Happy official first day of Spring! Here’s a quick update from the Capitol.
Safety on our Roads
Distracted driving contributes to 20 percent of all crashes. This is an issue personal to me. A few years back my father was rear ended by a distracted driver, in an accident that left him paralyzed. He can’t come to visit me at the Capitol, because a driver made the choice to pick up their phone. The cost of distracted driving is simply too high.
This week the Minnesota House passed hands-free driving legislation which would require drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.
Sixteen other states and Washington, D.C. have hands-free cell phone laws. According to WCCO, crashes and fatalities on the road decrease when states have hands-free cell phone laws on the books, and it’s no mystery why. A driver who looks down for five seconds while driving 55 MPH has already gone the length of a football field. Minnesotans deserve to be safe on our roads, and I urge our Senate Companions to pass this legislation.
Read more from MPR here and the Star Tribune here.
In 2017, more than 400 Minnesotans died of opioid overdoses, the same year that there were more than 2,000 emergency room visits due to opioid-related overdose. This week I voted in favor of legislation to hold Big Pharma accountable for their role in creating this crisis. Minnesotans shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the tragedy that these companies have inflicted on our communities. The bill would support a wide range of addiction prevention, education, intervention, treatment and recovery strategies, and passed by a 94-34 vote.
Big Pharma has collected billions in profits over the years and has not had to pay a dime to help Minnesotans get treatment or help law enforcement keep our communities safe. This is wrong, and it’s time they start contributing to the solution. Holding big corporations accountable is the right thing to do and I am proud to support this bill.
You can read more from MPR here and listen to the astonishing story of the family that profits from the opioid crisis from the New York Times here.
After losing his health care coverage at age 26, Alec Smith died because he could not afford to pay $1,300 for his monthly supply of insulin. Following Alec’s death in 2017, his parents courageously began fighting policies that help Big Pharma and hurt Minnesotans, to prevent the same tragedy from happening to anyone else.
The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act (House File 485) creates a way for Minnesotans who are unable to afford their insulin to get their prescription filled when they need it. 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. Multiple House DFL committees have approved the bill this year.
Minnesota’s Senate is controlled by Republicans and they are blocking all attempts to hold a public hearing about insulin price-gouging. Minnesotans expect their elected officials to do the right thing, not do what’s best for big pharmaceutical corporations. Watch this FOX9 story showing how out of touch Republican senators are with their constituents on this issue.
As always, reach out any time! I want to hear from you.