Cara Schulz is a stage-four colon cancer patient. The diagnosis has a very low survival rate and a very high level of pain. “Trying to survive cancer, you are in levels of agony where you don’t realize it, you rip your own hair out, you can’t scream, you can’t gasp, you don’t realize you’re crying.” Schulz adds, “I did not know that a human being could endure that level of pain and continue to live. I literally can’t describe it.”

No stranger to politics, Schulz is a Libertarian who has come to the Minnesota State Capitol before and she currently serves on the Burnsville City Council. As she’s been watching legislation addressing the opioid epidemic, she’s concerned about access to pain medications that have worked for her without creating an addiction. “I am getting contacted by so many people hearing what they are going through. I can’t abandon them the way they have been abandoned by their legislators,” Schulz says.

The House bill author estimates the opioid issue has cost the state about $5 billion, and Democrats are eager to take action after assuming control of the chamber where the bill died last year. “We are in the middle of opioid crisis,” says Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth).

A bipartisan issue, Senate Republican Julie Rosen has successfully worked on addressing drug epidemics before. The question is just how to make pharmaceutical companies help pay. Different bills are moving through the House and Senate, and compromise seems likely at some point during the Legislative Session.

Stay tuned to Almanac’s and Almanac at the Capitol’s ongoing coverage of the 2019 legislative session by checking out additional public-affairs stories.

Almanac airs on Friday evenings on TPT2 at 7 pm and repeats on Sundays at 9:30 am.

Almanac at the Capitol airs on Wednesday evenings on TPT MN at 7 pm and on TPT2 at 10 pm. Check out the full schedule.