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

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Legislative Update - April 21, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors, 

I hope you and your loved ones continue to stay healthy and safe during these challenging times. The information and resources that are available continue to change, sometimes on a daily basis, and a great source of accurate and up to date information is the state’s COVID-19 website, which you can find here

In our work at the Minnesota House, we continue to craft legislation that puts Minnesotans first, while also finding ways businesses and state agencies can operate as efficiently as possible in our temporary new normal. One recent legislative success I’d like to highlight, though not directly COVID related, is the passing of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act.

Alec Smith Insulin Act Graphics - House Passage

By now I’m sure many of you have heard me or someone else share the story of Alec Smith, a Minnesotan who died as a result of rationing his insulin medication he could no longer afford. Alec had recently aged off of his parents’ health insurance, and even though he had $1,000 in the bank, that wasn’t enough to get the medicine he needed to survive. 

No Minnesotan should die because they can’t afford their insulin – that was the mantra behind Alec’s bill. After years of advocacy, hearings, floor votes, and more tragic deaths, it was during this pandemic that a bipartisan agreement was finally reached. In spite of stiff opposition by the deep pockets of Big Pharma, intent on preserving the status quo, a mighty few insulin advocates were an unstoppable force for good, passing Alec’s Bill and saving the lives of Minnesotans. 

Sharing with these advocates, including Alec’s parents, that the bill would soon pass, was a beautiful moment in a time hungry for good news. This fight for affordable insulin shows that when we lead with our humanity and love for our neighbor - there is no limit to what we can achieve.

zoom pic

Alec’s bill, now law, ensures that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance. 

You can read more about the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act here.


Housing Assistance During COVID-19

Minnesota is leading the nation in “flattening the curve,” thanks in large part to how well we’re following the “Stay at Home” order. But for many Minnesotans, with the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic, staying in their home will become more difficult to afford without the assistance they need to pay their rent or mortgage. Governor Walz was right to implement a moratorium on evictions during the peacetime emergency, but more needs to be done. 

Tomorrow, I’ll be joining my colleagues on the Housing Finance and Policy Division for a remote hearing to discuss legislation that would allocate $100 million to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for the purpose of preventing homelessness and maintaining home ownership during the pandemic.

Our hearing begins at 8:00 AM,  and you can tune in live on the House Public Information’s YouTube channel, here


Stay Connected

If you have any questions about our work in the legislature or the resources available to our community, feel free to reach out to me via phone, (651) 296-7158, or email, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Be kind to one another (from a recommended 6 feet) and wash your hands.

In partnership,


Michael Howard