Gov. Walz Signs Opioid Response Bill Into Law

May 16, 2022

The legislation ensures cities and counties will receive 75% of the approximately $337 million in opioid settlement funds the state expects to receive.

Gov. Tim Walz on May 10 signed into law a measure that will help the state distribute its proceeds from the multistate opioid settlement. The law, Chapter 53, received bipartisan support, passing off the House floor on a vote of 119-8 and off the Senate floor on a vote of 66-0.

The League worked with other stakeholders to negotiate the provisions in the bill, authored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont). Its passage into law is an important milestone in the continuing battle against this epidemic and its devastating impacts on Minnesota cities.

“The League of Minnesota Cities and its members showed up strong in joining with counties, townships, and the state on the extensive and collaborative work needed to maximize the amount of national settlement money coming to Minnesota,” said League General Counsel Patricia Beety in a news release issued by Gov. Walz’s office.

“The state-local government teamwork continued in efforts to pass this legislation, which will now make effective the final terms of the state-subdivision allocation agreement,” Beety added. “As a result, communities across Minnesota will soon have more direct resources to fight this epidemic, including increased abatement programs and services.”

Advisory panel recommendations

The total price tag of this settlement is $26 billion and requires state and local governments to use most of the money on opioid abatement activities. Minnesota’s share could be as much as $337 million over a period of several years.

The advisory panel that recommended the provisions in the bill was assembled by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. It included local, state, and community providers with experience and expertise in public health and delivery of services to individuals and families impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Under the panel’s recommendations, the state will receive 25% of proceeds from the settlement, and all 87 counties and large cities will receive the remaining 75%.

What’s included in the law?

Key provisions in the law:

  • Prohibit units of local government from asserting, filing, or enforcing claims that have been released as part of a statewide opioid settlement agreement.
  • Require settlement funds to be deposited directly into the opiate epidemic response fund, rather than into a special account in the state treasury.
  • Specify that money in the settlement account is to be used to:
    • Provide funding to current law appropriations in case money in the registration and license fee account is not sufficient.
    • Provide funding, through the Department of Human Services (DHS), to tribal social service agency initiative projects for child protection services.
    • Distribute grants, as specified by the Opiate Epidemic Response Advisory Council, a panel convened by DHS to develop and implement a comprehensive and effective statewide effort to address the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic in Minnesota.

About the settlement

The state of Minnesota announced in July that it joined a multistate settlement involving Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen.

This settlement comes as part of the national opioid litigation. It involves claims that the three distributors failed to fulfill their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders, and that Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.

More information

The Association of Minnesota Counties will present a webinar on the opioid settlement on June 6 at 2 p.m. The webinar will provide an update on what was included in SF 4025, review the settlement’s disbursement timeline, and highlight eligible expenditures for the settlement funds. The webinar is free, but attendees must register in advance.

Register for the webinar

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