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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 1, 2019

Friday, March 01, 2019

Neighbors,
 
I hope you’re having a great week and that you survived the snowiest February on record without any dead car batteries or frozen pipes. Here’s a quick update on the news from the Capitol!
 
Health Care
I heard a lot from folks in our community about the financial burden of health care in Minnesota. I strongly believe that everyone deserves access to the health care and the life-saving drugs they depend on without fear that they won’t make ends meet.
 
This week I introduced a bill that will prohibit health plans from pulling the rug out from under patients by changing drug coverage within a contract year for people on highly specific drug regimens. This is especially important for patients with depression, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy, as finding the right drugs can take a lot of time, and loss of coverage can be destabilizing.
 
On Wednesday I presented two bills to tackle the high cost of pharmaceuticals for our community. They would require prescription drug price transparency, and direct Human Services to:
  1. Make prescription drugs available at the lowest possible cost
  2. Maintain a list of prescription drugs recommended as the most effective drugs available at the best possible prices
  3. Promote health through the purchase of discounted prescription drugs
  4. Engage in price negotiations with prescription drug manufacturers and wholesalers to obtain price discounts and rebates
These measures are a start to making sure no Minnesotan has to choose between their medication and keeping the lights on.
 
Palliative Care
I’ve been working on a bipartisan bill to renew funding support for the Minnesota advisory council on palliative care. The council would be composed of 18 public members who would establish, maintain, operate, and evaluate palliative care (care given to improve the quality of life of patients with a serious of life-threatening disease) initiatives in order to prevent and treat symptoms and side-effects. As someone who struggled with a life threatening illness myself, I know how important this council is to ensure people with life-threatening illness and their families receive the best care possible.

State Budget
Governor Walz last week released his proposal for a new two-year state budget. It prioritizes education, health care, infrastructure investment, and the environment. You can read more about the state budget plan here.
 
I believe our budget needs to reflect Minnesotans’ values and priorities, and Governor Walz’s proposal is a positive first step in that process. In the coming days and weeks, stay tuned for more in-depth discussion about the budget’s specific components, such as new investments in a world-class education for all children, safe roads and bridges to drive on throughout our state, and Paid Family and Medical Leave to ensure all Minnesotans can care for a family member or relative recovering from a serious illness or celebrating the arrival of a new baby.

Paid Family and Medical Leave
A popular proposal to provide all Minnesotans with Paid Family and Medical Leave won a major victory last week in the Commerce Committee. HF 5, which I co-authored, received a public hearing and was approved, last week. We are putting into action the values and concerns you shared with me, and part of that commitment includes ensuring that no one has to choose between receiving a paycheck or caring for a loved one.
 
Preventing Abuse of Minnesota Elders and Vulnerable People
While the vast majority of Minnesota’s care providers are compassionate and dedicated to their jobs, our laws still don’t contain appropriate protections for vulnerable adults and penalties for those who do not provide the high standard of care these individuals deserve. I’ve co-sponsored a plan to ensure that seniors and vulnerable Minnesotans are safe in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and are able to live with dignity and respect.
 
HF90, which was in-part inspired by a Star Tribune investigative series, would establish strong protections against abuse, neglect, assault, and other forms of maltreatment in assisted living facilities as well as nursing homes. The bill’s next public hearing will take place in the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division, of which I am a member. Click here to read Session Daily’s recap of Tuesday’s hearing.
 
Gun Violence Prevention
The Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee this week went late into the night as they heard two bills addressing the gun violence epidemic. HF 8 and HF 9 will help ensure Minnesotans who may be dangerous or otherwise ineligible from owning or possessing a firearm aren’t able to do so. A 2018 poll showed 89 percent of Minnesotans support requiring background checks, including 94 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Republicans, and even 89 percent of gun owners. The same poll showed 87 percent of Minnesotans support Red Flag laws. The Legislature is listening to Minnesotans, who are calling on us to do the right thing and to take action to stop preventable gun deaths now, before we lost any more children, teachers, police officers or members of the community.
 
Constituent Shout-out
Last week I had the chance to meet Andrew, a high school page from our district. Students have the opportunity to come to the Legislature for a week to learn more about our state government and help on the House Floor. It was nice to meet you, Andrew!

Please continue to email (rep.hunter.cantrell@house.mn), call (651-296-4212) and stay engaged in the legislative session. Thank you for the honor of getting to serve you!
 
Sincerely,
Hunter Cantrell
State Representative
District 56A
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