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Baker praises Trump's opioid crisis declaration

WILLMAR — President Trump's action Thursday declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency was praised by a local lawmaker who has been a leading advocate for opioid reform following the death of his son from an accidental overdose.

Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, said the federal declaration allows agencies to expedite hiring, cut red tape, and re-direct existing resources to address opioid addiction and deaths.

"Today marks a new chance to start to turn the tide of the opioid crisis," Baker said in a statement.

"As the number of opioid addictions and overdoses continue to grow, it's important our state and federal government do what we can to stop this epidemic."

Last month, Rep. Baker and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, sent a letter Trump urging him to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Trump did so Thursday during a speech in the East Room of the White House.

Gov. Mark Dayton said "hundreds of Minnesotans lose their lives to opioid addiction" every year and that deaths caused by opioid overdoses have risen 430 percent since 2000.

Last year a bipartisan proposal sponsored by Baker would have required pharmaceutical companies to contribute a penny per pill to help fund an opioid stewardship program.

Dayton said in statement that "corporate special interests" blocked the bill from getting a hearing in the House, which he said was "shameful."

Dayton said efforts will continue to have the bill heard and passed in 2018.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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