This week has brought a massive snowfall. Governor Walz has declared a peacetime emergency in order to coordinate response and keep Minnesotans safe.
If you have to venture out, please remember to slow down, buckle up, increase your following distance and turn on your headlights. You can check the latest road conditions at 511mn.org.
Here is an update from Saint Paul.
Combating Prescription Drug Price Increases
Many Minnesotans count on prescription medications to live healthy lives. Unfortunately, the prices of many drugs are growing rapidly, at rates much faster than inflation. As a result, there is an increasing risk of people rationing needed medications or worse, skipping them altogether. Meanwhile, as Minnesotans face increasing costs, drug company profits continue to soar.
The Minnesota Department of Health has released new data available in several interactive dashboards, giving Minnesota consumers and policymakers insight into cost trends and other information to address high drug prices. Under an initiative lawmakers passed in 2020, MDH collected and analyzed data from more than 200 manufacturers covering nearly 700 drugs. For the drugs with the fastest growing prices subject to Minnesota reporting, list prices rose an astonishing average of 41.6% from 2017 to 2022.
All Minnesotans deserve health care they can afford, and the ability to pay for prescription drugs is a critical aspect of health, well-being, and economic security. House DFLers recognize the high prices of prescription drugs impact everyone in our state, and we’re working on a variety of solutions including those to improve price transparency, crack down on price gouging, eliminate cost-sharing and co-pays, and more.
Banning Conversion Therapy for Children
This week the Minnesota House passed a ban on conversion therapy. Conversion therapy includes a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is not therapy at all — it’s been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. This legislation prevents teens and young adults from being coerced into treatments that are ineffective and lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide. It also seeks to help prevent parents from being taken advantage of by deceptive agents of the conversion therapy industry. This bill will change lives, improve lives, and save lives.
Environment Committee Zoo Visit
Last week the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which I am a member of, had some critter visitors from the Minnesota Zoo! Zookeeper Donnie Cook joined us with a chuckwalla, a lizard found in the southwestern United States, and a chinchilla, a rodent native to the Andes mountains in South America. The Minnesota Zoo is the fifth largest zoo in the country and as a state agency, it receives one-third of its funding from the legislature. Our investment in the zoo ensures it remains available and accessible to all Minnesotans. You can watch the hearing, including the animal presentations, here!
Earned Safe & Sick Time
As of now, one-third of Minnesota workers do not have access to paid sick time. Because of this, working people in our state often have to make the stressful choice between caring for themselves or loved ones in need, and loss of wages or even employment.
That’s why my colleagues and I passed legislation to extend this benefit to the rest of the workforce. All Minnesota workers would become eligible for what is termed “earned sick & safe time” upon logging 80 hours on the job. Paid sick time would be accrued at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked; up to 48 hours could be accrued per year.
No Minnesotan should have to choose between their health or their job. I’m proud to have voted for this legislation.
Free At-Home COVID Tests Available
MDH is offering free at-home rapid COVID tests. This is the final chance for people in Minnesota to get free tests before the program ends. Order your free at-home rapid tests online. The website is available in English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish. Food banks, local public health agencies, community groups, and other community health organizations may also provide free testing.
Stay in Touch
Please reach out to my office if you need assistance with anything. I am best reached through email at email@example.com or please contact my Legislative Assistant Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always appreciate hearing from you. You can also follow along on my official Facebook page here.