SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House approved a bill to distribute the $300 million Minnesota is expected to receive from the National Opioid Settlement which Minnesota signed onto last summer. In 2020, a record 678 Minnesotans died as a result of an opioid overdose. Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth), who has worked to tackle the opioid crisis nearly her entire time in the Legislature, is the chief author of the bill.
“Tragic deaths as a result of opioid overdoses continue to be a crisis in our state, with the epidemic unfortunately getting worse,” Rep. Olson said. “This legislation will enable cities, counties, Tribal governments, and the state to use funding from this historic settlement effectively and efficiently to continue combating the crisis as quickly as dollars come in. We were all thrilled to see accountability last year in the form of a significant settlement with drugmakers, and now, we can bolster our efforts to prevent senseless tragedies and heartbreak due to this crisis.”
The settlement required states to reach an agreement with local governments on certain terms. The Association of Minnesota Counties, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the State of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement – reflected in the bill – calling for counties and cities to receive 75% of settlement funds with 25% going to the state.
In 2019, Rep. Olson was the chief author of landmark legislation to combat the opioid crisis, generating revenue from registration fees from opioid manufacturers. The bill included a sunset provision, ending the fees once the state receives $250 million from settlement agreements combined with opiate fees. Among other updates to the previous legislation, the bill the House passed today pushes the earliest sunset date from 2024 to 2031.
The 2019 legislation created the Opiate Epidemic Response Advisory Council (“OERAC”) to award grants for prevention and education, training, expansion and enhancement of the continuum of care for opioid-related substance use disorders, and development of measures to maintain the quality of life for people experiencing chronic pain or at the end of life.
The Senate previously approved the bill, which now goes to Governor Walz who is expected to sign it into law.