As we’ve just passed the halfway point of the legislative session, I’m continuing to take action to improve the lives of Minnesotans and build a state that works better for all of us. Part of this is my commitment to promoting safe and healthy communities and last night, we passed a pair of bills to do just that.
Ending the Opioid Crisis
Too many lives have been lost in communities across our state due to the opioid crisis. Just yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Health issued new figures showing deaths caused by opioid overdoses increased for the seventh consecutive year. Addiction has meant staggering amounts of heartbreaking tragedies for families, and these Minnesotans who have lost loved ones have been calling for solutions.
Last night, many of these Minnesotans joined us in the House Chamber as we passed HF 400 which will create an Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council, charged with recommending comprehensive strategies for prevention, education, treatment, and recovery. These will be funded by an Opioid Stewardship Fund, resources for which will come from fees assessed on drug makers and distributors. I’m proud to be a co-author of this bill which will deliver a message to families and communities that there is hope after addiction and that as we work together to end this crisis, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Requiring Hands-Free Cell Use
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe on our roads and highways. For many drivers though, safety often takes a back seat to a smartphone, and this puts lives in jeopardy. One in five crashes in Minnesota comes as a result of a distracted driver, and this has resulted in an average of over 50 deaths each year. It’s long past time for the Legislature to pass the bill to require any phone calls to be made in hands-free mode, and the House approved it last night. According to WCCO’s latest Reality Check, other states to go “hands-free” have experienced reductions in crashes and lives lost.
It was incredibly disappointing that this measure didn’t get across the finish line last year under the previous legislative leadership. I thank the brave Minnesotans who inspired my DFL colleagues to make this a priority this year.