An interim update from your Senator 

Dear Constituents and Friends,

Happy summer! As many of you know, the 2018 legislative session ended in May. However, the work continues during the interim. I am pleased to share a summer update with some of my work as well as new laws that became effective as of August 1st.

I kicked off the beginning of summer by planning a town hall meeting in the district and attending a variety of end of session reviews including the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, breakfast with Edina Ham and Eggs, WCCO radio, Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, Eden Prairie City Council, and the Bloomington Advocacy Council, among others. I've also had the privilege to hear from many of you directly. In late May, I met with a group of constituents to learn about their concerns regarding gun and school safety and was invited to tour the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility to learn more about gun safety practices. The nonparitsan organization No Labels invited me to engage in productive conversation regarding federal and state policy. 

The Beacon Interfaith Collaborative invited me to participate in a conversation to discuss the success of securing bonding dollars for affordable housing. I also visited the Bloomington Central Station to learn about future development plans and attended the groundbreaking of the Mall of America Transit Station also in Bloomington.

In addition to these meetings and events, I was humbled at the opportunity to engage with community leaders from Cornerstone Minnesota and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Consequently, I coordinated with JCRC to host a press conference that unified legislators and many of Minnesota's faith-based leaders regarding the issue of family separation at our southern border.

I've included some other events and conferences I've attended to keep you up to date during this busy summer. While there is much more work to be done, I hope you will continue to reach out to my office and share your thoughts, questions, and concerns. It's an honor to represent your voices both at the Capitol and in our community.

Sincerely,

Melisa

 

New Laws Effective as of August 1st

To see a more comprehensive list of laws effective as of August 1st, 2018 click here.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Minnesota’s ‘move over law’ is broadened- Sponsored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Sen. Michael Goggin (R-Red Wing), a new law will require motorists to slow down on streets or highways with only one lane in the motorist’s direction when passing emergency vehicles — and other vehicles like tow trucks, road maintenance and utility vehicles — that are stopped on the side of the roadway with emergency or warning lights activated. Similarly, if it’s not possible for a driver to move over on a multi-lane street or highway, drivers are required to reduce the speed of their motor vehicle to a speed “that is reasonable and prudent under the conditions” until the vehicle has completely passed the parked or stopped vehicle. HF3249*/SF2977/CH159
  • Motorcycle permit holders gain access to interstates- Minnesota motorcycle permit holders will be able to expand their two-wheeled driving education by driving on the interstate. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) and Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), the new law will allow motorists holding a two-wheeled vehicle instruction permit to operate a motorcycle on the interstate. HF3997/SF3466*/CH122

  • DWI loophole for snowmobile, ATV use closed- A new law closes a loophole in state statute regarding DWI offenses and off-road vehicles. Sponsored by Rep. Anne Neu (R-North Branch) and Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch), the law expands the prohibition on operating off-road vehicles following a DWI conviction and eliminates an exemption that allowed drivers to keep their licenses following an off-road vehicle DWI offense. Under a prior law, a person who operated a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit was prohibited from operating those off-road vehicles for one year. The updated law expands the prohibition so that it applies to a person who commits a DWI offense in any vehicle. Also included in the updated law is the prohibition of a person who commits a DWI offense in any vehicle from operating a motorboat for a 90-day period between May 1 and Oct. 31. The new law is known as “Little Allen’s Law” in honor of an 8-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a man operating a snowmobile while intoxicated after his driver’s license had been revoked for a prior DWI offense. Additionally, the law directs the Department of Natural Resources to work with ice fish house manufacturers to increase outreach efforts explaining the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure in ice houses. It requires a report to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2019. HF3905/SF3638*/CH183

PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Mandated training for hotel employees to recognize sex trafficking- Sponsored by Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey) and Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), a new law mandates that every hotel and motel in Minnesota, with the exception of resorts, train its employees to identify sex trafficking at their establishment within 90 days of hiring them or 120 days after enactment of a new law. Effective Aug. 1, 2018, the law calls for the Department of Health to consult with the Minnesota Lodging Association and others to determine training that would be required. However, the training must include what sex trafficking is, as well as how to recognize trafficking victims and activities. Costs associated with the annual training will be paid for by the lodging facility. An exemption is provided for minor employees, restaurant workers and those who do not have direct contact with guests. It also grants civil immunity for employees from being sued for reporting what they believe is sex trafficking. HF3287/SF3367*/CH179
  • Quicker turnaround for sexual assault examination kit testing
    Procedures for handling a sexual assault examination kit will be laid out in state law.
    Sponsored by Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-Maple Lake) and Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud), the law sets consistent terminology, timeframes for kit handling and provides that victims have access to information about their kit by:
    • requiring law enforcement to retrieve an unrestricted sexual assault examination kit — one that has an accompanying release form from the patient allowing for submission to a forensic lab — from a health care professional within 10 days or receiving notice;
    • requiring a law enforcement agency to submit a rape kit for forensic testing within 60 days of its
    receipt unless it “deems the result of the kit would not add evidentiary value to the case,” and make a record, in consultation with a county attorney, stating why the kit was not submitted; and
    • allowing a victim to obtain information about the status of an unrestricted kit.
    Failure to comply with the deadlines will not affect the admissibility of the results or create a basis for case dismissal. Law enforcement agencies will need to adopt policies to govern the process of responding to victim requests to request reclassification of a kit if they initially do not want a kit submitted, but later change their mind. HF3017/SF2863*/CH160

