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New law equalizes disability parking rules throughout state

The rules for disability parking at meters are now uniform around the state, under a new law signed this week by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The new rules allow up to four hours of free parking at most meters for disabled drivers. (Thirty-minute meters are not covered.)

Studies show that four hours is enough time for disabled drivers to complete most activities — even dinner and a show — considering it takes extra time for many people with disabilities to get in and out of their vehicles, according to Joan Willshire, executive director of the Minnesota State Council on Disability. (Full disclosure: I currently have a contract with the council to monitor the status of legislation at the Capitol.)

The new law also requires a 50 percent discount for disabled parkers in city-owned lots and ramps. That’s to encourage disabled drivers who must park for long periods to use the lots and free up on-street spaces.

Minneapolis and St. Paul already have successfully used these rules for several years, but now it will be the same in all cities throughout the state.

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