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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

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Legislative Update- March 27, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
Spring is finally here! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
Here’s an update from St. Paul:

‘Hands-Free’ Approved in House & Senate

Minnesotans deserve to be safe on our roads, crosswalks, bike paths and sidewalks, and we want our friends, neighbors, and loved ones to be safe, too. That’s why the Minnesota House on Monday, March 18 approved the hands-free cell phone bill with my support as a co-sponsor by an overwhelming margin of 106-21. The Minnesota Senate passed their version of the bill this week with broad bipartisan support of 56-10. Both chambers now meet in a conference committee to reconcile differences to approve one final bill for the Governor’s signature.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

You may have caught one of the national headlines this week regarding the Purdue Pharma $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma. This is just a sliver of the billions these pharmaceutical companies and distributers have made from their role in the opioid crisis. We can’t ignore the alarming statistics in Minnesota: In 2017, more than 400 Minnesotans died as a result of opioid overdoses and deaths have been on the rise for the past seven years. I voted in favor of House File 400, which increases an existing fee on opioid manufacturers and distributors to finance annual prevention and treatment services.

Health Care Pricing Transparency

Before the session even started, I reached out to Republican Senator Scott Jensen, a physician from Carver County, to let him know that I’d be an ally on his initiatives to improve the transparency of health care pricing. One of our bills will require outpatient clinics to disclose any fees related to the use of the clinic’s facilities to the patient before any procedures are performed there. Patients have been surprised to find these hidden fees on their bills, after the fact, and, they’re not always covered by insurance. This bill passed the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, today, and is headed to the House floor. This bill has already passed the Senate 63-0 and I’m optimistic about its passage in the House.

Capitol Visitors

It was timely to have nurses from our community come to visit the Capitol. They were advocating for legislation supporting workplace safety in hospitals. I’ll be a co-author on Rep Stephenson’s bill (HF 1398) which addresses this issue.

House Majority Announces Framework for Minnesota Values Budget

House DFL lawmakers announced a framework for the Minnesota Values Budget this week. The budget makes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and safe communities to build a Minnesota that works better for everyone. In the coming weeks, committee chairs will start to compile their broader omnibus bills working from this framework. I’ll keep you updated on the components of these bills as we move forward.

Keep in Touch

Please contact me anytime with questions, comments or ideas. Your feedback is invaluable and I appreciate hearing from you.
Steve Elkins
State Representative
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