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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tou Xiong (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 5, 2019

Friday, April 05, 2019

As we head into the last few months of session, we have a lot of work left to do! Here’s an update on the progress we’ve made so far. 
Last week I presented my bill that invests in economic development to serve underserved communities. It provides funding for the Nonprofit Assistance Grant Fund to support infrastructure at small nonprofit organizations that serve historically underserved cultural communities. I’m proud to carry this bill for the Governor that reaffirms our commitment to fair and just inclusion of all Minnesotans, so that all families can prosper. 
Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable
Alec Smith was a 26-year-old from Minneapolis who died in the summer of 2017 because he couldn’t afford $1,200 each month for the insulin he needed to survive. A drug that has been around since the 1920s, and costs less than $5 per vile to produce, should never be out of reach for Minnesotans who depend on it. The DFL caucus has a comprehensive plan to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and put more power in the hands of Minnesotans.
It’s one of the strongest proposals to address the rising cost of prescription drugs in the country. It increases transparency for drug manufacturers, improves public scrutiny of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), leverages the State of Minnesota’s purchasing power to cut health care costs. You can learn more about it from MPR here, and WCCO here.

Minnesota Values Budget 
Every/other year, the legislature passes a budget for the two upcoming years. It’s one of the most important things we’ll do over the coming months. Last week the House announced a framework for our budget that reflects Minnesota’s values and makes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and safe and inclusive communities. If you want to read more about the budget you can do so here and here.

Each House Finance Committee is announcing throughout this week and next which bills will be included in the package of bills they pass all together (called an omnibus bill). Here’s a rundown of some of the major components in the omnibus bills that have been announced so far:
  • The Health and Human Services Committee announced a proposal to lower the cost of health care, address the rising cost of prescription drug prices, increase the quality of coverage, and give patients and their doctors more power over their care.
  • The Early Childhood Committee announced a bill that would make permanent the School Readiness Plus program – preserving access to preschool for 4,000 children; increase investment in early learning scholarships, with a focus on birth to age three; and prevent suspension and expulsion of children from preschool programs.
  • The Veterans and Military Affairs Committee announced a bill that would address veteran homelessness, increase veteran programs and services, and provide ongoing funding for reintegration programs for deployed service members.
  • The Transportation Committee announced a bill that prioritizes better access to transit for Minnesotans who need to get to work, school, the doctor’s office, and engage in civic life. It will also fund investments for our roads and bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers rated Minnesota’s roads as “D+” on their most recent infrastructure report card. Bridges received a “C” and transit was awarded a “C-.” Because of this, the average Minnesotans loses an average of $1,000 each year due to car repairs and lost time. Unless we make these investments, it will only get worse.
I hope this is helpful information and gives you a sense of the work we are doing to improve the lives of Minnesotans. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!
Woodbury Expo
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Woodbury Expo! I was glad for the opportunity to catch up with many of you, talk about the work we’re doing at the state legislature to benefit our community, and even pet a snake!

Tou Xiong
State Representative – District 53A