On July 1, 2015, several new laws went into effect in Minnesota. Many of these new laws may directly affect your life, so we’ve broken them down:
- Medical marijuana
- Foreclosure notices
- Uber drivers
- Nonprofit childcare licensing requirements
- Political donation refund program ends
- Pay raises for judges and court staff
- Long-term care insurance inflation caps
1. Medical marijuana
Medical marijuana is now available in pill or liquid form in 2 dispensaries (Eagan and Minneapolis). 6 more dispensaries are scheduled to open this summer. A doctor must certify that you have one of the following conditions:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia (severe wasting)
- Tourette syndrome
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia (severe wasting)
After a doctor’s approval, you must register with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and pay a $200 annual fee. A pharmacist with the program will then determine which treatment will work best and at what dosage. After visiting the dispensary, you must submit an online self-evaluation form before you can receive more medical cannabis.
According to the St. Cloud Times, as of June 30, 203 medical providers were registered to qualify patients for the program and 65 patients were registered.
Nursing homes, senior homes, and senior citizen organizations had previously been limited to having bingo only 2 times per week. As of July 1, the limit has been lifted.
3. Foreclosure notices
A notice of foreclosure was previously required to be published in a newspaper, but did not specify about the newspaper location. As of July 1, notice must be published in the county where the foreclosure sale will be held, and if no newspaper exists in that county, it can be posted in a newspaper in an adjacent county.
4. Uber drivers
Uber and Lyft drivers or those who use a smartphone app to offer a private alternative to taxis now must obtain liability insurance as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This applies when drivers are logged in to the apps or are transporting a passenger.
More public defenders
$6.48 million will help cover the hiring of 36 new public defenders due to concerns that current public defenders have caseloads that are too heavy along with more complex cases.
More help investigating child porn and human trafficking
To help combat the growing problem of child pornography and human trafficking, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) will receive $11.4 million to hire 6 computer forensic examiners, a forensic scientist, 5 fingerprint examiners, and other special agents.
Crime victims services and civil legal services
$1.35 million will help improve crime victims services and civil legal services will receive $879,000 to help victims of domestic violence.
Combating terrorist recruitment
$250,000 will be used to create a strategy to combat terrorist recruitment into groups like ISIS.
College tuition relief
Students at 2-year colleges will get a tuition freeze for 1 year the have tuition reduced by 1 percent the following year.
Students at 4-year MnSCU universities will see an average increase in tuition of $233 this fall, but may experience a tuition freeze in 2016.
Early Childhood Education
Head Start, school readiness programs, and preschool scholarships for low-income families will receive more funding.
There will be a 2 percent increase in per-pupil funding for schools, including $12.5 million to help improve American Indian schools.
7. Nonprofit childcare licensing requirements
K-12 nonprofit programs may apply to be exempt from licensing requirements. The programs would need to inform parents/guardians about their lack of licensure and will not be eligible for childcare assistance payments. The nonprofit programs must be open before and after school or during seasonal breaks as well as include structured activities.
8. Political donation refund program ends
The Political Contribution Refund program where individuals could donate up to $50 to state candidates and receive that amount back from the state expires for 2 years. Eliminating this program will save the state almost $9 million.
The process for doctors to become licensed to perform medical procedures via remote control technology has become more streamlined. Doctors will be regulated by the states where their patients live.
10. Pay raises for judges and court staff
Judges and court staff may receive 4 percent annual raises that will cover health insurance premium increases.
Emergency Response Teams
New equipment and training for St. Cloud’s hazardous materials response team and Duluth’s emergency response team will be funded with $900,000. These teams will be better prepared to respond to disasters, such as oil train derailment, a growing concern with oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota being transported across the state.
$5 million has been allotted for rail crossing safety improvements.
12. Long-term care insurance inflation caps
Inflation on long-term care insurance has been capped at no more than 1 percent a year, compared with the previous law that allowed up to 3 percent annual inflation increases.
While you won’t be directly affected by all of these laws, they are designed to improve the lives of Minnesotans by saving us money and making us safer. Some are seen as controversial while other laws haven’t been widely publicized. How do you feel about the new laws we’ve listed here?
Sources: MPR News – 10 new Minnesota laws that kick in July 1, Star Tribune – Laws affecting bingo, Uber, tuition and much more will take effect, St. Cloud Times – New laws starting July 1 affect tuition, senior bingo