|Neighbors of 60B,
Thank you to everyone who came to our listening session last week. It was great to get feedback, questions and suggestions from so many of you. I look forward to more listening sessions in the future. Here’s a quick update from the Capitol!
Minnesotans deserve to be safe at school, at work, in movie theaters, at concerts, in places of worship, and in all public spaces. That’s why DFLers on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division last week approved gun violence prevention legislation, and it is now continuing to move through committees.
House File 8 expands criminal background checks to all gun sales and transfers -- helping to close loopholes exploited by dangerous individuals such as domestic abusers. These background checks are an effective way to make sure that people with a history of domestic violence or other violent crimes aren’t able to access guns. Evidence shows expanded background checks will save lives, and states which have taken this approach have experienced lower homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and less firearm trafficking.
House File 9, also known as the “red flag law,” is authored by Rep. Ruth Richardson of Mendota Heights. It gives law enforcement officials the ability to remove firearms from an individual’s possession for a temporary period of time if a judge determines they are a risk to themselves or others. On average, someone in Minnesota commits suicide with a gun once every single day, often after showing signs of mental distress or violence. These laws would help save lives and prevent these tragedies.
Listen to the latest episode of the Minnesota Values Podcast for a behind-the-scenes conversation with both bill authors.
Insulin for All
We are taking action to hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable for prescription drug price-gouging as a direct result of Minnesotans who are sharing painful personal stories.
Nicole Smith-Holt and James Holt, Jr. of Richfield are the parents of Alec Smith. Alec died at age 26 because he could not afford to pay $1,300 for his monthly supply of insulin. Following his death in 2017, Alec’s parents courageously began telling their story to reporters, policymakers, and grassroots organizations in hopes of preventing the same tragedy from happening to anyone else. Yesterday they attended an Insulin for All rally at the State Capitol.
Never again should anyone die because they cannot afford the insulin they need to survive. House DFLers developed a comprehensive plan to address the skyrocketing cost of insulin. It includes the following components:
The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act (HF 485) creates a means for Minnesotans who are unable to afford their needed insulin to get their prescription filled on a temporary basis. It also authorizes pharmacies to fill a temporary supply of insulin for patients whose prescription is out-of-date. Reimbursements for pharmacies would be paid through a fee on Big Pharma insulin manufacturers.
HF 289 is authored by Rep. Alice Mann, a physician who lives in Burnsville. Rep. Mann’s bill improves drug price transparency by requiring manufacturers of prescription drugs needed to treat diabetes, such as insulin, to publicly report any changes to their prices and provide justification for doing so.
HF 288 is authored by Rep. Sandy Masin of Eagan. It prohibits health insurers from removing coverage of insulin or equipment and supplies during an enrollee's contract year.
HF 284 is authored by Commerce Committee Chair Laurie Halverson of Eagan. Her bill authorizes the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health to review and determine whether manufacturers of insulin are forcing excessive cost increases upon Minnesotans. When necessary, reimbursements would be provided to Minnesotans who need insulin to stay alive.
Yesterday in the Housing Finance and Policy Committee I presented a bill to make sure tenants have more information (such as the specific unit they will occupy, the lease start and end dates, and the rent amount) before they sign a lease. It’s now going to the judiciary finance committee (H.F. 495).
I also introduced a bill to require that tenants receive 150 days' notice before their residential property is going to be sold, so that the tenants are able to see the cash price and together have the option to meet the price, purchase the property and maintain the number of affordable units (H.F. 1876).
These are small but important steps we can take to protect renters and make sure that they are able to maintain affordable housing options.
Working Family Relief
Today in the Health and Human Services Committee I helped present legislation to increase support for low-income families with children and pregnant women. The proposals would update the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), which helps families with children meet their basic needs and find and keep a job. The cash portion of MFIP assistance has not been increased since 1986. This legislation will lift up Minnesota families who are trying to improve their lives by looking for work or going to school. The bills would:
- Increase the transitional standard for families of all sizes by $50 each year through 2022, and by two percent each subsequent year (H.F.799)
- Increase general assistance cash grants to account for inflation (H.F. 309)
- Allow more participants to apply for hardship extensions and remove language that would permanently disqualify individuals who don’t meet all the requirements (H.F.522).
- And increase MFIP grants by $300/month (H.F. 1272)
Last week the House passed a bill to fix the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), which has had a high-profile IT problems. Issues with systems of this magnitude are pervasive in the private and public sectors, and cause frustration for Minnesotans when they update vehicle registration, need license plates, tabs, or to change titles. Minnesotans deserve a licensing system that works, that’s efficient, and that gets fixed when it isn’t working. I was glad to bring relief to the crew of incredible, solution driven team with funds to compensate MNLARS employees for keeping things running smoothly.
Please continue reaching out if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I enjoy hearing from you.
State Representative – District 60B