Republican Representative Dave Baker from Willmar is at the center of a push at the legislature to tax drug companies “a penny per pill” to help pay for the fight against opioid abuse. Baker says, “I don’t typically like a ‘stewardship fee’ or a tax. I mean, I’m a Republican, for crying out loud, and I don’t like the sound of that. But what I will tell you is, for this issue, today, this is the best option for us to help fix this problem.” When asked whether top House Republicans support his plan, Baker said leaders are in favor of doing something major and want him to continue working on his proposal.
Brooklyn Center Democrat Debra Hilstrom says drug companies should consider agreeing to the tax, in light of numerous lawsuits alleging they marketed opioids knowing the danger. Hilstrom says, “If there’s going to be a broader discussion about, should lawsuits stop or should things happen, you’re talking about a much larger price tag than what’s being proposed here. So some folks should be careful what they wish for.”
More in this excerpt from Wednesday’s news conference. Speakers, in this order: Rep. Baker, Sen. Chris Eaton, Rep. Hilstrom, Gov. Dayton: