2019 Legislative Summary

June 21, 2019 3:02 PM | Anonymous

Here is the final update on the bills we were tracking this session, provided by Policy and Advocacy Committee members.

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

Bill Numbers/Title: HF2414/SF2452 Omnibus HHSBills

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.  


Final Status: The provider tax has been extended indefinitely at 1.8% (previously 2%). The Health Care Access Fund will continue to fund SHIP. SHIP was fully funded at $17.5 million per year.

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.

Final Status: This bill did not pass.

Issue/Topic: Healthy Food Access

Bill Numbers/Title: HF436/SF1354 (Good FoodAccess 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.

Final Status: The Good Food Access Program secured additional resources in the final state budget, allowing the Dept. of Agriculture to invest up to $300,000 per year for the next four years.

Issue/Topic: CPR

Bill Numbers/Title: HF1520/SF1638 (TelephoneCPR)

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.

Final Status: Telephone CPR passed as part of the judiciary and public safety omnibus bill. This new law will ensure all 911 operators in Minnesota are trained to provide CPR instructions over the phone or quickly identify and transfer cardiac arrest calls to another call center whose staff can.

Issue/Topic: Paid Family and Medical Leave

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

Brief description: This bill would create a state-administered paid leave insurance program that would provide up to 12weeks 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.

Final Status: The bill was not heard in the Senate, so it did not pass.

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. 

Final Status: This did not pass.

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. 

Final Status: This did not pass.

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.

Final Status: This bill passed. Fees will be charged to manufacturers. A portion of the funds may go to the county and other social service organizations that are impacted by the opioid crisis.

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.

Final Status: Funding was appropriated for this, but policy language will be worked on in 2020.

Issue/Topic: Prescription Drug Repository Program

Summary: Allows some healthcare facilities (e.g., long-term care facilities) to donate unused, still packaged medications to a central repository for redistribution. Reduces waste, environmental harm, and saves money.

Final Status: This passed.

Issue/Topic: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.

Final status:This did not pass.

Issue/Topic: 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.

Final Status: This passed; funding has moved to MDH.

Issue/Topic: Keeping Indoor Air Clean

SummaryMinnesotans 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.

Final Status: This passed.

Dedicating Delinquent Tobacco Settlement Fees

SummarySince 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.

Final Status: This did not pass.

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