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RELEASE: Legislators, Attorney General Keith Ellison Highlight Agenda to Unrig Minnesota’s Economy

Monday, February 26, 2024

Minnesota Legislature




February 26, 2024 

Legislators, Attorney General Keith Ellison Highlight Agenda to Unrig Minnesota’s Economy

ST. PAUL, Minn. — This morning, Senator Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville), Senator Liz Boldon (DFL- Rochester), Rep. Kristi Pursell (DFL-Northfield), and Representative Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis) spoke alongside Attorney General Keith Ellison on legislation to restore Minnesota’s competitive marketplace and curb corporate monopolies in industries across the state. Among the legislation highlighted is a ban on “junk fees,” agricultural right to repair, medical debt reform, and antitrust penalties.

Minnesotans are urging us to take action to level the playing field for workers and families, in an economy tilted to benefit powerful corporations and wealthy interests,” said Rep. Greenman. That’s why we’re advancing our agenda to unrig Minnesota’s Economy and put market power back in the hands of Minnesotans.

The medical debt reform proposal includes banning medical debt from affecting someone’s credit score and cutting interest on medical debts from 8 to 0 percent. One in 10 U.S. adults owes at least $250 in medical debt.

“Every Minnesotan should be able to get the care that they need without fear of facing devastating debt or bankruptcy. In my work as a practicing nurse, I hear from patients far too often that this is not the reality for many, in part because of predatory debt collection practices that put profits over people,” said Sen. Boldon. “I’m proud to author this legislation and in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to protect the financial well-being of Minnesota families.” 

“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 estimates 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 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,” said Sen. Port. “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.”

The Right to Repair legislation requires manufacturers of certain electronic products to make documentation, parts, and tools for diagnosis, maintenance, or repair available to independent repair providers and product owners on fair and reasonable terms.

"Minnesota farmers have enough to worry about without having to go to the manufacturer of their equipment for repairs every time something as small as a sensor malfunctions," said Rep. Kristi Pursell (DFL-Northfield), vice-chair of the House Agriculture Committee. "Farmers are asking us to expand our Right to Repair laws to help them remain profitable as they support their families and our local economy, and that's why I am proud to author this legislation."