Saint Paul, Minn. – Yesterday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Commerce budget plan to strengthen consumer protections for Minnesotans. To combat the rising rates of catalytic converter thefts, this bill includes a provision from Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), which prohibits the possession of a catalytic converter unless it was obtained in a lawful way.
“Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in our state. My bill would prohibit the possession of a detached catalytic converter with a few narrow exceptions and gives law enforcement the ability to address situations where individuals are found with multiple detached catalytic converters,” said Rep. Richardson. “This approach will hold thieves accountable and regulate those profiting from the theft. I remain cautiously optimistic the Senate will join us in acknowledging this is a significant problem we must swiftly confront.”
The bill also invests $233,000 to establish a Student Loan Advocate in the Department of Commerce to help borrowers understand their rights and responsibilities under the terms of the student loan, resolve issues they are having, and create a student loan education course. Those who owe would also have the opportunity to be connected with credit counselors in six languages (English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Chinese), leading to much better outcomes for people owing money.
The bill provides further protections regarding structured settlement buyouts, allowing the court to appoint an independent attorney evaluator to advise the court if the settlement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of the seller and their dependents. This bill also allows greater resources for the Commerce Fraud Bureau, the state’s leading law enforcement agency for insurance fraud and other white-collar crimes
There is also a provision that prohibits social media platforms from delivering harmful user-created content to people under the age of 18 through the use of an algorithm. The provision would apply to platforms with more than 1 million account holders in Minnesota.
The bill dedicates $108,000 to direct the Minnesota Department of Commerce to study disparities between Minnesota’s nine geographic rating areas in the individual and small group market health insurance rates. The study must also recommend ways to reduce or eliminate these rate disparities. The provision identifies approximately a dozen different criteria for the study, including factors that lead to disparities and impacts on various parts of the state.
You can watch the full floor debate on the House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.