I hope winter is treating you well and that you’ve been weathering the cold and snow safely. Here’s a quick update on the big things I’ve been working on.
As the opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across our state, I am committed to working with legislators to find a solution. Too many Minnesotans’ lives have been touched by the harmful effects of this epidemic. We need more funding for overdose prevention, and we need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable as we work to end this epidemic.
As Opioid Legislation continues to move through committees, I am hopeful that we can make positive change this session. One bill that was discussed last week was HF 400. This is a bipartisan bill that would form an advisory council and provide money towards social services and prevention efforts. While this does not solve all of the problems associated with the opioid epidemic, it takes significant steps forward in solving to several problems.
In 2016, almost 400 people died as a result of opioid overdose, and since then the number has continued to increase. Finding a solution to this crisis is urgent, and I hope my colleagues will support this bill.
School districts across our state are facing budget cuts and increasing class sizes. The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District alone is facing $6.6 million in budget cuts. I support fully funding our schools so all students in our community can have access to a great education. I have signed on to a bill which would increase the general funding formula for our schools.
I have also been hearing from students and members of the community about concerns over funding for the University of Minnesota. I support making significant and smart investments in the core mission of our state’s public higher education systems, but I believe everyone deserves to have access to a high-quality and affordable education. As you may know, Gov. Tim Walz will be unveiling a set of budget recommendations by February 19, and higher education funding will be a major part of the discussion.
As always, I take your concerns to heart. I support the mission and the resources that the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities provide, and I hope to work with other legislators to make plans for fair and reasonable investments in it.
My bill to ban the harmful pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy just crossed its first hurdle – it was passed by the Health and Human Services committee. Although the practice contains the word “therapy,” there is nothing therapeutic about it. I’m glad the State Legislature is taking this issue seriously – Minnesota’s commitment to the highest standard of health care should extend to all Minnesotans. There is no scientific evidence supporting this harmful practice and it has no place in good governance and sound health care policy.
Rep. Cantrell with supporters of the bill to ban conversion therapy
There are still new cases of HIV and AIDS every year. My bill would provide grant funding for HIV prevention – it passed the Health and Human Services committee, and I am hopeful that it will be voted on by the House soon.
I am working on a bill to increase pharmaceutical price transparency, and will provide updates once I’ve introduced it. Too many Minnesotans struggle with skyrocketing drug prices, and this bill would be one way to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.
Last week we saw some exciting advances in efforts to tackle climate change. As Minnesotans, we are lucky to live in a state with such abundant parks, lakes, and natural beauty. But, our weather is becoming more extreme, and we are starting to experience irreversible damage to our state’s climate. We need to make changes soon if we want to prevent further damage. This is why bills like HF 700 are important. The bill was heard for the first time last week, and it is starting to move through committees. If passed, it would increase the proportion of energy that must come from renewable sources and set target dates for when these goals need to be achieved by power companies. Minnesota is blessed with many renewable resources, and investing in them would create jobs and slow down climate change.
I’m also working on a bill to reduce social security tax liability, which passed the tax committee this morning. This bill would provide relief for middle and low income seniors and help lower poverty among retirees by increasing Social Security checks for those who qualify.
I’ve also chief-authored bipartisan bills that would:
- Create a grant program for the mobile food shelf Hunger Solutions, so unserved and underserved members of our community can access some of the basic resources they need
- Increase support for affordable housing for seniors, adults in foster care, homeless youth, and people with serious mental illness
- Create an advisory council to increase relief for people who need palliative (serious illness) care
You can see the list of all the bills I have authored and co-authored here. Please continue to write, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), call (651-296-4212) and follow me on Facebook.