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Commerce finance bill focuses on cannabis, insurance fraud

Members of the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee listen to testimony on the commerce finance bill April 17. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Members of the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee listen to testimony on the commerce finance bill April 17. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Because this is not a budget year for the Legislature, any finance bills introduced are usually relatively slim.

In other words, there are no thousand-page “omnibus” bills in sight.

The House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee supplemental budget bill, which members approved Wednesday, is a case in point.

On its way to the House Ways and Means Committee, it would make only a handful of supplemental appropriations in four areas largely through modest reallocations of previously allocated dollars.

Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) sponsors HF5295, which as amended, would provide the following fiscal year 2025 funding:

  • $5.5 million to the Department of Health for substance use treatment, prevention and recovery grants;
  • $2.73 million to the Office of Cannabis Management for enforcement purposes and a product testing and reference lab; and
  • $1.85 million from a special revenue fund to beef up the Commerce Department’s insurance fraud efforts.

An additional $1.74 million would go to the attorney general’s office in the 2026-27 biennium to enforce the Minnesota Consumer Data Privacy Act.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Office of Cannabis Management

About half of the $2.73 million proposed for the Office of Cannabis Management would go toward the enforcement of temporary regulations established by last session’s legislation legalizing adult use recreational cannabis, said Interim Director Charlene Briner.

House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee 4/17/24

The rest would be used to operate a cannabis product testing and reference lab, which Briner said would be “critical to protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans who choose to consume these products or who use them for medical purposes.”

The lab would be integral to efforts to prevent the entry of illegal cannabis into the marketplace and to initiate product recalls in the event of adverse events from tainted cannabis products.

Insurance fraud

The $1.85 million to combat insurance fraud would come from an increase the amount insurers doing business in Minnesota must annually pay into the insurance fraud prevention account, a special revenue fund the Commerce Department uses to fund its fraud bureau.

The same amount would also be available in each future year to staff the bureau with highly trained, certified police officers that investigate insurance fraud.

Commissioner Grace Arnold said the funding boost is needed because the current funding only covers 48% of the bureau’s operating costs.

Department of Health programs

The $5.5 million for the Health Department would expand the reach of its substance use treatment, recovery, and prevention grant programs, said Assistant Commissioner Maria Sarabia.

“This proposal gives us administrative funds to be able to create a statewide prevention campaign, to provide technical assistance, and fund staffing to ensure that the grants are administered in an effective and efficient way,” she said.

The money would also strengthen the relationship the department has with the Office of Addiction and Recovery, she said, and “refines and broadens the cannabis education pieces and allows for programs to address other substances for greater efficiency and impact.”


What’s in the bill?

The following are the bills that have been incorporated in whole or in part into the commerce committee’s supplemental finance bill:


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