2019 Legislative Updates

May 09, 2019 10:59 AM | Anonymous

Here are updates on Senate and House bills from the 2019 Legislative Session that Policy and Advocacy Committee members have shared with us.


Issue/Topic: Provider Tax Sunset/Health Care Access Fund


Bill Numbers/Title: HF2414/SF2452 Omnibus HHS Bills


Brief description: Since its inception in 1992, Health Care Access Fund has supported Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare which provides health care coverage to working families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance. The current source of funding for HCAF is the provider tax, which is set to expire 12/31/19. If the provider tax expires, it would result in an almost $700 million annual loss in dedicated funding for health care in Minnesota. The HCAF also funds public health prevention strategies through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). Communities around Minnesota are using SHIP to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables, serve healthier foods, make walking and biking easier, encourage multi-unit housing to go smoke-free, and engage with employers to improve wellness options for employees. Working with community partners, SHIP has accelerated reductions in smoking rates and slowed rising obesity rates, resulting in $620 M in averted health care spending since 2011.   


Current Status: House omnibus bill includes an extension of the provider tax. Senate bill has the provider tax sunsetting as the funding source for the Health Care Access Fund, moving MDH programs including SHIP from the HCAF to the General Fund. The Senate bill also modifies SHIP to remove the requirement that SHIP address the top three preventable causes of disease (poor diet, lack of physical activity, and tobacco use) and instead would use the funding to address concerns raised in the statewide health assessment.


Issue/Topic: Clean Energy


Bill Numbers/Title: HF700/SF850


Brief description: Health impacts related to climate change are significant and will accelerate without legislative action to reduce carbon emissions. The bill increases Minnesota’s renewable energy standard for electric utilities, removes garbage burning from definition of renewable energy, sets 100% carbon free energy standard in 2050, and includes language to ensure the benefits of the energy transition are shared equitably. Bipartisan support, but significant hurdles in the Senate.


Current Status: HF700 passed out of HHS and Ways & Means committee. Senator Osmek introduced a bill containing some of the clean energy items.


Issue/Topic: Healthy Food Access


Bill Numbers/Title: HF436/SF1354 (Good Food Access Program)


Brief description: This bill would invest $2.5 million/year in the Good Food Access Program, which is designed to provide grants, loans and technical assistance to small food retailers who are working to address Minnesota’s food access challenges. Since its establishment in 2016, the Program has supported a range of community-driven solutions, from enhanced grocery stores to mobile markets, farmers’ markets and more. In all, more than 20 communities have benefited, but food access challenges still exist for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, putting them at higher risk for poor health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Without a reinvestment, funding will run out this year. Visit https://www.mnhealthykids.org/good-food-access-campaign/ to learn more.


Current Status: Good Food Access was included in the House agriculture omnibus bill (HF2200), with an appropriation of up to $350,000 per year. It is listed as an allowed expense in the Senate agriculture omnibus bill (SF2226) but lacks a specified funding amount. This will be one of the issues negotiated as part of the final agriculture omnibus bill in conference committee.


Issue/Topic: CPR


Bill Numbers/Title: HF1520/SF1638 (Telephone CPR)


Brief description: This bill would strengthen our state’s EMS system by promoting telephone CPR training for 911 operators. The general public expects that, if they call 911 for a cardiac arrest emergency, the operator is going to be to tell them how to start CPR until help arrives, but this doesn’t always happen, because there are no minimum training standards for 911 operators in MN. This bill would ensure all 911 operators are trained to provide CPR instructions over the phone or to quickly transfer callers to a center that can, helping bystanders start CPR quickly while EMS is in route. Immediate bystander CPR can double, even triple, a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.


Current Status: Telephone CPR was included in the House public safety omnibus bill (HF2792) but not in the Senate public safety omnibus bill (SF802). This will be one of the issues negotiated as part of the final public safety omnibus bill in conference committee.


Issue/Topic: Prescription Drug Transparency


Bill Numbers/Title: HF704


Brief description: Requires drug manufacturers to provide greater transparency over prescription drugs – cost disclosure for qualifying prescription drugs and report required.


