MAFP legislative representative Dave Renner, CAE, provides an update on what’s happening in the Minnesota Legislature, including movement to repeal the provider tax sunset, the introduction of recreational cannabis bills and more.
Repealing the Provider Tax Sunset
Legislation to extend the provider tax has been introduced in both bodies. Authored by Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis) and Representative Jennifer Schultz (DFL – Duluth), these proposals would repeal the sunset that is currently set in law to occur on December 31, 2019.
The MAFP strongly supports efforts to ensure continued funding for our needed safety net programs, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. We support looking at other options to replace the provider tax as long as the result is ongoing, stable funding.
Introducing Recreational Cannabis Bills
Bills to legalize marijuana for recreational use have been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate. The bills, SF 619 and HF 420, are authored by Senator Melisa Franzen (DFL – Edina) and Representative Mike Freiberg (DFL – Golden Valley).
The authors have insisted that they intend to move carefully and will seek input from stakeholders, including physician groups.
Most Capitol observers believe that these proposals are likely not yet ripe for passage, at least this legislative session. Law enforcement groups remain steadfastly opposed, and there is significant skepticism among many healthcare advocates.
The MAFP has not taken a position on the issue of recreational use of cannabis, but members have shared concerns with the public health issues it raises, such as use by minors and impaired driving.
Hearing for Family Medical Leave Bill
Legislation to require most employers to offer paid leave to employees facing serious illnesses – either themselves or for family members – received its first hearing in the House Labor Committee on January 31, 2019. HF 5, authored by Representative Laurie Halvorson (DFL – Eagan), passed and was referred to the House Commerce Committee.
The companion bill, carried by Senator Susan Kent (DFL – Woodbury), has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Under the bill, most employers would be required to offer paid leave for up to 12 weeks for employees seeking time off to address serious illnesses – either their own or family members for whom they provide care. Other provisions in the bill extend similar protections for families with newborns or newly adopted children, as well as for families with military deployments.
MAFP has not taken an official position on this issue, but data shows there are positive health impacts for families who have access to paid sick leave.
Banning “Conversion Therapy” for Minors
Legislation to limit the use of “conversion therapy,” the controversial psychological approach purported to “convert” homosexuals into heterosexuals, had its first hearing.
Conversion therapy is widely condemned by physicians, healthcare practitioners and other healthcare providers and has been thoroughly refuted by researchers and healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and Minnesota Medical Association.
Authored by Representative Hunter Cantrell (DFL – Savage), HF 12 prohibits the use of conversion therapy for individuals under the age of 18. Additionally, it precludes reimbursement for conversion therapy under MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. A final provision of the bill tightly regulates how providers of such therapies may advertise.