Notes From The Capital: August 2018

Improvements to Career and Technical Education Passed into Law

I have some big news to share: provisions I authored to improve career and technical education were included in a bipartisan bill that was recently signed into law. Improving career and technical education has been a focus of mine because I’ve heard time and again that Minnesota businesses too often can’t find workers with the skills they need to fill open jobs. And while not everyone wants or needs to go to a four-year college—everyone should be able to get the skills they need to have a solid, good-paying job. Excellent workforce education provides the foundation for doing so.

My first stop in Minnesota after becoming Senator was at Wyoming Machine, a sheet metal fabricator in Stacy. I heard firsthand about the challenges employers face in finding skilled workers. Since then, I’ve visited K-12 schools, 2-year community and technical colleges, and businesses across Minnesota to learn about the innovative work being done to help prepare students with relevant, modern career and technical education. 

Investing in workforce education is good for students looking for high-skill, in-demand jobs and it’s good for employers looking to hire. Signing this bill into law is a welcome step forward. 

Learn more here

Helping Students Access Mental Health Services in Schools

I believe we need to boost access to mental health services, and make sure that our young people can get the treatment they need as early as possible. But about 1 in 5 young people struggle with mental health—and they often have a hard time getting services. 

That’s why this month I introduced a bill to make sure students can access mental health services in schools. Schools are an ideal setting to identify students who need mental health services and quickly connect them with help.

I’m going to fight to see this bill through. It would be a big help for parents and educators alike, while ensuring that students have access to the care they need to succeed.

Learn more here.

Protecting U.S. Troops and Families From Predatory Lenders

Our nation’s servicemembers work hard to protect us, and I believe that we should do the same in return.

I was incredibly disappointed by news that President Trump’s appointees to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may roll back protections that prevent servicemembers from being ripped off by shady lenders. I immediately pressed the CFPB to reverse course.

Allowing shady lenders and scam artists to rip off our troops runs counter to the very mission of the CFPB—to defend Americans who have been harmed by corporate wrongdoing. Curbing protections would put servicemembers at greater risk of things like financial fraud and predatory lending.

I’ll keep fighting to prevent the CFPB from turning its back on our nation’s servicemembers.

Learn more here 

Working to Lower Prescription Drug Prices 

The high cost of health care—including the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs—is without question the number one issue I hear about from Minnesotans. Too often, families have to choose between health care and other things they need like groceries or paying rent. That is wrong, and that’s why I’m doing everything I can to lower health care costs.

I’ll soon be introducing a comprehensive bill to help bring down the cost of prescription medicine. My legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to bring costs down, require drug companies to provide more information on what drives drug pricing (because we all deserve to know), and get rid of some of the anti-competitive strategies that big drug companies use to keep prices high and keep lower-cost generics off the market.

This month I also pressed Novartis—a giant pharmaceutical company that generates billions in profits—for answers on their financial and lobbying practices. See, they paid Michael Cohen—formerly President Trump’s personal lawyer who recently pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges—nearly $1.2 million through a shell corporation. These payments raise serious concerns that Novartis may have entered into a financial relationship with Cohen to improperly influence the Trump Administration and block policies that lower prescription drug prices. The American people deserve answers, and big pharma’s price gouging has to stop.

And I will continue to fight to lower health care costs, because families in Minnesota and across the country deserve relief. 

Learn more here and here