In response to the Star Tribune’s Feb. 21 editorial “Avoid ‘chilling effect’ on opioids”: Last year at the Minnesota Legislature, there was bipartisan agreement that the opioid addiction crisis was a societal catastrophe. But, the law is a blunt instrument in solving such complex problems. When we passed the opioid bill last year, I was one of 28 legislators who had serious concerns about the unintended consequences that the law created. This new legislation injected government between the patient and doctor, and now doctors are both restricted and paranoid that they will be held accountable for future prescriptions. The bill also benefited the largest opioid manufacturer and penalized the generic manufacturers. Pain patients were left paying the price, both in limited care and high prices, taxed to pay for the destruction of illicit street drugs.
In the two years before the opioid bill, opioid prescriptions had already been reduced by 50%. Doctors were mostly not aware of the damage they were doing, and the medical establishment corrected itself. The editorial cites the 33% drop since 2016 of prescriptions for people in state health programs alone.
Next week, I am introducing two bills to help patients with intractable pain who have been wronged by this overreaching bill. One bill adds two intractable pain patients as voting members to the opioid workgroup, where they currently have no voice. The second one amends the opioid law to loosen restrictions on medical providers so they can appropriately treat patients. The Legislature created this problem for intractable pain patients like Cammie LaValle, and now we must correct it.
Jeremy Munson, St. Paul
The writer is a Republican member of the Minnesota House.
Pry apart Christian support for him
I’m encouraged to read about the Rev. Doug Pagitt and Vote Common Good’s work to motivate evangelical Christians to vote against re-electing President Donald Trump (“State by state, anti-Trump evangelicals spread their message,” Feb. 20).
The article indicates that 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump and continue to support him. Apparently they do so to protect religious freedoms and avoid expansion of access to abortion. I’ve read and heard many times that Trump is considered by some as the most Christian of our options.
Here are some things to consider.
Reducing the national cap on refugees from 110,000 in 2016 to 18,000 in 2020 is not a Christian move. Erecting a wall between our country and another is not a Christian move. Pulling out of an international climate accord is not a Christian move. Putting America’s short-term interests first and above the best long-term interests of the world God created isn’t a Christian move. Calling people countless derogatory names like “horse face,” mocking disabled people, lying, bribing, ranting, raving and firing employees who expose one’s malfeasance, are not Christian moves.
Christ was clear: Welcome the stranger. Care for those in need. Be Christ beyond our borders and to the ends of the earth. Honor God’s creation. Love our neighbor and respect those who differ from us.
I understand the concerns of the evangelical Christians regarding abortion. “Thou shall not kill” is also an important Christian tenet. Yet if one looks further into that tenant, one would find the Republican stances on many issues are highly supportive of purposefully taking human life.
This sentiment isn’t coming from a lifelong unabashed liberal. I have been voting for over 40 years. I have voted for more Republican candidates for president than I have for Democrats.
Whether Democrat or Republican, I hope America agrees in November that we should (re-purposing the phrase of a late inspiring Republican) “just say no” to Trump. His behavior is not constructive, not presidential, not acceptable and certainly not an example of Christ. America, and the world, deserves better than this.
Vince Therrien, Burnsville
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I find it very ironic that this so-called Rev. Pagitt calls himself a Christian, going around with a negative, hateful attitude of Trump, then to tell others that Trump isn’t religious enough. Well, I hate to tell this phony reverend that true Christians don’t use a negative attitude toward others. Pagitt, you need to look in the mirror.
Johnny Eells, Dennison, Minn.
TAXES AND DEBT
Use one to solve the other
There are two national issues that are much more important that student debt, health care and immigration: tax disparity and the national debt.
Working-class people are paying more than their fair share of taxes. In 2018, my family paid more in federal taxes than FedEx, Amazon and Chevron combined. Our federal tax bill was 13% of income (not too bad), while theirs was zero (that’s bad for the country). Why are we paying taxes when they are not?
At $23 trillion in national debt and with a U.S. population of 327.2 million, our debt comes to over $70,000 for every woman, man and child. With the additional $1 trillion in debt this fiscal year, that will come to over $73,000 per person in the United States by year’s end. Our people cannot afford that kind of debt.
Our nation is the greatest on earth. However, the United States of America as we know it is not sustainable with this kind of tax disparity and national debt. Our elected officials need to address these key issues.
Kay Sargent, White Bear Township
Legislature has ideas. Pass them.
Rep. Patty Acomb, DFL leader of the Minnesota House Climate Caucus, has introduced a terrific $191 million bill in the 2020 Legislature that will jump-start bold climate actions across the state. The bill leverages funding to develop grassroots, competitive grant programs in energy efficiency, composting for multiunit dwellings, solar on our schools and homes, electric-vehicle rebates and electric buses for schools and transit, local government projects for solid waste disposal, new technology demos of battery storage and distributed energy generation and research on natural systems sequestering of carbon.
People throughout Minnesota want to act now on climate change with clean energy and solutions created right here in our state. Call your Minnesota legislator today and tell him/her that you support HF 3436 and the 100% renewable energy mandate for passage in this 2020 session.
John Crampton, Bloomington
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State Sen. David Osmek defends the Senate’s clean-energy bill, criticizing “radical environmentalists ... who are accountable to no one” (“Critics of bill on clean energy are wrong,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 21). I am a radical environmentalist precisely because I am accountable: to my daughter, to my grandson, to future generations who will see the quality of their lives deteriorate if we don’t address climate change — immediately!
I agree with some of what the senator writes. For example, I believe there is a place for nuclear power as an emissions-free step in the transition to renewable energy. However, I don’t sense in the commentary the commitment we must all have to protecting the environment.
The Sierra Club and other “radical” organizations are working toward creating a better future. If that makes me a radical, I’m most proud of it.
Nic Baker, Roseville
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