Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota

Protecting Minnesotans

The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens - not only from criminals on the street but from unsafe merchandise in our stores, unsafe products in our communities and unscrupulous business practices that bring financial ruin to consumers.

Consumers deserve products that have been tested and meet strong health and safety standards. However, public concern has grown about the safety of many imported products from China - whether they are toys or charm bracelets, seafood or pet food, tires or toothpaste.

In 2007, 29 million toys were recalled for being unsafe - from trinkets made entirely of lead, to toys with small parts that children could choke on, to products such as Aqua Dots that contained dangerous mind-altering chemicals. Worse, agencies that protect our consumers, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have seen years of staff and budget cuts, leaving them ill-equipped to perform their jobs adequately.

In addition, our financial markets and health care markets have undergone rapid change in the last few years. The housing market saw the emergence of predatory lenders that offered risky loans to homeowners and evaded the traditional financial safeguards to protect consumers. In health care, companies that control and distribute vital medications buy and sell the rights to those drugs - often with a priority on increasing profits, not caring for patients.

In this complicated economy, consumers need an advocate in Washington, someone who will fight to make sure that there's a "cop on the beat" to police the safety and integrity of consumer goods, financial services and health care products.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am fighting to make sure that the agencies charged with keeping Americans safe are vigilant in doing their job to protect American consumers, young and old, from hazardous products.

Since coming to the Senate, I have focused on making sure the products on our shelves and in our homes are safe and that consumers get a fair deal in today's economy. Our accomplishments include:

  • Passing the most sweeping reform of our consumer product safety laws in decades. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 that was signed into law in August 2008, gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission the additional authority, resources and staff to enforce consumer protection laws. In addition, the law contains three provisions I authored.
    • The first bans lead in children's products. Believe it or not, until now there has been no mandatory federal lead standard for children's products.
    • The second provision requires companies to stamp "batch numbers" on children&s products and their packaging so that parents can quickly identify when a product in their home has been recalled by the government for safety reasons.
    • The third bans industry-paid travel by members and staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumers must have confidence that their consumer regulators are free of influence by the industries they supervise.
  • Passing a new law to protect children from unsafe swimming pools. President Bush signed into law legislation that I helped write to improve safety in the nation's swimming pools. I took a personal interest in the issue of dangerous swimming pool drains after a horrific accident in the summer of 2007, when six-year-old Abigail Taylor of Edina, Minnesota, was partly disemboweled by the powerful suction of a wading pool drain. After months of surgeries and hospital care, Abigail tragically died of complications from those injuries. It turns out this was not an isolated incident.
    • Government statistics show dozens of cases in which children were injured or trapped by the powerful suction of these pool drains. Yet legislation to correct the problem had been stalled in Congress for years.
    • After consulting the Taylor family and national child safety experts, I wrote two crucial amendments to the pool safety legislation which had been pending before Congress for years. One made tough new safety standards retroactive to existing pools that are intended for public use and the other required public pools with single drains to install the latest drain safety technology. Both amendments were included in the final bill.
    • One of my proudest moments as a Senator was the night when I called Abigail's father, Scott Taylor, to tell him we had adopted the legislation and that the President was signing it into law.
  • Advocating for airline passengers, workers and communities at a time of industry consolidation. In early 2008, Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines announced that they were planning to merge. This announcement represented a turning point in the history of the airline industry. I have advocated for the position that any merger should serve the interests of our travelers, workers and communities, not just the interests of Wall Street. When the proposed merger was announced, I wrote to the CEOs of Delta and Northwest demanding specific assurances that the merger would protect jobs, preserve quality service and robust competition, and I pushed for hearings before the Commerce Committee.

As Minnesota’s U.S. Senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities to protect the interests of Minnesota families and communities:

  • A cell phone consumer bill of rights. A decade or so ago, cell phones were a novelty and a luxury. Today they are an integral part of the way we communicate - and for many people, the only phone they own. Yet the wireless industry continues to operate under rules from two decades ago. Under these outdated rules, consumers often feel the cell phone companies have the upper hand, writing restrictive contracts with punitive and confusing provisions. To help level the playing field between consumers and the wireless companies I have written legislation - a cell phone consumer bill of rights - with a simple but important goal: to enable consumers to make the best choice that fits their individual needs. My bill would require cell phone companies to pro-rate their Early Termination Fees, so that consumers have greater freedom and don't have to pay prohibitive charges to change companies if they feel their provider is not delivering the service they promised or if their needs have changed. It would also require cell phone providers to produce, simple, easy-to-read bills and to furnish customers with complete, accurate information about service quality and coverage. Competitive markets work best when consumers have full access to information, and that is the overriding purpose of this legislation.
  • Keeping children safe from predators. As a former prosecutor, I know there are criminals who are intent on victimizing children. Federal support is important to local law enforcement and the criminal justice system to make sure sex offenders can be tracked, because we know they are not afraid to move across state lines. That is why I supported the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Database Act, which establishes a publicly-available national database of sex offenders. I also support the V-Chip, Internet filters and other new technologies that give parents greater control over what their kids see on TV and what they can do on the Internet. As a cosponsor of the KIDS Act, I will continue to fight for additional protections to safeguard children against online predators.
  • Protecting online privacy. Internet advertising has become ever more sophisticated at tracking and gathering information about our online behavior, raising concerns that consumers' privacy may not be properly protected. Advertising can enhance the consumer's online experience by providing the revenue to support free online news, content and services, but we must protect consumers from new technologies that might dig too deep into their personal information or share it with others to make a profit.

Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main Line: 202-224-3244
Main Fax: 202-228-2186
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Main Line: 612-727-5220
Main Fax: 612-727-5223
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1134 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Main Line: 507-288-5321
Fax: 507-288-2922

121 4th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Main Line: 218-287-2219
Fax: 218-287-2930

Olcott Plaza, Suite 105
820 9th Street North
Virginia, MN 55792
Main Line: 218-741-9690
Fax: 218-741-3692