WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced that the U.S. Department of Labor awarded an opioid-crisis National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker grant to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for up to $1,368,421 to train at least 200 displaced workers.
“The opioid epidemic is hurting communities across Minnesota—none have been immune from its devastating effects,” Klobuchar said. “This crucial funding will provide job training across the state and support those who are in recovery and preparing to rejoin the workforce.”
“This grant will create economic opportunity for Minnesotans whose careers have been impacted by the opioid crisis,” Smith said. “The grant will help individuals re-enter the workforce by providing them with employment and training services. It will also offer recovery support through peer-support counseling. I look forward to following the progress made by the 200 workers, and I’ll keep pushing for workforce development that reflects the needs of Minnesotans.”
An initial award of $800,000 will support disaster-relief jobs and provide employment services to eligible people in Minnesota communities affected by the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use, addiction, and overdose.
The project will focus on the creation of peer-support counseling positions that will address the unique recovery needs of people affected by opioid use and on the brink of homelessness. The grant will also provide employment and training services to help workers affected by the opioid crisis rejoin the workforce. The State will provide these services to eligible individuals across 46 counties throughout central and southeast Minnesota.
Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.
Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to address substance use disorder and help people overcome addiction.
In October 2018, three of Klobuchar’s bipartisan bills to combat the opioid epidemic were signed into law as part of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. The Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs. The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), will help crack down on health care facilities or providers that try to game the system to take advantage of vulnerable patients.
In February 2018, Klobuchar and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 Act. The bill would increase the funding authorization levels for the CARA programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic.
To build on the monumental first step of CARA, Klobuchar also introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which would require the use of strong prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states. Last year, she and other senators introduced the Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a reliable funding stream to provide and expand access to treatment for substance use disorders.
Sen. Smith has made workforce development a top priority. In 2018 Sen. Smith’s priorities to expand workforce development were signed into law by the President. This included her efforts to help recruit career and technical education teachers, expand career exploration activities to include middle school students, ensure small and rural school districts receive fair share of program funding, and increase the amount of funding to school districts to train students for careers in technical fields.
Sen. Smith is also focused on addressing the opioid crisis. In 2018 a number of efforts championed by Sen. Smith to help combat the crisis were signed into law by the President. This included her provisions to establish comprehensive opioid recovery centers, expand access to medication-assisted treatment, and improve access to health professionals, tele-health services, long-distance care and recovery housing services. It also included her provisions to expand access to opioid reversal drugs, like naloxone, for first responders.