The scope of work done by the Department of Commerce is broad. It oversees more than 40 industry areas in Minnesota and licenses more than 250,000 professionals and businesses to ensure that their services and products are fair, accessible, and comply with state laws.
That breadth of service is apparent in the 195-page omnibus commerce finance bill unveiled Monday in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.
Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), the committee chair and bill sponsor, said the committee plans to adopt the amendment, markup the bill and vote on it Wednesday.
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Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said the omnibus bill would provide “critical resources” for the department “to continue providing services to both consumers and businesses across Minnesota.”
She cited several new policy provisions and funding that would beef up the department’s insurance enforcement and external affairs divisions, saying they would “help ensure a strong and competitive marketplace and to better protect Minnesota consumers.”
But the provision that provoked the most feedback from testifiers Monday would prohibit price gouging by drug companies on their generic drugs.
That provision would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to identify when a drug company makes an excessive price increase. The attorney general would be empowered to take drug companies to court when they do.
The board would be funded with $1.1 million in the 2024-25 biennium and the attorney general’s office would receive the same amount to carry out its new investigatory and enforcement duties.
Other notable provisions would:
What’s in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus commerce finance bill: