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House committee begins work on omnibus commerce finance bill

Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold testifies before the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee March 27 in support of HF2680, the committee’s omnibus bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis)
Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold testifies before the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee March 27 in support of HF2680, the committee’s omnibus bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis)

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.

To carry out that work, HF2680, through a delete-all amendment, proposes to fund the department in the 2024-25 biennium.

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.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

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.”

House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee 3/27/23

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:

  • put a 36% cap on the interest rate payday loan companies could charge;
  • establish a student loan advocate to educate students on educational loans;
  • prohibit lenders from collecting on loans made under coercion by a third party, such as a domestic abuser;
  • enact the “Digital Fair Repair Act” to prohibit manufacturers from having exclusive rights to repair their products;
  • require health plans to limit patient co-pays to no more than $25 per one-month supply for prescription drugs used to treat chronic diseases;
  • prevent boat insurance contracts from excluding coverage for family members;
  • prohibit insurance companies from denying home or rental liability insurance to owners of certain dog breeds;
  • expand the number of used motor vehicles required to be sold with a written warranty;
  • create a Mental Health Parity and Substance Abuse Accountability Office;
  • require direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies to provide disclosure notices and obtain consent;
  • enact the “Minnesota Age-Appropriate Design Act” to prevent social media companies from using algorithms that could expose children to harmful information;
  • expand the “Senior Safe” fraud prevention program; and
  • fund body cameras for the department’s Consumer Fraud Bureau agents.


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:

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