Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Ban Advertising Addictive Opioids!

Apr 24, 2018
the Monday Report

Nolan to Introduce Ban on Advertising and Marketing of Dangerous, Highly Addictive Opioid Painkillers

Pharmaceutical companies use ads like this to encourage doctors to prescribe powerful and addictive opioid pain medications to their patients.

Dear Friend,

Today we open a new front in the battle against deadly opioid addiction and abuse – draft legislation I will introduce to ban pharmaceutical companies from advertising powerful pain-killing opioids and opioid-related therapies to consumers, or promoting them to doctors. Specifically, my “Opioid Advertising and Prescriber Prohibition Act of 2018” would amend Section 301 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 331) to accomplish these objectives.

While opioid pain killers must continue to be available to patients who need them, carefully monitored by a physician, consensus is growing that it’s time to prohibit pharmaceutical companies from spending billions of dollars encouraging the widespread use of these powerful and dangerous medications through advertising.

New York Times Endorses Opioid Advertising Ban

Here’s part of what the New York Times had to say on yesterday’s editorial page advocating a ban on opioid advertising:

“To stem the number of new opioid users, lawmakers and regulators need to stop pharmaceutical companies from marketing drugs like OxyContin and establish stronger guidelines about how and when doctors can prescribe them. These drugs are often the last resort for people with cancer and other terminal conditions who experience excruciating pain. But they pose a great risk when used to treat the kinds of pain for which there are numerous non-addictive therapies available. Doctors have been writing fewer opioid prescriptions in recent years, but even the new level is too high."

The hard cold fact is that over the years, the advertising of opioid painkillers and related drugs to doctors and patients – beginning with OxyContin in the mid 1990’s – has helped bring us to the point where there are nearly 43,000 opioid-linked drug fatalities in the United States every year. Crossing every regional, racial and ethnic divide, opioid abuse is responsible for more deaths in any one year than from breast cancer, vehicle crashes or gun violence.

Actually, my bill would serve to codify moves within the pharmaceutical industry itself to curb opioid advertising. Purdue Pharma, earlier singled out by the federal government for its “aggressive” marketing of OxyContin, recently announced that it will voluntarily stop marketing the highly addictive drug to doctors for their patients.

If you would like to offer a comment, idea or suggestion regarding our proposed ban on opioid adverting and marketing, we will take your input under careful consideration before introducing the actual legislation. Just click here to offer your comments by the close of business on June 1st.

We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.


Nolan’s North Country Scenic Trail Bill Clears Committee and Heads for the House Floor

The measure, which will proceed to the full House for final passage, would help put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system that stretches from the plains of North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead all the way to the forests of Vermont.

With the spring hiking season finally on the way, the House Natural Resources Committee last week unanimously passed my bipartisan bill (H.R. 1026) to incorporate more than 400 miles of existing trails in the Minnesota Boundary Waters, the Superior Hiking Trail, the Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail into the North Country National Scenic Trail.

The measure, which will proceed to the full House for final passage, would help put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system that stretches from the plains of North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead all the way to the forests of Vermont.

It’s important to note that the plan doesn’t involve any new dollars or require taking any land through eminent domain. The route skirts around and protects about 100 miles of environmentally sensitive bogs and wetlands in Northeastern Minnesota that had been included in an earlier suggested route.

Here in Minnesota our trails provide an extra boost to a $13.6 billion annual tourism economy that already supports 254,000 good paying jobs. Why? Because trail users get hungry and thirsty, so they spend money in our restaurants. They get tired, so they spend money staying in our hotels. They need supplies, so they patronize local businesses. Visitors fall in love with our region, so they return again and again.

The American Hiking Association recently completed a study showing that when all the dollars spent on trail recreation work through the economy, the multiplier effect reaches $196 billion a year – supporting 768,000 good paying jobs nationwide.

Moreover, experts tell us that for youngsters, hiking in the great outdoors helps alleviate something called the ‘nature deficit,’ a fancy term that means kids don’t go outside much anymore. In fact, according to one study, the average kid in America today spends 7 minutes of every day outside, and 7 hours in front of a computer screen or a TV set. Getting outside hiking is great for everyone’s physical and mental health – kids and adults alike. And it’s good for our economic health as well.

Republicans Endanger Farm Bill Passage - Abandon Historic Bipartisanship and Democratic Process

Click on the screen above to hear my opening statement on the proposed 2018 Farm Bill 

Republicans wrecked the Farm Bill last week.

Instead of working in good faith with Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee to craft a strong bipartisan bill, they abandoned the democratic process and passed a weak, mean spirited version of their own on a party line vote, virtually assuring the GOP plan will go nowhere in the Senate.

Over the strong objections of Democrats, including me, this GOP Farm Bill would do virtually nothing to improve the safety net farmers need to survive these tough economic times – nothing to encourage young farmers – and nothing to bolster rural communities and small businesses.

What the bill does do is launch a partisan assault on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that some 46 million Americans – including women, children, the elderly, disabled and unemployed, and thousands of military Veterans and military families – depend on to stave off hunger and malnutrition. And by doing so, this attack on the SNAP program threatens to unravel the historic partnership between rural food producers and urban food consumers that has always been critical to the success of Farm Bills down through the years.

The so-called “work requirements” added to the bill are unnecessary and duplicative of other work programs, bureaucratic, and would cost the states hundreds of millions of dollars to administer. What’s more, there are nowhere near enough funds in this measure to provide meaningful help to able bodied SNAP recipients to train for and secure good paying living wage jobs.

On another note, I joined Democratic colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee last week to urge the President to work closely with Congress on a final Farm Bill to provide farmers with all the support they need to weather possible retaliation by trade cheater nations like China after the President announced 25% tariffs on low grade subsidized foreign steel and aluminum. As I have said many times before, these tariffs are necessary to ensure the survival of our iron ore and steel industries. But farmers should not be forced to bare the economic burden of these trade battles.

As Nolan Presses to Make College Affordable, Growing Numbers of Students Face Hunger and Homelessness

More than one in every three college students are food and housing insecure, and some nine percent are homeless according to a new study by Temple University and the 
Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

No college student should ever be forced into hunger and homelessness by the high cost of education, but according to a new study by Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, that’s exactly what’s happening to roughly one out of three young people who responded to a survey of 43,000 students attending 66 institutions around the Nation.

Specifically, 36 percent of college students said they are both food and housing insecure – with not enough money to buy groceries, pay rent and cover utilities – while 9 percent reported being homeless. It’s no surprise that according to the study, students in these situations have lower test scores, poorer grades and less chance of graduating than those with more resources.

At the root of these problems is the simple fact that college has become unaffordable to millions of our best and brightest young people. A four-year college education was virtually free for the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of today’s students, and it ought to be virtually free today to help ensure a prosperous future for our people and our Nation. That’s why I’ve joined Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and numerous others here on the House side in championing our College for All Act to eliminate all tuition and fees for low and middle-income students at two and four-year public and tribal colleges and universities.

Just consider that in 1979, it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of college tuition – averaging about $2,800 dollars – just by working four or five days a week at a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today, it would take a minimum wage employee an entire year of working 40 hours a week to pay the average cost of tuition, room and board of about $21,000 dollars.

Furthermore, in 2017 twenty-two states reduced the money they spent per student on public colleges. That’s up from the 17 states that saw drops in 2016 and the ten from 2015, according to an annual report that tracks state appropriations and tuition revenue at public colleges.

Our Week in DC

Last week, representatives of Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association attended their annual conference in Washington entitled “Tell the Truth About Snowmobiling” hosted by the American Council of Snowmobile Associations. They took time to stop by my office for a meeting to discuss public land management. 

I had a great time speaking at the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council annual convention last week. Everybody was talking about rebuilding America and the hard working union men and women across this country are the ones who know how to do it – hands on and from the ground up. Nobody in the world builds it like the Building Trades.

A representative from the Pet Food Institute swung by my office this week for a quick meeting. A member of my staff snapped this photo. 

Several members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance stopped by my office in Washington last week to discuss funding the Connect America Fund (CAF), the need for the President’s infrastructure package to have a rural broadband component, and the impact of a broken video marketplace on rural carriers and their consumers. 

St. Scholastica TRIO recipient, Winonah Ojanen, and Rachel Hortin-Phelps, Academic Coordinator for TRIO McNair Scholars Program stopped by my office last week. Ms. Ojanen will be presenting about galaxy properties and post-starburst galaxy evolution done in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History and the Sloan Foundation. 

Great meeting with the Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota last week. We discussed several key issues important to our labor unions including infrastructure funding. 

Our Week in Duluth

On Wednesday, at the MN Department of Transportation building in Duluth, Brenda Hoppe, a research scientist with the MN Climate and Health Program at the MN Department of Health, presented results of a vulnerability assessment which applied future precipitation estimates to an exploration of risk for Minnesotans on private wells. She addressed the monthly Climate Change Talk hosted by Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Sea Grant, and 1854 Treaty Authority. Dr. Hoppe described lessons learned from applying future climate estimates to public health investigations and the role scenario planning can play in our state’s efforts to prepare for and respond to climate change. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.

Our Week in Center City

By the looks of it, it's hard to believe it's the middle of April! Just past these trees is the beautiful Wild River State Park and the St. Croix River. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen took this picture on his morning walk.

Our Week in Pine City 

The “Creating Our Future Workforce by Developing a Youth Pipeline” forum was held at the Pine Technical and Community College. The panel included High School Counselors talking about how they work with secondary students on laying out career paths and what courses they will need to follow that path. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended on my behalf.

Our Week in Arden Hills 

A number of 8th District high school seniors attended Academy Information Night at Mounds View High School was held in Arden Hills last week. There was a good turn out of young men and women interested in serving our country in either the Air Force, Army, Merchant Marine, or Navy. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the event on my behalf. 

Our Week in Biwabik

Local leaders met recently at Giants Ridge in Biwabik for an East Range Community Action Panel event. Marcia Podratz gave a presentation to the group on Minnesota Power's rate review and other regulatory proceedings. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the event on my behalf.

Our Week in Hibbing 

The Hibbing School Board Meeting took place last week and local Hibbing School teachers were locked out. The Hibbing School teachers are fighting for a fair contract after trying for the past year. My Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside snapped this photo.

Our Week in Randall

The Semi-Annual Retiree Seminar was held at Camp Ripley in the Old Hangar Conference Center. Almost 200 military retirees and their spouses attended the event, which included presentations on TRICARE, Social Security, the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, and VA programs. In this picture, Kerri Schwegel, Outreach Coordinator from the St. Cloud VA, discusses the “Coffee Talks” program that helps new patients understand all of the services the VA can provide. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the
event on my behalf.

 Our Week in Crosby

Cuyuna Range Elementary School welcomed the Class of 2031 to tour the school and meet some of their teachers before they start kindergarten this fall as part of their Kindergarten Round Up. Pictured here: children rejoin their parents for snacks after spending time with their new teachers while the parents filled out paperwork. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.

 Our Week in Brainerd

Central Lakes College hosted a presentation from sociologist Gary Payne on Trinidad and Tobago as part of their Cultural Thursday series. Trinidad and Tobago is an oil-rich, rainforest-covered country facing the challenges of balancing extracting its natural resources while also protecting them. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the
event on my behalf.

Coming Up in Washington

This week:

  • This week the House is expected to take up H.R.4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill contains two of our amendments adopted in Committee earlier this year to provide consumers with a “one page” bill of rights and also help small to midsize airports enter new markets. 


Lake Superior Waves Crash Against Shoreline in Duluth

Click on the screen above to watch the big waves on Lake Superior during the storm last week.

Heavy winds last week caused some giant waves on Lake Superior to crash into the shoreline in Duluth last week. Rain and snow accompanied the waves bringing over 12 inches of snow to the Northland - causing local residents to get out their shovels once again. The video above was captured by my District Director Jeff Anderson on the back balcony of Fitger's Hotel in Duluth.