Several Minnesota laws take effect Aug. 1

Legislators did more than pass a subsidized stadium bill this year. There were, indeed, some laws passed in Minnesota last session and signed by the governor.

Here’s an excerpted list of some that take effect Aug. 1, as compiled by the House Public Information Services:

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE

Going after gas drive-offs

Small businesses that sell gas will see the process streamlined for collecting money owed from motor vehicle drive-offs. The law will allow a trade association acting on behalf of member organizations and retailers to serve notice and collect payments within current civil liability statutes.

Sump pump installation changes

Minnesota’s plumbing code will broaden to allow licensed waterproofing contractors to install a sump pump in an existing single-family dwelling.

ENERGY
Status quo for building power lines first

Electric utilities that own high-voltage transmission lines will still get the first crack at building new ones. Until recently, the federal government gave electric utilities the option to build new transmission lines whenever a regional planning process calls for their construction. This option is also known as the “right of first refusal.” Federal regulatory changes last year took away this right and left it up to the states; the new law basically preserves the status quo by creating a state-level “right of first refusal.”

ENVIRONMENT
Northern Minnesota state land exchanges 

State lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness could be swapped out for federal lands located outside of its borders. A new law provides for expedited land exchanges in northern Minnesota that supporters hope will benefit the state’s K-12 schools. The state currently owns school trust lands within the BWCAW that, because of their location, don’t actually generate revenue for the Permanent School Trust Fund. The law will allow these land parcels to be exchanged for others that will generate revenue.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Electronic prescriptions permitted

Doctors will be allowed to issue prescriptions electronically in instances where current law requires prescribing through a written or oral method.

Treatment options expanded

Parents of children who are deaf, deaf blind or hard-of-hearing and who need mental health treatment will have more options for where they can seek treatment for their children. Current law limits reimbursement from public health care programs for specialized mental health services to facilities located in Minnesota or in bordering states.

HOUSING
Late-fee adjustments on subsidized renters

People renting under a federally subsidized program may see their interest rate on late fees come down from the current cap of 8 percent to correspond with the federal standard. A new law clears up an “inadvertent oversight when state statutes were updated in 2010,” according to Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville), who sponsors the law with Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson).

MILITARY
Honor guard stipends increased

Members of some military honor guards will be eligible for a larger stipend for their performances. Charitable gambling organizations will be authorized to pay a per diem stipend of up to $50 per person for military honor guard, color guard or “marching unit” performances. The stipend was previously capped at $35 per person.

Awards for non-military serving with distinction

The governor can award medals for valor, distinguished service and good conduct, as well as certain marks of distinction, to officers and enlisted personnel who served in war or other declared emergencies, provided the honor does not overlap with federal service medals.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Selling forfeited firearms to dealers

Law enforcement agencies will be permitted to sell forfeited firearms to federally licensed firearms dealers. Under current law, any contraband weapons that are subject to summary forfeiture must be destroyed, unless they are used by the appropriate law enforcement agency for training purposes. As stated in statute, 70 percent of the sale proceeds will go to the law enforcement agency, 20 percent to the prosecuting agency and 10 percent to the state’s General Fund.

Inmate gardening programs

The Corrections Department is to establish an inmate gardening program at each correctional facility where space and security allows. The provision is part of the omnibus corrections law. The produce is to be used for feeding the offenders; excess produce will be donated to food shelves or charities.

Other provisions in the omnibus law will:
• allow victims who want to be informed when their offender is released from prison or a secure hospital to be notified electronically;
• allow the Department of Corrections’ Fugitive Apprehension Unit to apply for a search warrant;
• bar offenders convicted of murder, manslaughter, criminal sexual conduct, assault, drive-by shooting, assault, robbery, arson and other specified crimes from participating in the Challenge Incarceration Program; and 
• eliminate an annual department performance report, instead reverting to a biennial report. This is expected to save approximately $8,000.

Civilian Police Review changes

A new law will allow Minneapolis to give its law enforcement personnel the same rights and privileges as other law enforcement agencies across the state. Under current law, the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority has a statutory exemption from compliance with the Peace Officer Discipline Procedures Act. The law will prohibit the authority from making binding findings of fact about police complaints and imposing discipline on peace officers, and, like other authorities, can only make advisory recommendations.

Harsher vulnerable-adult penalties

People who intentionally neglect a vulnerable adult or mistreat a child could face a more serious criminal charge. The new law creates a felony crime for intentional deprivation of a vulnerable adult, such as with food, clothing, shelter or health care, when the caregiver “is reasonably able to make the necessary provisions.”

Firearm-silencer rules

Federally licensed firearms dealers, manufacturers or importers will be permitted to possess silencers for the purpose of selling them or firearms tested with silencers for authorized activities. A silencer partially suppresses, but does not actually fully eliminate, the sound of a gunshot. The sale and possession of firearm silencers is currently prohibited, except for certain law enforcement and wildlife control activities.

Genital mutilation penalties

Within the state’s domestic violence statutes is a list of offenses that qualify a person for an enhanced offense, potentially leading to a harsher sentence. The crime of female genital mutilation has been added to the list.

Fighting synthetic drug sale, use

The goal of a new law is to help keep synthetic drugs — also called designer drugs — out of storefronts and off the streets by making them more difficult to sell. The new law will enhance the penalty for selling such substances to a felony, expand the list of illicit synthetic substances and grant the Board of Pharmacy expedited rulemaking authority to handle new chemical formulas used by drug producers.

TRANSPORTATION
School bus crossing arm requirement

A new law requires all school buses used in the state that are manufactured after Jan. 1, 2013, to be equipped with a crossing control arm on the front right bumper that automatically expands out whenever the bus is stopped and the flashing red lights are in use. The law also makes updates to use the most recent version of national standards for manufacture of school buses, beginning with buses manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Restored pioneer vehicles titling

The intent of a new law is to create a titling process that allows for pre-1919 manufactured vehicles to have a pioneer plate, have a title that does not say the vehicle is reconstructed, and use vehicle identification numbers that are already stamped on the engine or frame.

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