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 Rep. Falk Update

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PostSubject: Rep. Falk Update   Rep. Falk Update Icon_minitimeSun Feb 28, 2010 2:04 pm

Have you ever gotten a check in the mail that made you scratch your head and ask: Is this thing real? Odds are that 10 or 15 dollar check is too good to be true – and if you cash it, you’re liable to get caught up in a litany of exorbitant fees.

That’s why I have authored a bill (HF2599) that would make these deceptive “Live Check” schemes illegal in Minnesota.

Live Check solicitation schemes are relatively common – and oftentimes they target senior citizens. In a typical “Live Check” solicitation, a consumer receives a check for a small amount – usually 10 or 15 dollars – and cashes it, believing the check is a “no strings attached” refund, or rebate.

But if you cash the check you are agreeing to enroll in an unwanted service that imposes outrageous ongoing charges and fees. The consumer is often unaware that the company sending the Live Check already has access to charge your credit or checking account through an agreement with another company.

In many cases, people don’t know they’ve been tricked until it’s already too late. Unknown charges and fees start showing up on their credit card statement for high-cost, low value products or services they don’t want. Soon what looked like a quick ten bucks turns into a hundred-dollar headache.

My bill would stop these unscrupulous companies from preying on Minnesota consumers. Like Nebraska, Utah, and Alaska have already done, HF2599 would ban the use of Live Checks as a deceptive marketing practice.

The bill passed out of the Labor and Consumer Protection Division today with unanimous, bipartisan support. The bill will be heard next in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

In the meantime, I urge you to be wary of Live Check rip-offs. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Minnesotans should be vigilant in protecting themselves from these schemes and others like them. Oftentimes the difference between a good deal and a scam is right in the fine print.


As you know, last session Governor Pawlenty line-item vetoed General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) in Minnesota. That one veto cut $381 million from Minnesota hospitals and eliminated basic health care for 38,000 of our state’s poorest, sickest citizens.

I have been in close contact with each of the 9 hospitals I represent in District 20A ever since that veto took place. Their message has been clear: without a common sense solution to restore GAMC in Minnesota, deep cuts to their budgets will send premiums and property taxes up, and threaten jobs in our local hospitals.

Last week the House voted with broad, bipartisan agreement by a vote of 125-9 to reform and restore GAMC. The Senate passed the bill as well. Unfortunately, Governor Pawlenty again vetoed this important program.

Those enrolled in GAMC earn less than $8,000 per year. Eighty percent have mental health issues. Sixty percent have chronic medical conditions. Sixteen percent are Minnesota veterans who once defended our country, and now suffer from chemical dependency, mental illness, or other chronic medical conditions. Many are homeless.

Eliminating care for these individuals costs taxpayers more than actually fixing the program.

Governor Pawlenty has said he plans to auto-enroll those who have lost GAMC in to MinnesotaCare. But that plan has some problems. First, putting these people into MinnesotaCare will push other working Minnesotans out of the program. Second, it actually costs more than fixing the GAMC program.

That’s why state lawmakers from both parties have been working for months to find a better way. The bill we passed is a cheaper, common sense solution. It would reform the GAMC program while restoring health care for the poorest and sickest among us. It would provide care to 38,000 people per month at a cost of $457 per enrollee for 16 months.

The Governor’s auto-enrollment plan would provide care for only 21,000 people per month at a much greater cost of $937 per enrollee for only 6 months.

Despite the veto, lawmakers from both parties are continuing to work together to find a solution the Governor will sign. In the meantime, we are taking the necessary steps to potentially override the Governor’s veto, and responsibly restore GAMC in Minnesota.


The House and Senate voted last week to pass a jobs-targeted bonding bill (HF2700) to put thousands of people to work as soon as the ground thaws this spring. Unfortunately, Governor Pawlenty threatened to veto the bill in its entirety. For that reason, state lawmakers are continuing to work with the Governor to agree on a bill he is willing to sign.

It is critical that we get this bill passed as quickly as possible. State Economist Tom Stinson recommended we act on this bill immediately this session for several reasons:

1) To let bonds immediately, and get an estimated 10,000 Minnesotans back to work quickly
2) To get a better bang for taxpayer dollars, with drastically reduced interest rates and project bids coming in 20 to 30 percent lower than expected

Included in the bill is a provision to build a new wind turbine at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. Minnesota West currently has a very strong wind energy curriculum, but having a commercial-scale turbine as a training tool only improves the program. Falk argues putting the infrastructure on campus will have dual benefits.

This project will bring jobs and long-term economic benefits to our community and the Minnesota West campus in particular. It will train our students here in Canby, while reducing energy costs at the College. It’s the kind of local economic progress quick, decisive legislative action can make happen – and the right thing to do to help revitalize our local economy.

I will keep working to make sure this provision stays in the bonding bill, and I will keep you updated on this important bill in the days ahead. You can find out more about the bonding bill online at: http://tiny.cc/pE0qE.


Representative Andrew Falk
431 State Office Building
100 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155
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