Commerce

The Commerce Committee focused last session on consumer protections and fraud protection last session, passing bills that worked to prevent identity theft and make it easier for consumers to protect themselves from fraud, identity theft, and the numerous data breaches that have recently happened. The committee also passed a small liquor bill at the end of last session.

What has happened in this issue area since last session?

Data breaches from major companies that contain personal data continue to be an issue. Other stories around insurance, including the skyrocketing cost of insulin and what to do about vehicle insurance for autonomous vehicles, have also surfaced. The state’s liquor laws, written originally to protect the three-tier system, continue to be a barrier for the growing microbrewery and distillery community.

The growing microbrewery and distillery community also continue to claim that the state’s liquor laws, written originally to protect the three-tier system, continue to be a barrier.

What is expected to happen this session?

The committee will continue to work on consumer protection and fraud prevention. Legislation around the various insurances, including health insurance and prescription drug insurance, vehicle insurance, and reinsurance will likely be heard. The committee is also likely to pass another liquor bill, as it tends to be an annual occurrence.

 

Combatting insulin price increases

The cost of insulin in the United States has skyrocketed in the last several years, due in part to a lack of competition between manufacturers and an inability for consumers to bargain with pharmacies and manufacturers. Several cost control bills are likely to be introduced.

See the HHS section for more information on this topic.

 

Reinsurance

The state recently learned that the federal government isn’t covering as much of the cost of the reinsurance program as it has the last two years. Discussion of the sustainability of a reinsurance program may be part of the dialogue at the Capitol this year.

See the HHS section for more information on this topic.

 

Autonomous vehicle insurance

As companies such as Google and Tesla work on the technology to make driverless or autonomous vehicles a reality, a working group convened by the Governor has been working on the logistics. This includes deciding who is liable for damages if these vehicles cause damage or injury, and who should be liable for insurance on these vehicles.

It is likely that this issue will continue to be discussed through the legislative session, and it is possible that the Commerce Committee takes on the questions surrounding insuring these vehicles.

See the Transportation section for more information on this topic.

 

Combatting fraud in money exchanges

People are carrying less cash than they used to, which means they’re turning to other ways to pay friends back for movie tickets and lunch, to send money to roommates for rent, and even to send money to friends and loved ones. Apps such as PayPal and Venmo are taking on this new role, but that means they also have to find ways to combat the fraud that come with these transactions.

Minnesota statute requires these money exchange companies or apps to release funds to a recipient within five days of the funds being sent. However, that often doesn’t leave companies enough time to investigate fraud when transactions seem suspicious – an issue that is becoming more and more common as these apps gain more popularity.

Senate DFLers will likely take on this issue as these companies have already been at work to find ways to combat fraud effectively while ensuring their customers have access to their funds but run against the five-day time limit in state statute.

 

Updates to liquor laws

The Legislature usually takes up an annual liquor bill that contains a myriad of issues, including anything from liquor licenses for businesses and restaurants, altering or updating statute regarding Sunday sales, and other various regulations that result from the state’s three-tier liquor system.

The committee is likely to hear concerns about Sunday sales hours as well as concerns over how cider is classified in state law. There is also a state law that prevents brewstilleries, or businesses that brew both malt liquor and hard alcohol, from selling all of the business’s inventory on the premises that is likely to be addressed in legislation.

As Minnesota broadens laws around when and where liquor can be sold, legislation that allows wine to be sold in grocery stores may be discussed this year.

Other small liquor items, such as liquor licenses, updating Minneapolis’ liquor license system, and improving the business environment for the state’s microbreweries and distilleries may also be addressed.

Senate DFL Media