Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislative Update - Special Saturday Edition

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
We’re now in the last weekend of the legislative session, with a deadline to adjourn by midnight Monday. I will be at the State Capitol all weekend working as talks continue between Governor Walz and legislative leaders on an overall agreement on the state budget. Once this is done, House/Senate conference committees can put together details for each area of the state budget. We have a responsibility to work together to strengthen the lives of Minnesotans, and I’m committed to delivering a budget that does this.
Last week, neighbors in Eden Prairie approved a school referendum for the Designing Pathways program. I’m thankful our community values education so highly. Sen. Cwodzinski and I continue to keep a close eye on the E-12 Education Conference Committee and we’re advocating for a budget that includes strong investments for schools across the state so all students have an excellent education.


Pharmacy Benefit Managers

A little known but highly consequential industry known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) plays a significant role in soaring prescription drug prices. They currently operate without any oversight and that will soon change with legislation headed to the Governor’s desk.
PBMs essentially serve as middlemen which develop and maintain lists of covered drugs (formularies) that they offer to pharmacies. Drug makers then give PBMs rebates to encourage the PBM to place their products on the formulary. These kickbacks give PBMs an incentive to remove less expensive drugs from formularies, and encourage companies to raise list prices. As a result of this conflict of interest, Minnesotans pay more.
SF 278 would give the state Department of Commerce licensing authority of PBMs and require them to notify health carriers whenever an activity presents a conflict of interest, and to look out for the financial interests of their customers by seeking out deals that provide the lowest price. The House and Senate have both approved the bill and Governor Walz is expected to sign it into law soon.
While out talking to people in the community last summer, I heard concern from many neighbors about the growing cost of prescription drugs and I am grateful that we’re able to get this bipartisan measure over the finish line. A big reason of this success was a bipartisan, bicameral group of doctors serving in the Legislature, including Rep. Kelly Morrison of Deephaven and Rep. Alice Mann of Lakeville in the House. Having medical doctors’ perspectives as we advance this legislation is invaluable. I was proud to vote “green” for this bipartisan legislation to lower Minnesotans’ prescription drug prices.


Elder Care

Currently, Minnesota is the only state in the nation that doesn’t license assisted living facilities, leaving loved ones without needed protections. Too many seniors and vulnerable adults have experienced abuse, theft, assault, neglect, and other reprehensible actions from those entrusted to care for them, with little accountability. In 2017, the Star Tribune published a series drawing attention to this issue, and quickly after that AARP Minnesota convened a work group to solve these problems in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Last week, the House approved HF 90, a package of strong, consumer-centered reforms protecting seniors and vulnerable adults. In addition to requiring licensure of assisted living facilities, the bill allows residents to have a camera in their living space, includes a prohibition on deceptive marketing practices, and clarifies of the rights of residents and their families when abuse or maltreatment occurs. As compromise continues on this issue, industry representatives and consumer advocates have largely reached consensus, and I hope this can be finalized quickly.
The Minnesota Department of Health receives as many as many as 475 complaints of maltreatment and other issues involving the care of vulnerable adults per week. While receiving the care they need, all Minnesota seniors deserve to live with dignity in safe environments, and this bill will help ensure they can.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

In 2016, 5,712 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women were reported but only 116 of them were logged by the Department of Justice. This is an endemic requiring urgent attention as families lose loved ones.
Last week, the House approved HF 70, a bill creating a task force to investigate this crisis. Members of our Native communities have come to the Legislature to share horrific stories about the violence and trauma they’ve experienced. Currently, there is no state or national system in place to collect data on missing and murdered Native women in Minnesota.
Simply, we have to find answers, and the task force would be charged with gaining a better understanding of the causes of violence against Indigenous women and to reduce and prevent violence where it is happening.

Arts in the Park

Sadly, the Arts in the Park event scheduled today at Purgatory Creek Park has been cancelled due to the forecasted inclement weather. Organizers hope to reschedule for sometime this summer, so stay tuned.
As we enter this final weekend of the session, please contact me with your input and ideas. I value hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to call or email me. It’s an honor to represent you.
Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn
State Representative
If you or someone else may be interested in receiving legislative updates in languages other than English, here are some links to subscribe:
Somali language e-update sign up page:
Hmong language e-update sign up page:
Spanish language e-update sign up page: