One of my favorite parts about interim is that I get to spend much more time in-district interacting face-to-face with folks who may not be able to make it down to
St. Paul during the regular session.
Even though it is interim, my office is always open for calls, emails, and meetings if you want to discuss policy or community related issues.
See below for more information about what I have been up to in the community as well as what policy items are on our radar as we move into November.
Jeff Howe, Minnesota Senator
This interim has been full of events and community meetings including a nursing policy, building code law, State Trooper pay, and Veteran benefits. See below for just a glimpse at what I have been discussing and been up to the last few weeks.
MN Fire Association Coalition Legislative Forum
This week I had the opportunity to be hosted by the Lake Region Firefighters as well as the members of the MFAC to answer the tough questions surrounding how to best support our fire service members. There is a lot of work the state can do on this topic, from PTSD help to pension issues for firefighters. I am motivated to continue introducing and supporting legislation that gives proper resources to the men and women who serve all Minnesota communities through the fire service.
National Caucus of Environmental Legislators/National Conference of State Legislators
This summer, I was lucky to be able to participate in both the NCEL and NCSL conference in Nashville, Tenn. The conferences help connect legislators and researchers from all parties and all parts of the country to come to more sound policy decisions back home. While at NCSL, I was able to hear from folks on the forefront of transportation policy, state/local government policy, environment, and many other issues that are directly connected to District 13.
Visit to St. Ben’s nursing students
Huge “thank you” to Ms. Lang, who invites me every fall to discuss and take questions from her nursing students in Collegeville relating to health care and the nursing profession. I am always met with brilliant questions and concerns from the health care leaders of tomorrow and am grateful for the opportunity.
PTSD Disability Forum
This interim I was invited to speak to folks at the League of Minnesota Cities to discuss PTSD and the many other disability claims that revolve around both civilian and military service. This issue is one that touches so many men and women, especially those who serve our country. I will continue to support and bring forth legislation to give service members who suffer from mental illness after serving better benefits and resources.
Shoot for Troops
This event raises money to support active military, veterans, and their families (deployed or back home), who are in need of various resources. This event is always a great way to bring both veterans, active members, and the public together for an amazing cause. The money raised goes directly back into the community to ensure that our service men and women have the support they deserve after defending our freedom.
St. Cloud Stand Down veteran resource center grand opening
If you didn’t already know, The St. Cloud Stand Down has a new veterans’ resource center that recently opened in St. Cloud. This organization is run purely by volunteers and is an amazing example of people coming together to help their fellow community members.
I had a very productive meeting with Housing First MN last week to discuss how best to use land that is being developed into housing to both meet the needs of the community while allowing affordable housing and home ownership to folks who need it most.
While it is interim, that does not mean that legislative issues take a back seat. I am still working hard on many issues that I hope to have success with next year.
Last week I met with representatives from the State Patrol to discuss steps moving forward on SF780, which would better compensate State Troopers and make their pay competitive with the local police forces around the state. We invest a significant amount of resources into training the men and women in the State Patrol, and we are seeing a large retention issue because, even after all of the specialized and rigorous trainings, the pay is not as good as many of the local police departments.
Protecting your Second Amendment rights
When it comes to protecting Minnesotans and preventing gun violence in Minnesota, it is important to remember that our state has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Minnesota doesn’t have an issue with lenient laws. If anything, we have a problem with enforcing the laws on the books. An example of this is felons in possession of guns. In Minnesota when felons are caught with guns, more than half of them don’t even get the minimum sentence, hardly a responsible action for a state serious about guns.
Rather than focus on these failures, there is a continued effort to lock in on “Red Flag” legislation and universal background checks. These measures don’t stop shootings or prevent criminals from obtaining weapons, but they certainly infringe on Minnesota’s law-abiding gun owners Second Amendment rights.
A few examples of gun laws already on the books
• MN §624.713 Persons ineligible to own/possess firearms: Those convicted of a felony, domestic abuse, crimes with
1+ years in jail, adjudicated mentally ill, aliens, dishonorably discharged from military, affiliated with gangs, are all ineligible.
• MN §609.666 Negligent storage of a firearm: Gross misdemeanor to leave a loaded firearm where a child can or is likely to gain access.
• MN §609.67 Machine guns and short shotguns: These weapons are prohibited for all general public to own and carries a five-year jail sentence or up to $10,000 fine (see MN§624.712 for definition of weapon class).
As your State Senator, I will continue to remain vigilant in order to protect your rights and preserve your ability to lawfully exercise those rights free from unnecessary government intrusion. As gun issues develop going into next session, I will keep you updated on all the essential details.
Insulin Patient Assistance Program
Insulin has been a big issue in Minnesota over the past few years, with many Minnesotans struggling to pay for the cost of their expensive prescription drugs. In September, the Minnesota Insulin Patient Assistance Program was announced. It is a new plan to provide access to insulin for Minnesotans unable to afford its high cost. The program, which could be implemented as soon as Jan. 1, 2020, would require insulin drug manufacturers to provide insulin to Minnesota doctors on behalf of eligible patients.
In contrast, there is an alternative plan that is considered an “emergency solution.” There are significant differences between the two proposals, most notably is that Insulin Patient Assistance Program would cost less than the emergency solution plan, it would use the existing supply chain, and would not disrupt doctors and patient relationships. Outside of being less efficient, the emergency solution insulin plan also has some significant pitfalls, including the fact that it would take 9-12 months to implement and would only cover a 90-day supply with no support for people with diabetes after that.
I am committed to solving this problem, and I believe that Minnesotans should have access to lifesaving medications, including insulin. We hope that legislators will work together and recognize that the Insulin Patient Assistance Program would provide a stable path forward.
You’re invited to follow me on social media. Be sure to follow me on my Facebook page for the latest news from the Capitol and District 13. You’ll find legislative updates, constituent photos, events, video updates, and more.
Senator Jeff Howe
3235 Minnesota Senate Building, 95 University Avenue West Saint Paul MN 55155 Tel: (651) 296-2084