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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 17, 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
With just a few days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, Governor Walz and legislative leaders are working on an overall budget agreement, while joint House/Senate conference committees are preparing to reconcile the many differences between budget bills passed by each body. I’m honored to serve on the Higher Ed. conference committee. Once our target is agreed to, I’ll work to ensure we pass a higher education budget that gives all Minnesotans an opportunity to go to college or enter career training without taking on massive debt.
I was recently visited by Lisa Lewis and Maureen Kostial, two community members who are alumni of the University of Minnesota, sharing their support for the U of M.


Pharmacy Benefit Managers

This session we have had bipartisan recognition that in order to improve health care quality and reduce costs, we need more transparency and oversight over Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Currently, PBMs can switch drugs whenever they get a higher rebate – sometimes several times a year – which means doctors have to change patients’ prescriptions to medications that may be more expensive and often are less effective. I am very happy to say that both the House and Senate have now approved HF 728. This bill gives the state Dept. of Commerce licensing authority of PBMs and requires them to notify health carriers whenever an activity presents a conflict of interest and to look out for the financial interests of their customers by seeking out deals that provide the lowest price. I expect Gov. Walz to sign this bill into law soon.

Protecting Health Care


Over 27 years ago, a bipartisan group of legislators with a Republican Governor developed MinnesotaCare. This service has ensured that low-income working Minnesotans have an opportunity to access affordable, quality health care. It’s funded through the Minnesota Health Care Access Fund, which also funds Medical Assistance coverage and innovations in health care delivery. The revenue source for the Health Care Access Fund, a two-percent tax on health care providers, is due to expire this year. The House DFL Health and Human Services budget extends this critical funding source.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have indicated they want to let this funding disappear and haven’t proposed a replacement. Senate leaders have gone so far as to say protecting this funding is “off the table.” If this happens, care for 1.2 million Minnesotans will be in jeopardy. Not only is this the wrong approach with regard to health care for people, but letting this funding expire would leave a sizable hole in our state budget. I am working to ensure all Minnesotans can access affordable, quality care and protecting the Health Care Access Fund is a significant piece of this work.

Gun Violence Prevention

This week, the Public Safety conference committee discussed a pair of measures to prevent senseless gun violence. One would expand criminal background checks prior to gun sales, and another would provide for “red flag” laws which would allow law enforcement officials to temporarily restrict access to firearms if a court of law determines someone may pose a threat to themselves or others.
Each of these measures carries the support of as many as 90% of Minnesotans. That’s why it was profoundly disappointing to watch each Republican on the committee vote no, defeating the legislation in a 5-5 vote. Minnesotans have been waiting too long for solutions to keep people safe. Their voices must continue to be heard until these common-sense changes are enacted.

Argosy University Relief

In March, students of Argosy University – a for-profit institution with a campus in Eagan – were left in limbo when the school suddenly shut down. This left students not just with an uncertain future regarding their educational pursuits, but also with an uncertain financial outlook from student loan debt.
The Minnesota House and Senate approved bipartisan legislation giving the state Office of Higher Education (OHE) the authority to release Argosy students from liability for any Minnesota SELF loans for the spring 2019 semester and pay them directly for other state financial aid. The state is also seeking to recoup money held for Minnesota students that is in receivership in Ohio Federal Court.
This is another good example of the bipartisan work we can do to address problems facing Minnesotans.

Elder Abuse

The Star Tribune published a series of stories in 2017 highlighting assault, abuse, neglect and other reprehensible behavior in Minnesota’s senior care facilities. Shortly thereafter, AARP Minnesota convened an Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup to develop solutions. One problem quickly identified was that Minnesota is the only state in the country that doesn’t require assisted living facilities to be licensed

Last week, the House approved HF 90, a package of strong reforms protecting seniors and vulnerable adults in Minnesota’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In addition to licensure of assisted living facilities, the bill allows residents to have a camera in their living space, bans deceptive marketing practices, and clarifies what rights residents and family members have when abuse or maltreatment occurs.

Minnesota seniors and vulnerable adults deserve to live with dignity and in safe environments. A consensus has been reached between senior advocates and industry representatives, and I’m hopeful the Senate will take action on the measure soon.
With the end of the session approaching, I hope you’ll keep tabs on what’s happening in Saint Paul. Minnesota House Public Information Services offers many resources including livestreaming of floor sessions and committee meetings, a YouTube channelSession Daily – a recap of Capitol activity every day delivered via email, and Facebook and Twitter accounts with timely news and info.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.
Laurie Pryor
State Representative