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Minnesota Legislature

Delving Into Proposals Addressing Insulin Affordability

Minnesota Senate Republican and House DFL lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on a solution to address insulin affordability and access. The issue came to lawmakers' attention following the death of Alec Smith, a 26 year old man who died in 2017 while rationing his insulin until his next paycheck. On this week's program, moderator Shannon Loehrke delves further into the differing proposals with the Senate and House authors.

The Senate plan, sponsored by Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, would provide free insulin up to three years for diabetics who earn less than 400 percent of poverty, which is about $50,000 dollars per year for an individual or $100,000 dollars per year for a family of four. The Senate plan would require pharmaceutical companies to provide insulin free-of-charge to doctors for patients who qualify for the program. The House plan, sponsored by Representative Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, would create a program that would provide an emergency 90-day supply of insulin, funded through a licensing fee on the drug manufacturers.

Also on the program, Governor Tim Walz urges lawmakers to resolve the differences so he can call a special session before the legislature convenes in February of 2020.


Governor Calls for Legislative Agreement on Insulin Affordability

Governor Tim Walz held a press conference Thursday, October 17, calling upon state lawmakers to enact an insulin affordability program. The Senate and House have proposed differing approaches to providing insulin access; however, efforts to resolve the differences remain. Walz said he would call a special session to enact a final agreement.

The Senate plan, sponsored by Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, would provide free insulin up to three years for diabetics who earn less than 400 percent of poverty, which is about $50,000 dollars per year for an individual or $100,000 dollars per year for a family of four. The Senate plan would require pharmaceutical companies to provide insulin free-of-charge to doctors for patients who qualify for the program. The House plan, sponsored by Representative Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, would create a program that would provide an emergency 90-day supply of insulin, funded through a licensing fee on the drug manufacturers.


Mandating Clean Cars; Future of Driverless Vehicles

Governor Tim Walz recently announced a move to new clean car standards by requiring automobile manufacturers to offer a certain percentage of low-emission vehicles and zero-emission vehicles for sale in Minnesota. Senator Scott Dibble, the ranking DFL member of the Senate Transportation Committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to offer his perspective on the governor's mandate.

Also on the program, Senate Transportation Vice-Chair John Jasinski, R-Faribault, highlights the future of driving in Minnesota and the legislative role in managing the evolution of self-driving cars.


The Critical Role of the Legislative Auditor

From delving into problems with the Minnesota State Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) to examining accusations of fraud in the state's Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), the state auditor plays a critical role in aiding lawmakers' decision making. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles appeared before the Legislative Audit Commission Monday, October 8, to provide an overview of his office.

To view the entire meeting, select the Senate Committees menu above.


Reshaping the Minnesota Legislature

Lawmakers regularly propose constitutional amendments to tweak the fundamental principles that govern us. In fact, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library notes that 213 constitutional amendments have been voted on by the electorate, and 120 of them have been adopted since statehood. Senator Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, would like voters to consider a constitutional amendment that would reduce the size of Minnesota's legislature by twenty-five percent. Senator John Marty, DFL-Roseville, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would change the legislature from a bicameral body to a unicameral body. Both lawmakers join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to provide their rationale for the proposed changes.

Each October, the Minnesota Historical Society offers the Shadows and Spirits of the Capitol Tour. Brian Pease, the site manager of the Capitol, describes the historical figures attendees will meet during these special ticketed events.



Recreational Marijuana Legalization, Sports Betting, Social Media Addiction

Governor Tim Walz recently requested that state agencies prepare for the possibility of recreational marijuana use becoming legal in Minnesota, and DFL lawmakers are touring the state to listen to voters. Senator Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, is in favor of legalization and Senator Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, is opposed. Both lawmakers join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to further explain their perspectives.

The US Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in May 2018. Senator Chamberlain also weighs in on his efforts to allow sports betting in Minnesota as well as the legislature's possible role in alleviating an increasing addiction to social media.