The Senate bill was approved last week and the House bill was approved on Tuesday. The work from home aspect in both bills is identical. The House bill contains an additional provision regarding credit counseling. Here is the house version:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 332.33, subdivision 3, is amended to read:
Licenses issued or renewed and registrations received by the commissioner of commerce under sections 332.31 to 332.44 shall expire on June 30. Each collection agency license shall plainly state the name and business address of the licensee, and shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the office where the business is transacted. The fee for each collection agency license is $500, and renewal is $400. The fee for each collector registration and renewal is $10, which entitles the individual collector to work at a licensee’s business location or in another location as provided under subdivision 5b. An additional branch license is not required for a location used under subdivision 5b. A collection agency licensee who desires to carry on business in more than one place shall procure a license for each place where the business is to be conducted.
This section is effective June 1, 2022.
Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 332.33, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:
Work from home.
An employee of a licensed collection agency may work from a location other than the licensee’s business location if the licensee and employee comply with all requirements under this section that would apply if the employee were working at the business location.
This section is effective June 1, 2022.
[332.365] CREDIT COUNSELING ORGANIZATIONS; DEBTORS.
Duties of commissioner.
(a) The commissioner shall develop and maintain a document that includes the contact information for nonprofit organizations domiciled in Minnesota that provide credit counseling services to debtors. Credit counseling services include but are not limited to (1) helping debtors understand their rights and responsibilities, and (2) working with debtors, creditors, and collection agencies to satisfy debts. Contact information for organizations that provide credit counseling services in languages other than English to individuals whose primary language is other than English must be included. The document shall include the following statement in English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong,
Vietnamese, and Chinese:
“There are resources available to help manage your debt. The following Minnesota organizations offer debt and credit counseling services. The Department of Commerce does not control or guarantee any of the services provided by these organizations. The provision of this list is not a referral to, or endorsement or recommendation of, any organization or the organization’s services.”
(b) The document shall be no more than one 8-1/2 by 11-inch sheet of paper. The commissioner shall maintain the document and make it publicly available on the department’s website in a printable format. The commissioner may update the document no more than once per year and must notify all licensed collection agencies after an update occurs. A collection agency has 120 days from receiving notice from the commissioner of an update to apply the changes to the document.
Duties of collection agency.
A collection agency must include the document described in subdivision 1, with the initial written communication sent to a debtor, if the initial communication is performed via United States mail, e-mail, or text message.
(a) This section is effective July 1, 2022.
(b) The document required to be developed and maintained by the commissioner under subdivision 1, paragraph (a), must be completed on or before July 1, 2023. The document may be updated for the first time by the commissioner no earlier than September 1, 2024.
(c) A collection agency must meet the requirements of subdivision 2 on or after September 1, 2023.
Section 3 of the House bill, which is not contained in the Senate bill, is scheduled to be adopted by the Senate this week. This means that the Senate will in effect adopt the House version.
Once that happens, the entire bill will go to Governor Walz for signature.
Pursuant to section 3, the Minnesota Department of Commerce will develop a list of not-for-profit credit counseling entities domiciled in Minnesota. Once that list is developed by the Department, it will be disseminated to collection agencies. Agencies will then have until September 1, 2023 (next year) to begin sending out the Department-developed form listing several not-for-profit credit counseling entities.
Beginning September 1, 2023, the form must be included with the initial written notice whether that notice is sent by regular mail, email or text message.
The work from home aspect will become effective June 1, 2022.
Our lobbyists are now working with Governor Walz’s office so that the bill can be signed before the current statute’s sunset provision goes into effect. This will ensure that collection agency staff will continue to have the flexibility afforded them through the current work from home statute.
The vote in the Senate was unanimous. The vote in the House was nearly unanimous as well. Given the overwhelming bipartisan votes in both Minnesota Congressional bodies, it is anticipated that Governor Walz will soon sign the permanent work from home bill into law.
A special shout out goes to our lobbyists, as well as a big shout out to ACA‘s Industry Advancement Fund which helped fund this important proactive lobbying effort that will help agencies throughout the country who utilize “work from home” collectors while collecting from Minnesota consumers.