Current Status:Pending in the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee.


Issue/Topic: Paid Family and Medical Leave


Bill Numbers/Title: HF5, now incorporated into HF2208 (Jobs Omnibus); Senate Jobs Omnibus is SF2611


Brief description: This bill would create a state-administered paid leave insurance program that would provide up to 12 weeks of partial wage replacement for medical and family leave, so Minnesotans can take care of themselves and their families. Everyone would contribute and everyone would benefit. Additional information attached. 


Current Status: HF2208the Jobs Omnibus bill, was passed by the House on Wednesday, April 24th. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake).


Issue/Topic: Gun violence prevention legislation 


Bill Numbers/Title: Expand firearm background checks  (HF 8)


Brief description: This bill calls for expanding criminal background checks to include most private sales and transfers to include sales at gun shows or online. The background checks would not apply to a sale or transfer to an immediate family member. 


Current Status: The bill has progressed through several House committees and has been included in the House’s public safety finance proposal, though the language has no Senate companion. 


Issue/Topic: Gun violence prevention legislation 


Bill Numbers/Title: “Red flag” law (HF 9/SF 436)


Brief description: This bill would adopt a “red flag” law that would allow relatives and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who may be a serious threat to others or themselves. 


Current Status:The bill has moved through the three House committees and is included in an omnibus finance bill, but the Senate version is not expected to get a hearing.


Issue/Topic: Opioid Crisis/Opiate Epidemic Response


Bill Numbers/Title: HF400/SF751


Brief description: This bill would establish an Opioid Addiction Advisory Council, opioid stewardship fund, and opiate product registration fee; opioid addiction prevention, education, intervention, treatment, and recovery provisions modified; reports required; and money appropriated.


Current Status: Conference Committee to negotiate the differences in the two versions of the bill.


Tobacco policy updates


The Minnesota House passed their Health and Human Services omnibus bill on 4/25, which contains four strong tobacco prevention and cessation policies. The bill tackles tobacco addiction from several angles by raising the tobacco age to 21, strengthening the clean indoor air act, securing statewide quit-smoking services, and dedicating delinquent tobacco settlement payments to health. The Senate HHS omnibus bill includes funding to maintain the state's tobacco cessation program, but none of the other three proposals.


Tobacco 21 

Summary: Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will help reduce youth smoking and save lives, since 95% of addicted adult smokers started before age 21. To date, 31 Minnesota cities and counties have adopted Tobacco 21 policies. Tobacco 21 would have a profound effect on health, reducing smoking among 15-to-17-year-olds by an estimated 25 percent.

More infoTobacco 21 fact sheet


Smoking Cessation Funding

Summary: QUITPLAN® Services, the state’s free quit-smoking helpline, is ending in 2020. Lawmakers must fund quit-smoking resources this year so there is no gap in help for Minnesotans who are trying to quit tobacco. If Minnesota does not fund a statewide service, it will become the only state in the nation not providing one.

More infoCessation funding fact sheet


Keeping Indoor Air Clean

Summary: Minnesotans expect and deserve clean indoor air. This bill expands the definition of smoking to ensure Minnesota’s smoke-free indoor air law covers the use of e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited. Several local Minnesota communities have passed these policies, but Minnesota does not have a comprehensive statewide law.

More infoE-cigarette fact sheetE-cigarettes in CIAA poll fact sheet


Dedicating Delinquent Tobacco Settlement Fees

Summary: Since 2015, several cigarette brands have not been paying their required share of settlement fees to the state of Minnesota. Big Tobacco companies agreed to pay these fees in perpetuity as part of the 1998 Minnesota Tobacco Settlement. This bill states that if and when the delinquent companies pay these fees, part of those funds will be dedicated to health and addressing the harms caused by tobacco use, now and in the future.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 60 organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco, thanked the House for passing a strong, multifaceted bill. The coalition urged the Minnesota Senate to follow the House’s lead by also passing these four provisions.



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