescription medication costs in check, and I look forward to the governor signing the bill into law.
Staying in Touch
If you ever have questions or concerns regarding any issue, please contact me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.
Talk to you soon,