The next step for our budget bills are conference committees, in which we’ll meet with Senators to hash out differences within each version of a bill. Our state constitution requires us to adjourn by May 22, and we are committed to finishing strong for the people of Minnesota.
Here’s an update from the Capitol.
Commerce Budget Bill Passes the House
On Thurday, the House passed the Commerce budget bill, the committee I serve on as Chair. The bill establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which reviews and limits how much Minnesotans pay for high-cost drugs and prohibits generic drug manufacturers from price gouging, and caps co-pays for prescription drugs to treat chronic diseases, including insulin, Epi-Pens, and more, at $25 (or less) for one month’s supply and co-pays for medical supplies to $50 per month. This bill helps students know their rights with the formation of a student loan advocate, and protects children by creating an Age-Appropriate Design Code (AADC) on the Internet.
Our state government has a responsibility to protect people and create a fairer, safer Minnesota for all. That’s why the House DFL have collaborated with local officials and community leaders to craft this package of new investments into proven provisions to protect Minnesota consumers. I’m proud to have carried it.
This week, the House voted in a bipartisan manner to approve my legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Minnesota.
We know that Minnesota’s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good, and over the last 3 years, DFLers in the legislature have worked and listened to build a Minnesota-specific model for cannabis legalization. This bill creates a safe, well-regulated legal marketplace, including best practices for consumer protection, health, and public safety. It also includes a robust expungement program, so people who have disproportionately been caught in the criminal justice system due to cannabis can move on with their lives. Minnesota is ready for legalization.
Public Safety Budget Bill Passes
On Wednesday the House passed the Judiciary and Public Safety budget bill to invest in improved public safety. It prioritizes a holistic approach on gun violence prevention, funding for law enforcement and victims of crime, juvenile justice reform, and more. This bill will create a safer Minnesota while working to break cycles of crime and violence.
The leading cause of death for children in the U.S. is gun violence. This is unacceptable. With this bill, the House is committed to reducing gun violence by implementing criminal background checks, a red flag law, violence prevention grants, increased penalties for illegal devices that switch handguns into automatic weapons, and gun violence research funding. No other developed nation suffers under the deadly threat of firearms like the U.S. We have the power to change that, and this bill is the first major step.
Tax Bill Passes
Recent cost of living increases have affected every Minnesotan, with our seniors on fixed incomes being some of the most impacted. For this and other reasons, I have long supported eliminating the tax on social security benefits. The House Tax Bill takes us a long way towards that goal. It eliminates the tax for couples making less than $100,000 and for single filers making less than $78,000. After this bill is enacted, more than 75% of seniors will pay no tax on their Social Security benefits. While I would prefer repealing the tax completely, this compromise position is a good step forward.
This bill also prioritizes children and families by increasing both the working family and child tax credits. The increase in the working family tax credit is a proposal that I chief authored. The working family tax credit is one of the best tools we have to help families struggling right now. By expanding these important credits we are making raising a family easier for over one million Minnesotan families and reducing child poverty by 22.9%.