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GOP leaders cool to penny-a-pill ‘fee’ to fight opioid abuse

Apparently even a penny a pill is too much. MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports, “House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he expects to pass a major bill this session to fight opioid abuse. Last week, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed an opioid measure that would rely on a penny-a-pill fee from drug companies to fund prevention and treatment. Daudt said that might not be the way to go. ‘I’m not sure if it will pass exactly in that form, but we’re going to take some big steps this year to curb the opioid addiction problem,’ he said. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, also wants to put more money toward fighting opioid abuse, but he too has reservations about the proposed fee. Gazelka said drug companies already pay a lot in taxes.

Just a meeting. J. Patrick Coolican of the Strib tells us, “A group of about 100 of Minnesota’s richest, most politically engaged Republicans filed into a common room last week at the Edition, a chic but anonymous apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. The host was former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He offered no meal, no coffee, no water. What he offered instead was something far more valuable than the usual cinnamon danish and burned coffee: an opportunity to get in on his own potential comeback bid, which Pawlenty fans see as the best chance for Republicans to take back the governor’s office from the DFL, in a race shaping up as the most significant and wide open in years. ‘There was no place to hang your coat,’ marveled one participant.”

This is good, except for the part about the backlog existing at all. In the PiPress we have Christopher Magan writing, “State leaders say they’ve tackled more than three-quarters of the backlog of maltreatment complaints from seniors and vulnerable adults at long-term care facilities. Minnesota began 2018 with 3,147 reports of abuse and maltreatment that needed to be reviewed or investigated. An intense triage effort at the state Health Department’s Office of Health Facility Complaints, OHFC, has knocked that number down to 712 complaints that still need to be resolved.”

Will not be receiving a plaque from Edina city leaders. In the Wisconsin State Journal we learn, “Former UW-Madison student Alec Cook, accused of sexual assault, stalking and other offenses mostly involving female UW students, will plead guilty on Wednesday to five criminal charges, one of his lawyers said Monday, days ahead of the first of seven anticipated trials against Cook that were to begin next week. … Cook, 21, of Edina, Minnesota, has been expelled from UW-Madison and was to stand trial next week before a Dane County judge in a Jefferson County courtroom before a Jefferson County jury on six counts involving a woman who told police Cook became too sexually aggressive with her.”

Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV puts some numbers to Minnesota congresspeople taking precious Second Amendment money from the NRA. “The issue of NRA donations has already proved slippery for one major Minnesota political figure. Last fall, in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58, Congressman Tim Walz, the leading DFL candidate for governor donated nearly $19,000 of NRA contributions to a veterans group. Walz’s move came after the donations were flagged by two of his Democratic opponents who show no sign of letting up their attacks. ‘The bottom line is he took the money,’ Professor Larry Jacobs said. Democratic Congressman Colin Peterson and Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen have each received $20,000 in NRA donations in recent years.” Walz will be ’splainin’ that one.

Related. Pete Kotz at City Pages writes, “Are you tired of keeping track of America’s endless mass shootings at schools, jobs, nightclubs, concerts, etc., etc., etc.? Do you worry about getting carpal tunnel from continually typing your thoughts and prayers? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way to show your artificial concern? One that didn’t require work? Or any caring at all? Introducing Thoughts & Prayers, the new app that allows you to conspicuously care with no effort whatsoever! Simply load the app to your phone. It automatically tracks national tragedies, issuing your thoughts and prayers before any of your Facebook friends! With a record 375 mass shootings in the last year alone, think of all the time you’ll save!” Video at link. It’d be funnier if it weren’t so apt.

The Strib tosses in a bit more to enrage the “patriots” fighting to protect our precious Second Amendment rights. “In his short address to the nation last week, President Donald Trump focused on the mental health aspect of the tragedy but said nothing about guns. And just two days before the Parkland shooting, the Trump administration proposed a budget that would cut millions in federal aid for mental health and school safety programs. The president’s spending plan would result in major cuts to mental health services provided within the Medicaid program that serves more than 70 million low-income and disabled people. His proposal would also deliver a 37 percent cut to an Education Department grant program that supports safer schools, reducing it by $25 million from the current level of $67.5 million. Funds targeted for reduction or elimination in the education budget plan have helped pay for things such as school counselors, violence prevention programs and mental health assistance. The recommended spending would zero out a $400 million grant program that districts can use, for example, to prevent bullying or provide mental health services.”

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/20/2018 - 06:33 am.

    Gazelka said drug companies already pay a lot in taxes

    Hey, Paul, we all pay a lot in taxes. We also pay more for medical care than any country in the world. The fee is a good idea. And how about a fee per pill on the doctor’s writing the scripts. I have gotten those prescriptions of a month’s worth of narcotics for a tooth extraction where the doctor thinks he’s doing you a favor. Taxing is the best way to cut down on availability plus fund efforts to help. But then I’m not reliant on them for campaign contributions.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/20/2018 - 09:46 am.

    The Little ‘Fellers

    Senator Wellstone said that Rudy Boschwitz was on the side of the Rockefellers, and he would be on the side of the little fellers.

    So it’s good to see that today’s GOP has come over to Wellstone’s side. First up, Paul Gazelka is fighting for the the lowest of the low, drug companies. They’re barely scrapping by these days, and a lot of them are about to go bankrupt.

    Second, Tim Pawlenty gathered those whom Christ might have referred to as “the least of us”, wealthy GOP donors.

