Advocates spent the whole day Tuesday at the State Capitol, pushing for legislation to combat opioid addiction, which has become a major public health problem in the state. Willmar Representative Dave Baker, who lost his son six years ago, says people who become addicted to opioids “didn’t ask for this. This is a mental illness that we have to recognize, and we’re gonna wrap our arms around this disease and we’re gonna continue to try to find ways to help fix people and fix their addiction, because it’s a disease.” Baker is sponsoring five bills that would tighten prescription drug monitoring and increase a tax on drug distributors. The money would go into a fund to expand services to those fighting opiate addiction.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson supports the effort. She says, “It’s important that Minnesota double-down on this problem and that we bring together the combined efforts of law enforcement, health care, the courts, criminal justice, and families and communities throughout our state to combat this crisis.”
Comments from Rep. Baker:
Comments from MN Attorney General Swanson:
Additional information from the press release:
ST. PAUL – On Tuesday, bipartisan lawmakers from the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate joined with Attorney General Lori Swanson, members of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, doctors, law enforcement, and those personally affected by opioid addiction to unveil a series of bills – the Opioid Reform Act – to combat opioid abuse. The bills are as follows:
- HF770 (Baker)/SF563 (Koran) – Direct injectable drug medical assistance reimbursement provisions modified
- HF1134 (Baker)/SF752 (Eaton) – Prescription drug order filling time limited for opioid drugs
- HF1135 (Baker)/SF751 (Eaton) – Dispensed prescriptions additional information required
- HF1137 (Baker)/SF753 (Eaton) – Minnesota prescription monitoring program patient review required
- HF1440 (Baker)/SF730 (Rosen) – Opiate stewardship program established, report required, and money appropriated
Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, lost his son to an opioid addiction six years ago, and is chief-authoring all five bills of the current Opioid Reform Act.
“I don’t want to see other families go through what my family went through when we lost our son to an opioid addiction,” said Baker. “Many times, these addictions start with a prescription from a doctor and quickly spiral into an unbreakable dependency. These bills that were heard in committee this morning – as well as others we’re working on – are steps to get a handle on the growing problem of opioid abuse and can help prevent opioid-related deaths in our state.”
Like Rep. Baker, Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, lost a child to opioid addiction. Senator Eaton is chief-authoring numerous opioid-related bills ranging from continuing education for prescribers to strengthening existing laws relating to the life-saving drug, Naloxone.
“We’ve made strides in the past couple years to combat this illness, but there’s still more to do,” said Eaton. “The solutions we’re putting forward could have helped my daughter, or others like her, avoid this unforgiving addiction.”
Senator Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, is authoring or co-authoring each of the five Opioid Reform Act bills.
“We are seeing this problem in every corner of the state, and it’s escalating,” said Rosen. “We need to be proactive in eliminating opioid abuse and educating the public about this growing crisis. We are taking strong, appropriate steps at the state level to address this issue head on.”