Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislative Update: March 18, 2024

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Dear Neighbors,

In these past five weeks at the capitol, my colleagues and I have worked together to move legislation through committees in preparation for the House Floor. We are building on the historic achievements of last year, advancing legislation that improves the economy for working families, increases access to affordable housing, protects consumers, and makes health care affordable for all Minnesotans. 



Here is an update from the Capitol.

Protecting Consumers from Junk Fees

This week in the Commerce Committee, we heard legislation to ban junk fees. Junk fees include charges that corporations use at the end of a transaction, such as convenience and processing fees — which can cost Americans tens of billions of dollars annually. Consumer Reports estimate the average family of four loses more than $3,200 per year to junk fees, and much more if they make a significant purchase such as a car. Utilities, cell phone bills, cable bills, rent, student fees, and more are all subject to junk fees.

Junk fees are often an underhanded way for corporations in Minnesota to hike prices and conceal the true cost of their product or service for families, in a time when many families are struggling to meet basic needs. These fees allow companies to show a lower dollar amount at the start of a sale, but by the time you’re ready to pay, they’ve added so many unexplainable fees that the final cost can be almost twice as much as the original number. This bill would give consumers a clear, up-front understanding of an item’s true cost and allow them to make informed decisions about the products and services they choose.

Ending Price Gouging

Last year, I wrote legislation which banned price gouging during times of emergency. Minnesotans should not be subjected to price gouging, especially during an emergency when they’re trying to survive and care for themselves and their family. Price gouging is a morally repugnant practice and it hurts those who have been most impacted by crises; it’s time for our state to stand up for each other and hold these bad actors accountable.

This week, we strengthened that law by adding tree trimmers and damage restoration services. Last year during some severe weather last summer, some of these services charged more than 25% above the average price. This hurts families and hurts small businesses seeking to operate legitimately.

You can view the debate and vote here.

Investing in Renewable Energy

Minnesota’s heritage is deeply rooted in our environment, and our way of life depends on our abundant natural resources. Minnesotans enjoy our outdoor recreation, a tradition we pass to each generation. 

However, the threat the changing climate poses must not be underestimated, and Minnesota should lead the country in our response. Protecting our future means protecting the Earth and all it has to offer. We must take an active role in leaving our children a state as pristine and beautiful as what we enjoy today. That’s why I’ve written legislation introducing pilot thermal energy projects in Minnesota.

These products would allow us to use this renewable energy produced by the Earth and show great promise in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability. The legislation would also require a report to ensure we are bringing down pollution while meeting our energy needs, ensuring we meet our 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 goals.

Federal Assistance for Small Businesses Affected by Warm Winter

The 2023-2024 Minnesota winter has provided us with a historically warm period. While many have enjoyed foregoing their warmest coats this year, snowy winters are essential to the success of Minnesota’s winter tourism and outdoor recreation industries. They are also how so many Minnesotans make a living with snow services.

Affected small businesses can now apply for federal assistance to help keep them on their feet. You can apply here.

House Approves 101 Environmental Projects 

Minnesotans take pride in our legacy of environmental stewardship. That’s why the House passed legislation to fund 101 projects across our state that protect our wildlife, water, air, and soil. 


The funding, which comes from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, uses a portion of our state lottery proceeds to ensure our environment and natural resources are protected for generations to come.

EMT Training/Paramedic Scholarships Available

DFLers are working to address the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) statewide shortage. One of these initiatives that I supported, funds a one-time appropriation of $3 million for up to 600 scholarships of $5,000 starting in the fall of 2024 to be awarded by June 30, 2026. If you or anyone you know might be interested in this opportunity to serve the public and give back to the community, you can find eligibility information here

Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime if you need assistance or have questions at or 651-296-5513.

It’s an honor to represent our Coon Rapids and Anoka families in St. Paul.


Rep. Zack Stephenson

Minnesota House of Representatives