Notes From The Capital: March 2018

Bringing Down Prescription Drug Prices 
Since becoming Senator, I’ve traveled around Minnesota to talk with families, seniors, and communities. Time and time again, the topic of high prescription drug prices comes up. Minnesotans have been hit hard by the high prices they’re forced to pay for medicines they need to treat serious health conditions.                                                                                                                 
That’s why the first piece of legislation I introduced is aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs. It’s called the Expanding Access to Low Cost Generic Drugs Act—and it addresses an anti-competitive loophole that big pharmaceutical companies exploit, causing Americans to pay too much for their prescriptions.

We need to pass this bill because the amount of money Minnesotans pay for their medications is out of control and unsustainable. And I want to work with my colleagues on this, because making prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans shouldn’t be partisan. Learn more here.

Ramping Up Workforce Development Efforts 
My first stop in Minnesota after becoming Senator was at Wyoming Machine, a sheet metal fabricator in Stacy. I went there because—like many businesses and manufacturers around Minnesota—Wyoming Machine wants to hire more people, but they’re having trouble finding workers with the right skills.

This challenge isn’t unique to Wyoming Machine. In fact, the skills gap affects almost every part of our state and the entire country. But like most challenges, Minnesota is leading the way on finding solutions. 

Not everyone is going to get a four-year college degree. That’s why I’m making it a priority to meet with students, community leaders, businesses and local schools that are on the forefront of workforce training. This week, I visited schools in Anoka and Brainerd that partner with local businesses to help students land good-paying jobs, and help Minnesota companies fill open positions. I also held a roundtable discussion with women in Minneapolis to talk about creating pathways in all areas of the workforce for women, including careers in STEM, manufacturing, and construction.

When I get back to Washington, I plan to use the input I’ve gathered from these visits to help me author legislation that reflects both the needs and successes pioneered by Minnesota. Learn more here.

Expanding Mental Health Services in Schools 
As Senator, I’m committed to standing up and finding real solutions that help Minnesotans—and that means finding common ground where I can. That’s why I’m pleased to say that I introduced my first bipartisan bill this month. The measure, which I worked on with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is a commonsense idea aimed at expanding mental health services in schools and community-based organizations.

The Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act would bring more mental and behavioral health professionals inside our schools. This bill is sorely needed—it would help get kids the treatment they need at an earlier age, while also reducing the stigma kids face when they have to leave school to get mental health services. This is particularly important in rural areas, where access to these services often falls short.

Meeting the needs of our kids shouldn’t be partisan, and I’m going to continue to look for areas of agreement with my colleagues so that we can help keep moving Minnesota—and the country—forward. Learn more here.

Supporting Minnesota Farmers and Rural Economies 
This month I visited Haubenschild Dairy Farm in Princeton, which deploys renewable energy technology—a waste-to-energy biodigestor—that helps power both the farm and dozens of area homes. This technology cuts costs, encourages homegrown energy, and has allowed Haubenschild to expand their operations. I want to help more farmers, ranchers, and rural areas invest in renewable energy, cut energy costs, and support their communities.

That’s why I recently introduced a legislative roadmap for the energy section of the next Farm Bill, which is being written in Congress this year. My Agricultural Energy Programs Reauthorization Act is a strong marker for the future of our federal ag energy policies. It would significantly strengthen energy programs that have seen success in the current Farm Bill, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the biorefinery loan guarantee program, and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

I’m going to fight for this legislation because it would help Minnesota farmers, producers, agribusinesses and rural areas invest in renewable energy and fuels, cut costs, and create jobs. Learn more here.