Saturday floor session
Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed several bills, including legislation to boost payments for low-income working Minnesotans in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), raise the state’s tobacco purchasing age to 21, and provide transparency to the pricing of prescription drugs.
The MFIP legislation, HF 4582, appropriates $13.85 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide one-time payments of up to $500 per household for families enrolled in MFIP or the Diversionary Work Program (DWP), programs that help Minnesotans move to financial stability through work. Families who participate in these programs have limited access to COVID-19 assistance and aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance, and many won’t receive the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus relief checks.
Last December, Tobacco 21 became federal law, raising the minimum age required to legally purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 for the entire country. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed retailers to immediately implement the change. Some retailers, however, have expressed confusion and insisted they will not comply until they see the change made at the state level. Today’s legislation, HF 331, provides clarity on Tobacco 21 statewide.
Drug manufacturers are not subject to the same price transparency that hospitals, providers and health plans are. The Prescription Drug Transparency Act, SF 1098, requires price transparency for three categories of drugs: existing drugs, new drugs and newly acquired drugs. Drug manufacturers would be required to report to the Commissioner of Health drug pricing information for drugs that exceed certain thresholds or increase by a certain percentage over a 12 or 24 month period. The Minnesota Department of Health would post this information on a public website in an easily accessible and clear format.
Help for craft breweries
This week, Rep. Liz Olson and I introduced a measure to help craft breweries and distilleries weather the COVID-19 downturn. You can read my news release here.
Long-term care facility announcement
Governor Walz has unveiled a new 5-point plan to support our long-term care facilities, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about the plan here.
Elective surgeries to resume
Gov. Walz signed an executive order allowing the resumption of certain elective surgeries. Read about this and all of Gov. Walz’s executive orders here.
Election security and help for hourly school workers
This week the House approved legislation that allows the state to receive federal funds from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and additional measures to ensure Minnesota’s elections remain safe and secure. In addition to improving accessibility and modernizing election security, HAVA funds will be used to ensure the health and safety of election officials and in-person voters. This includes preparation for increased absentee voting, new polling place locations, the purchase of sanitation and disinfectant supplies, and public outreach for implementing social distancing guidelines related to voting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional funds were made available for virus-specific measures through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The House also approved the COVID-19 response legislation for hourly school workers. The legislation provides compensation for hourly school employees and allows entities that contract with schools to provide services to be reimbursed for paying their employees, for changes in school employment practices as a result of COVID-19 related school closures and the conversion to distance learning programs.
Who Cares for Us Day of Action
In the final weeks of the Minnesota Legislative session, legislators are prioritizing having the backs of the workers caring for us. I recently interviewed Faith, an hourly school worker looking after the children of our frontline workers and asked about her work and what the Minnesota Legislature can do to have her back as she cares for us. You can watch the video: https://youtu.be/nxmy_6eM0WQ
This week we marked Teacher Appreciation Week! Educators have gone the extra mile while facing unique challenges. The work our teachers are doing are making a difference for our students across the state and we thank them!
National Nurses Day was also observed this week. Nurses are heroes every day, but during the pandemic we want to express our deep gratitude more than ever for all they do
You can contact me at email@example.com or (651) 296-4219. Be sure to “like” my official state representative Facebook page!
Thank you for the privilege of serving District 60A in the legislature.