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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 10, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

THIS WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE

This week the legislature continued with our conference committees to work out differences in our budget bills. At the same time, we passed several provisions in the House that will help all Minnesotans and convened a Joint Convention on Regents to elect regents to govern the University of Minnesota.

JOINT CONVENTION ON REGENTS

The legislature convened a Joint Convention on Regents and elected four new members to the board: Janie Mayeron (Fifth Congressional District seat), Mike Kenyanya (student seat), Kao Ly Ilean Her and Mary Davenport (both At-Large seats).

The Minnesota Constitution requires that 12 regents be elected by a joint convention of the Minnesota Legislature to staggered six-year terms to govern the University of Minnesota. Minnesota law specifies that eight of the 12 regents must reside in Minnesota’s congressional districts, one in each district. The four remaining regents are elected from the state at-large. Minnesota law also requires one of the four at-large regents to be a University of Minnesota student at the time of the election.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

HOUSING POLICY CHANGES

The Housing policy bill contains provisions that strengthen tenant’s rights and ensure mutuality in their relationship with their landlords; modify expungements for evictions cases; and require longer affordability for state financed housing projects.

We have provisions requiring certain information be disclosed in leases to bring a greater level of balance to the power dynamic of that relationship and ensure that tenants cannot be taken advantage of. We have clarifications of move out/move in dates and a requirement to prorate rent accordingly to ensure that tenants get what they pay for and don’t have unexpected gaps in their housing.

We modified expungements for evictions cases to help ensure that renters who have struggled in the past do not continue to face barriers to secure housing. We give courts the discretion to order the expungement of an eviction upon findings that a conviction case is no longer a reasonable predictor of future behavior. It would also establish a rebuttable presumption in favor of granting an expungement if the eviction file is at least three years old and would add the following reasons for requiring the court to order an expungement:

  • The defendant prevailed in the case on the merits
  • The court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint
  • The parties have agreed to an expungement
  • Upon motion of the defendant, the case is settled and the defendant fulfills the terms of the settlement

We also expanded a statute that allows the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) to impose rent and/or income restrictions as a requirement to receiving agency funding. Developers who receive assistance or enter into agreements with the agency have to keep their units affordable for at least 30 years. This would apply to any multifamily rental housing development that receives low-income housing tax credits or funding from or that enters into a financing or grant agreement with MHFA.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

ELDER AND VULNERABLE ADULTS PROTECTION ACT

The Minnesota House passed the Elder and Vulnerable Adults Protection Act to address the number of maltreatment complaints that have grown exponentially in recent years. The bill prioritizes proper care and protections for people who rely on care facilities. We have new licensing requirements to protect the public and other vulnerable residents. We require each facility to have someone oversee care services so care follows the resident and they are not solely responsible for tracking their care plan. The bill also bans deceptive marketing by requiring a full and clear explanation of services and all of the associated costs prior to admission.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

RELIEF FOR ARGOSY UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

The Minnesota House passed a bill that addresses the recent closure of Argosy University and the resulting negative impacts on students who attended the school. This bill will allow former Argosy students to be relieved of the student loans that they took out for the spring 2019 semester, and students who withdrew during the semester will also be eligible for assistance. This bill also requires a report from the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to the legislature with suggested legislative action to prevent future school closures and provide additional assistance to students affected by school closures.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

LICENSE AND REGULATE PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS (PBMS)

We also passed a bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs by regulating, requiring transparency from, and creating fiduciary responsibilities for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which serve as pharmaceutical middle men. PBMs are a middle man between drug manufacturers and pharmacies, developing and maintaining lists of covered drugs (formularies) that they offer to pharmacies. Drug manufacturers give PBMs rebates – or kickbacks – to encourage the PBM to place their product on the formulary, with no guarantee that the rebate will be passed on to consumers. Higher rebates incentivize PBMs to remove less expensive drugs from formularies, and encourage companies to raise list prices. All of this raises the price of prescription drugs.  As of 2016, the three largest PBMs (Express Scripts, CVS Health, and OptumRx) accounted for 78% of the market and impacted the health care of 180 million enrollees.

Regulating PBMs is necessary because they lack transparency, treat different entities differently, and cause prescription drug prices to rise.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

TASK FORCE ON MISSING & MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN

The Minnesota House unanimously passed a bill to create a task force to advise the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and report to the Legislature on ways to reduce and end violence against indigenous women and girls in Minnesota. The report to the Legislature, which is due December 15, 2020, must 1) describe policies and practices that are effective for increasing safety for indigenous women and girls, and 2) make recommendations for improvements in MN.

The task force would have a total of 22-25 members, including include two members each from the Senate and House, various law enforcement officials, 11 representatives from the 11 Minnesota tribes, and survivors of gender violence. The task force would expire December 31, 2020.

You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.

JORDAN WEEK OF KINDNESS 2019 – JUNE 1

Please join the Jordan Area Community Council and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity to celebrate the Jordan neighborhood on Saturday, June 1, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event location is on Russell Ave N between 26th and 29th Ave.

The Jordan Week of Kindness 2019 features:

  • Local food and entertainment
  • Habitat homes open houses and lunch
  • Housing resource fair
  • Free mammograms from Park Nicollet, Blood Lead Testing for Children (Leadie Eddie)
  • Zumba Class with Elite Noir and
  • 30 more organizations

 

I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Also, I am available during select hours on Monday and Friday mornings most weeks for in-district meetings, if Northside residents aren’t able to make it to the Capitol. If you would like to send me a message or set up an in-district meeting, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4262 or by email at rep.fue.lee@house.mn. I look forward to hearing from you!

Somali language e-update sign up page: http://eepurl.com/gjxKHH

Hmong language e-update sign up page: http://eepurl.com/gjxCHH

Spanish language e-update sign up page: http://eepurl.com/gjxIaf