Opioid advocates held a press conference, rally, and a hearing in the MN House today to raise awareness and advance bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. According to the bill’s authors, opioids have become a public health emergency in the state. More than 400 people died statewide of opioid overdoses in 2017. The legislation includes language to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable through a licensing fee. It is estimated the legislation will raise $20 million to help counties pay for costs associated with the opioid epidemic, including child protection services. The bill creates an Opiate Stewardship Advisory Council made up of legislators and health experts who will be tasked with developing a statewide approach to combat this problem. The legislation also strengthens the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, expands access to treatment programs, and requires stronger reporting from pharmaceutical companies.