Minnesota House passes bills Saturday

While no deal on the bonding bill has yet been made, the Minnesota House passed several measures during a floor session Saturday.

The House approved legislation that raises the age for Minnesotans to purchase tobacco, tobacco products, electronic delivery devices and other nicotine products to 21.

In December of 2019, Tobacco 21 became federal law, which meant the minimum age required to legally purchase tobacco products increased from 18 to 21 for the entire country. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed retailers to immediately implement the change.

Some retailers, however, have expressed confusion and insisted they will not comply until they see the change made at the state level.

Bemidji’s representative John Persell voted in favor of the measure.

The House also passed a measure that appropriates $13.85 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds to provide one-time payments of up to $500 per household for families enrolled in Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or the Diversionary Work Porgram.

Finally, the House passed the Prescription Drug Transparency Act, which requires price transparency for three categories of drugs: existing drugs, new drugs and newly acquired drugs. Drug manufacturers–who are not subject to the same price transparency that hospitals, providers and health plans are– must report drug pricing information for drugs that exceed certain thresholds or increase by a certain percentage to the Commissioner of Health.

The legislative session ends Monday, May 18. For the bonding bill, Walz has proposed about $2 billion, House Democrats proposed about $3 billion and Senate Republicans have proposed less than $1 billion.

The bonding bill requires three-fifths support in the House to pass. House Republicans made headlines last weekend when they said they would not support a bonding bill unless Walz relinquishes emergency authority to the COVID-19 response.

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