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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Legislative update

Friday, February 22, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

We had another snowy week at the legislature, but nonetheless we were busy doing the people’s work! I hope you have been finding these updates helpful. I want to make the legislative process as accessible to you as possible, and I welcome your feedback.

Continue reading for a brief recap of major events that happened during the past week at the Capitol.

HF 15 Receives Unanimous Approval from Entire Minnesota House

Thursday was a big day for me as I presented my first bill to the entire House of Representatives for a vote. House File 15 gets rid of Minnesota's “marital rape exception,” which prevents prosecution of certain criminal sexual conduct cases if the victim was married to their rapist at the time of the incident.

I am thrilled to tell you that the bill passed unanimously (130-0!). Click here to watch my entire speech prior to the vote, and stay tuned for a major story from the Star Tribune.

To make the moment even more meaningful, Jenny Teeson, a victim who provided testimony in committee about a traumatic experience with this injustice, was present and watching from the gallery. The entire Minnesota House rose to applaud Jenny for her courage immediately after the vote concluded. Jenny and others like her are the inspiration for this bill. We still have to get it through the Senate, but I am hopeful that victims like Jenny will get to see it put into law this year so others never have to go through her same experience ever again.

Recap of Latest Town Hall Meeting

On Wednesday night I held my third town hall meeting of the session at Jackson Middle School. This time, I was joined by Rep. Paul Marquart, Chair of the House Taxes Committee. We hosted a productive discussion about the need for reductions in local property taxes as well as cutting the tax on earned Social Security benefits for middle-class retirees. We also talked about the need to make our tax code simpler and give Minnesotans better information about where specifically their tax dollars are going.

Again, thank you to Representative Paul Marquart and everyone who attended our town hall this week. We had a great turnout, and I was very grateful to hear everyone’s insight. To those who were unable to attend, I will keep you updated on dates for future town halls. I value listening to your stories and addressing your concerns, and I invite you to continue to reach out to me and my office.

Addressing Prescription Drug Price Gouging

I have the honor of serving on the House Commerce Committee. During a public hearing on Thursday, I had the incredible opportunity to act as the committee’s chairman while our regular chairwoman Rep. Laurie Halverson presented a bill in a different committee.

That day, we discussed HF 4, a bill that address Big Pharma’s price gouging of medication that Minnesotans need to stay healthy and in some cases, stay alive. Our committee approved the bill and re-referred it to the House Judiciary and Civil Law Finance Division for its next public hearing. If HF 4 becomes law, it would prohibit drug manufacturers from dramatically increasing the price of drugs for the sake of boosting profits.

Thousands of Minnesotans struggle with health care that they can’t afford. As a result, many people are forced to make dangerous decision, such as rationing life-saving medication like insulin. I encourage you to read the heartbreaking story of Nicole Smith-Holt and James Smith, whose son Alec died when he rationed his unaffordable supply of insulin. Senior citizens living on fixed incomes, who on average have two prescription medications, are significantly impacted by price gouging, too. These Minnesotans are heroes for telling their stories and coming forward to enact meaningful change. 

Stay in Touch

Thank you for your engagement and participation in the law-making process at our State Capitol. Please do not hesitate to share any concerns or questions with me. Listening to and learning from my neighbors is very important to me. Contact me by email or by phone at 651-296-5513.

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Zack Stephenson