Rice County Seeking Affordable Housing Developer; Smith touts new generic drug regulations; Elliott talks about “Coffee with a Cop”

Rice County is now accepting proposals from developers interested in building up to six four-bedroom homes to be designated as affordable lodging.

On Tuesday, the county board of commissioners cleared the use of about an acre and a half just north of the planned public safety center for the project.

When county officials announced they had purchased 109 acres off Highway 3 for the security center in late 2021, they suggested some of the land could be used for housing. While several new apartment buildings have sprung up in Northfield and Faribault over the past two years, both towns have struggled to attract owner-occupied residential developments. Developers generally see higher profit in the metro, so few are willing to invest in Rice County where housing prices are generally lower.

Housing Director Joy Watson suggested townhouses will likely be offered in the county’s state financial aid application. She and Commissioner Steve Underdahl said they would like single-family homes to be part of the development.

Once the HRA selects a developer, Director Watson will work with social service organization Three Rivers Community Action in Zumbrota to develop a proposal to apply for funding from the state housing finance agency. A decision by the agency will only be made in December.

The finished homes will be sold to people representing up to 115% of the Rice County median income, or about $100,000 a year for a family of four. County Administrator Sara Folsted said the covenants will ensure the homes will remain affordable for the average worker in Rice County even when they are sold.

Smith says the Generic Drugs Act will make a ‘big difference’

Senator Tina Smith

U.S. Senator Tina Smith has said the first bill she introduced after arriving in the Senate four and a half years ago is expected to become law this summer, and it’s a bill she says will help most people in Minnesota.

The Expanding Access to Low-Cost Generic Drugs Act is a bill that Smith, a Democrat, created with Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana aimed at ending the practice of “parking” .

“The way it works is that a big branded pharma company has market exclusivity for a number of years,” which she says is the way it should be. “But what happens then is that these pharmaceutical companies pay generic manufacturers not to put their generic drugs on the market.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s anti-competitive and it hurts consumers.”

Senator Smith said the practice has been around for over twenty years and is so widespread that it applies to any drug or any type of medicine.

Smith’s bill will change the incentive structure for generic manufacturers and encourage them to rush their products to market and grant them 180-day market exclusivity under certain circumstances, thus stopping the generic drug bottleneck. waiting to be made available.

She said generic drugs are a great way to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. They can have the same formulation, effectiveness and safety as a brand name drug, but can also be 80% cheaper.

“It’s a really good way to cut prices, and it brings us home. In 2020, 92% of generic drug prescriptions cost $20 or less. It’s very different from what brand name drugs cost, so that makes a big difference.

She said that because this is such a strong piece of legislation with such strong bipartisan support, it has been incorporated into broader “to pass” legislation that will almost certainly be sent to President Biden’s office and signed by the end of the summer. Once passed, the FDA will write the rules for implementing the law, and consumers could start to feel its results around this time next year.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with US Senator Tina Smith can be heard here

‘Coffee with a Cop’ will be a monthly event

The Northfield Police Service is well known for taking a community policing approach to its work. Police Chief Mark Elliott said that being a police officer in Northfield is not for everyone, and those looking for fast-paced activity and frequent homicide investigations will not be a good fit for this department. However, those looking to engage with the community and get to know the people will enjoy working here. A new program the ministry has just launched is a perfect example of this philosophy.

Elliott said that at least once a month a member of the Northfield Police Department will make themselves available by taking a seat at a local establishment, whether it’s a cafe, beer hall or even just a table in one of the parklets of Division Street. and invite the community to come and talk.

“We know people have questions,” Elliott said. “I get it all the time when I’m on Kwik Trip or having lunch somewhere. So we just thought, ‘Why not take some structured time to have a conversation with someone who wants to talk?’

He said similar programs with other police departments across the country have had great results, and he himself has been involved in programs like this with other departments where he has worked. In fact, Elliott said, he wanted to get the program in place sooner, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented that from happening.

The idea is for people to have answers to questions they may have been hesitant to call the police station because it’s not an emergency, or just to talk on their own. one-on-one with a policeman. Elliott said he even understands that sometimes people who want to speak may have a grievance to air.

“They just express what frustrates them. Sometimes these are things we can fix. Sometimes it’s national political agendas that we can’t address here, but at the same time what we can do is have a conversation and say, ‘Yeah, we see that as a big problem, but here’s what our local response, or here’s what’s happening locally.'”

Chief Elliott said events will change from location to location, but will work through social media and local event calendars to let the public know when and where they are happening.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott can be heard here

Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at [email protected]

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