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February 8, 2019



Special Election Increases GOP Senate Majority    

On Tuesday, Republican State Rep. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City), defeated Democrat Stu Lourey 52% to 46% to win a special election in Senate District 11. The special election was scheduled following former-Sen. Tony Lourey (Stu Lourey’s father), was appointed Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Had Lourey won, he would have been the third generation of Loureys to hold the seat in succession as his grandmother, former-Sen. Becky Lourey held the seat from 1996 to 2006.

Rep. Rarick’s victory increases the Senate GOP’s majority to 35-32 and provides Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) some breathing room as the session progresses. Rep. Rarick is expected to resign his seat in the House following the official certification of the election results today. Gov. Walz will then have five days to issue a writ of election and schedule a special ‎election to fill Rarick’s vacant House seat.‎ While the Senate special election was very competitive, Republicans are expected to comfortably retain Rep. Rarick’s seat in the House. 

High Profile, Priority Legislation Continues to Advance  

Committee activity increased again this week as most chairs moved away from informational overviews and considered various legislative proposals. The more notable proposals include:

Motor Vehicle Safety: The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee heard SF 75 (Osmek) which would increase the fines for individuals cited for texting while driving. The Committee also heard SF 91 (Newman), which would prohibit the use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle unless the phone was operated in a hands-free manner. Both bills were passed and re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee;

Prescription Drugs: Both the House Health and Human Services Finance and Health and Human Services Policy Committees heard presentations this week on prescription drug prices and the manner in which pharmacy benefit managers ("PBMs”) operate in the health care system. Additionally, the House HHS Policy heard HF 4 (Lesch) which would increase the Minnesota Attorney General’s authority to prosecute drug companies for “unconscionable” increases in price. HF 4 was passed and re-referred to the House Commerce Committee. 

Opioid Addiction: Continuing last week’s emotional hearing on HF 400 (Olson), this week the House Commerce Committee took up and heard legislation which would impose an opioid product registration fee and use the funds generated by that fee to fund a number of treatment and prevention initiatives. Additionally, HF 400 would create the Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council to oversee the administration of those funds. The bill was passed and re-referred to the House Government Operations Committee. 

Policy committees will continue to meet next week. The Senate is expected to take up its version of the opioid legislation while the House will hear a number of presentations on housing.

Please reach out to any of the Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team members with any questions. 



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Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.

 

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