Notes from the Capital: September 2019

Lifting Up Rural Economies in Minnesota and Across the Country

People who don’t live in small towns or rural areas often think about what these communities lack. But when I visit rural Minnesota, I see a lot of good things happening.

I recently traveled to Madelia to learn about local projects and rural development efforts. I met business owners and leaders at the Madelia Chamber of Commerce, a telecommunications provider, a flower shop and a restaurant. What I’ve seen in Madelia and in other communities across the state are Minnesotans coming together to create innovative solutions that support jobs and the local economy.

I want to highlight what’s working in rural communities like Madelia, so I’ve formed a bipartisan working group with Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota to seek out successful ideas and bring them back to Congress. In turn, we hope to spur efforts that boost economic prosperity in rural communities across the country.

That’s not to say that rural areas don’t face unique challenges. Many rural communities still lack access to broadband. Without it they can’t attract businesses, employees can’t work remotely, students can’t do their homework, and families may not have access to the health care they need. In Madelia, someone told me that they wouldn’t have been able to expand their business if not for access to the internet. 

We need to keep lifting up rural America and I’m working to do that. 

Learn more here

Investigating Recent E-Cigarette Product-Related Deaths and Illnesses

There’s so much that we don’t know about the potential health risks of e-cigarettes and consumers deserve to know the facts. After hearing about recent e-cigarette-related deaths, including the death of one Minnesotan, I took action with Senator Klobuchar.

I’m urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to coordinate with Minnesota health officials and state health departments across the country to speed up their investigation into the rise of acute lung illnesses and deaths linked to e-cigarette products. Federal health officials have indicated that e-cigarette products may be responsible for roughly 800 cases of severe lung illnesses. Many of these people are adolescents and young adults who were previously healthy.

I’m pressing to make sure we appropriately regulate these products and ensure their safety for public use.

Learn more here

Holding Big Pharma Accountable 

For the approximately 7.5 million Americans with diabetes who rely on insulin, the medication isn’t a choice. It’s a matter of survival. Yet the average price of insulin almost doubled between 2012 and 2016forcing some patients into the dangerous practice of rationing. And with just three insulin manufacturers in the United States, there is little incentive for these companies to lower their prices.

I’m urging the Senate to hold a hearing on my bipartisan bill to address the skyrocketing price of insulin and help people with diabetes access the life-saving medication they need to survive. At this hearing, I hope to have pharmaceutical executives address Congress directly because they need to be held accountable. And I hope to have patients share their stories so that Congress and the pharma executives understand how high insulin prices hurt Americans.

My bill is called the Emergency Access to Insulin Act, and it’s bipartisan thanks to support from Republican Senator Cramer of North Dakota. Saving lives and putting forth a solution to address a national emergency should be a bipartisan issue, and I’ll be working to get more colleagues on board.

Learn more here

Advancing Solutions to Fight Climate Change and Expand Clean Energy

The United States can lead the clean energy revolution, or we can follow. I want us to lead, and I’m working to reach across the aisle at every opportunity I can to advance legislation that supports this agenda.

Provisions from my bipartisan energy storage legislation recently cleared a major hurdle in the Senate as it was approved by committee as part of a larger bipartisan energy storage measure. It includes key portions I authored to boost research and development of cutting-edge technologies, increase energy storage capabilities for America’s electric grid and enable the expanded use of clean energy. 

I also helped introduce legislation that would help families make renewable energy or energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. Energy efficiency is the definition of a win-win. It reduces emissions and saves consumers money.

For the sake of our economy, health and climate, I’ll continue to push the U.S. to lead in clean energy. 

Learn more here.