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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 17, 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
There are only a few days left in the legislative session before our constitutional deadline of May 20th. As I write this, Governor Walz, Speaker Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka continue to meet to discuss our state budget and work to reach consensus. 
This time of session can be frustrating for Minnesotans because political gamesmanship can take the focus away from where it should be – the decisions that will make a difference in the lives of others.
We are continuing to fight for a budget that invests in the things that Minnesotans care about – improving education, increasing access to affordable health care, and making our communities more inclusive and safe.
Care Before Cuts 
As leaders negotiated yesterday, I proudly stood with Minnesotans who came to the Capitol to raise their voice about the stakes of this session. Many were there to advocate for the continuation of the Provider Tax, which has helped ensure Minnesota has an adequate health care safety net for decades. Without action this session it will expire, jeopardizing the health of more than 1 million Minnesotans, including tens of thousands of people with disabilities. That is unacceptable. Minnesota should be a place where we care for our loved ones and the most vulnerable.
James Holt, the father of Alec Smith, spoke at the rally, urging for action on the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act. We are working hard to ensure that Alec’s Bill gets passed this session so that affordable insulin is available to those who need it.


Reducing Prescription Drug Prices 
This week, the Legislature passed an important reform that puts patients before profits in order to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
In bipartisan fashion, both the House and Senate have approved legislation that creates transparency and accountability measures for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). PBMs serve as middlemen between pharmacies and drug manufacturers, developing and maintaining lists of covered drugs (formularies) that they offer to pharmacies. Drug manufacturers gives rebates to PBMs to encourage the sale of their products, but these are not necessarily savings that are passed on to consumers. This system incentivizes PBMs to remove less expensive drugs from their formularies, and causes drug prices to rise.
PBMs switch drugs whenever they can get a higher rebate, resulting in doctors having to change patients’ prescriptions, sometime several times a year, and often leading to more expensive medications. The bill passed by the Legislature would give the Department of Commerce authority over the licensing of PBMs, requiring PBMs to notify health carrier of conflicts of interest, and creates a system where finding deals that lower drug prices becomes to goal of the profession.
The bill is on its way to Governor Walz to be signed into law. You can read more about this legislation here.
We Need Your Vote for Roosevelt Park in Richfield! 
There’s an important vote coming up that impacts our community, but it’s not one at the Legislature. Roosevelt Park in Richfield has the opportunity to receive a much-needed make-over through the Minnesota Timberwolves program: Our Courts. Our Future. The program is offering basketball court refurbishment in regions all over the state, and Roosevelt Park needs your vote to win!
Anyone can vote, once a day, from now until the end of the day Friday, May 24. (In this instance, the adage vote early and vote often applies). Both Richfield High School and Holy Angels Academy are less than two miles from Roosevelt Park, and the park has been a popular spot for basketball for years, as evidenced by the wear and tear.
You can vote for Roosevelt Park today (and every day for the next week) here.
Touching Base 

In these remaining days of the session, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at, or at (651) 296-7158.  

Michael Howard