    It’s reassuring to see that these two are not taking the easy way out by catering to the 1%. Ya know, Tim’s dad was a truck driver form South St. Paul after all.

  3. Submitted by richard owens on 02/20/2018 - 09:48 am.

    Gazelka said drug companies already pay a lot in taxes.”


    In addition, we need to stop the blindness in pharmaceutical distribution.

    A tax on each pill at the point of sale from wholesalers’ (distributors) to pharmacies, hospitals and clinics, would serve the additional need to see where these are going and in what quantity.

    Gazelka has a lot of nerve to equate the dollar cost to manufacturers and distributors when the cost to the public is so astronomical.

    When will we see some humility and cooperation from the right side of the isle? Will we continue to hear nothing but anti-tax, anti-government sloganeering in spite of the grave circumstances we face as a society?

    This, like ‘unlimited guns for profit’, is yet another case of profits being placed ahead of reasonable regulation in industries that sell death-causing products.

    Republicans better start showing some empathy and concern for someone outside their special interest$. Their very humanity as policymakers is at stake.

  4. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 02/20/2018 - 10:45 am.


    One of the news items in the glean today makes fun of the NRA and its ‘precious’ money. Another makes fun of a prayer app.

    Making fun of the same people you wish would change has the reverse effect.

    If you want to be funny, ha ha, be funny. If you want to cause change, reach out to those you disagree with and treat them with respect.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 02/20/2018 - 03:05 pm.

      Seriously, Ray?

      Have you seen the latest NRA ads featuring Dana Loesch? Have you noticed the evangelical support for a thrice married, confessed adulterer president? Sorry, but I’ll save my respect for people and organizations that actually deserve it.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/20/2018 - 08:52 pm.

      No Way Ray

      The joke is not that people pray, it’s that some politicians offer prayers and no action. Those are hollow prayers, as hollow as the prayers of the Pharisees. You know, the hypocrites that Christ held in contempt because their prayers were void of sincerity, and only meant to make them look good in public.

      Faith without works is dead.

  5. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 02/20/2018 - 10:46 am.

    Gazelka said drug companies already pay a lot in taxes.

    One thing I’ve learned since I started following politics back in the 60’s, when a Republican tells you someone is already paying a lot in taxes, that someone is making a boat load of money and has a team of accountants working round the clock making sure that they’re not paying a penny more in taxes then is absolutely necessary.

    It means that they are paying a lot in taxes because the make a lot of money. It doesn’t mean that they are paying their full share. People who make a lot of money tend to use public resources much much more that those that don’t. They should be paying proportionally to maintain them.

  6. Submitted by Peggy Reinhardt on 02/20/2018 - 10:48 am.

    Right here in Minnesota

    2 interesting gleans.
    1. Is there anything that Kurt Daudt and 1-vote majority GOP like about any of Gov. Dayton’s proposals? This time it’s the penny-a-pill effort to fund opioid treatment. Seems like obstruction for the sake of obstruction.

    2. MinnPost reported the following only days ago: As CEO of Financial Services Roundtable, former governor Pawlenty earned a salary of over $2.7 million in 2016 and was paid an average of $2.2 million per year during his prior three years at FSR. And what has FSR done for average Minnesotans under Pawlenty’s watch there? Obstructed regulation of banks.

    To me, both Daudt and Pawlenty have their heads in the sand.

  7. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 02/20/2018 - 12:30 pm.

    Two stories that show what Republicans are about

    First the local one. In the face of all the avoidable opioid, deaths, Republicans cannot embrace a penny a pill tax. Why do you think we have this crisis? Because drug companies to not have any desire to rein in opioid prescriptions. I will illustrate with an example. After knee surgery when my pain was subsiding, I was offered a prescription for 95 OxyContin pills. Knowing I needed none, I didn’t fill it, even though as I had reached my out of pocket maximum, I would have paid nothing. How many patients use these pills until they are addicted if actual give or sell them for profit. If you want want a penny a pill, now about $1 a pill tax just on opioids, as that is where the bring profits are. Republicans wouldn’t like that either. If more people because you have no appetite of taxes, it is God’s will.

    Instead Republicans continue to argument for trying to prohibit even medical marijuana that doesn’t kill people. Maybe the illegal drug lords need to follow the tactics of drug sellers in expensive suits – buy votes through campaign contributions.

    Then there are school shootings. More often and a rising number killed. Do they happen in urban schools? Not often. They are most often committed by white students or former students in suburban and rural communities from households with guns. Taking the gun is about as easy as stealing booze from the liquor cabinet. Their parents are often oblivious to the risk.

    So Trump blames mental health? So how do Republicans deal with it? First, continue to underfund child and adolescent mental health. Too few providers and beds, very low fee schedule and most services in the public sector. Add to that the stigma of kids placed in the “troubled” category, a label that continues to stick.

    On top of that Trump wants to cut reimbursement of mental health services and cut by 36% funding for school safety programs. That low level would cost one third of the Trump’s estimated 2017 subsidy of $90 million and less than the $50 million security cost of not forcing Barron to change school mid year. The mental health of the Trump family is clearly more important to Republicans than school safety for America’s children.

    This is what you get if you put crazy soulless people in charge of government. Republicans won’t change until they lose control of government.

  8. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 02/20/2018 - 12:35 pm.


    Ever notice that Lambert manages to highlight anything bad that comes out of Edina. A sociopath rapist who came out of Edina. Is going to serve some hard time. Are you really suggesting that the community had any more impact on him than would have happened elsewhere?

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