  • Legal presumption in child support law reversed- In child support law, a court can modify an arrangement’s terms if it’s determined to be “unreasonable” or “unfair.” And any time a law is passed affecting those “unreasonable” or “unfair” terms in child support orders, the court legally presumes it to be “not substantial.” A new law sponsored by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) flips that legal presumption so any modifications in child support law will be presumed to be a substantial change in circumstances in child support orders. HF3389*/SF2885/CH118

CONSUMERS

  • ‘Safe Seniors Act’ intended to help fight financial fraud- Pitched as senior citizen consumer protections, the so-called “Safe Seniors Act” will give broker dealers and investment advisors the authority to report suspected financial exploitation of seniors to the Department of Commerce or the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. Investment advisors and broker dealers can often see when someone is trying to financially exploit seniors or other vulnerable populations — individuals 65 and older, according to the law, or legally defined as vulnerable — and the act will give them the ability to report the potential threats to the state, followed by giving law enforcement an opportunity to intervene. Abuse-reporters will have protection from civil and administrative liability. The law will allow a broker dealer or investment advisor to freeze seniors’ accounts or delay disbursements if they believe financial exploitation has occurred or will occur Rep. Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) and Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point) are the sponsors. HF3833*/SF919/CH161

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Towns can provide grants to community food shelves- A new law will allow towns to grant money to community food shelves, putting them on the same level as cities and counties. The new law, sponsored by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) and Sen. Andrew Mathews (R-Milaca), allows a town’s governing body to use money from its general fund or any other unrestricted money to provide grants to nonprofits that run community food shelves that provide food for free to people who need it. Cities have been able to provide the grants since 1995; counties since 1998. HF2636*/SF2364/CH105
  • New law will increase threshold for direct bid contracts with small businesses- A new law could help small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses get more county construction contracts. Sponsored by Rep. Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) and Sen. Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), the law will raise the threshold for counties to use direct bidding from $175,000 to $250,000, so long as the business is a certified small business enterprise or veteran-owned small business. HF3608/SF3793*/CH146
  • Cities and counties can recognize Purple Heart recipients- A new law will allow local governments to designate themselves as a “Purple Heart City” or a “Purple Heart County.” The law gives local governments the authority to use resolutions to honor U.S. military personnel who have received the Purple Heart by designating a prominent parking space at government centers, and allow them to accept donations to pay for a sign stating they are a Purple Heart city or county. The law, sponsored by Rep. Matt Bliss (R-Pennington) and Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), will allow counties and cities to display a plaque on public property, as well as honor Purple Heart recipients by proclaiming Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Day. HF3477/SF3262*/CH139

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • Regions Hospital receives permission to expand- A new law will give Regions Hospital in St. Paul the state’s blessing to build an expansion that is expected to add 60 beds to its facility. The exception to a decades-old law banning the construction of new hospitals is sponsored by Rep. Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake). This is the 28th exception in the 34- year history of the moratorium. Under the law, the hospital is to add 55 licensed beds — 15 for inpatient mental health and 40 for other services. Five unlicensed observation mental health beds are also to be added. HF3202*/SF2892/CH199
  • Child care reforms to be studied- The Department of Human Services will be ordered to consider reforming child care provider regulations. Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) and Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) sponsor a new law that requires the department to include a review of progress studying possible reforms in its annual report due the Legislature by the end of January 2019. In addition to the review, the law will require some tweaks to existing regulations. It will mandate the department consider variances to child care staff requirements and will modify circumstances under which a child care license holder must provide written notice to parents for insurance changes. It will do so by specifying that if a license holder has an automatically-renewing policy, including the annual renewal date in the initial parental notice is sufficient and valid until the insurance coverage changes or the policy lapses. HF3403/SF3310*/CH200 
  • Health savings accounts now protected from creditors- Creditors will no longer be able to target health savings accounts in attempting to collect debts. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) and Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), a new law allows protection for up to $25,000 in health or medical savings accounts, joining a list of exempted property like the family Bible, some farming equipment and public assistance. Health savings accounts are defined by the federal Internal Revenue Code. The new exemption doesn’t apply to debts from marital asset divisions or support orders. HF2391*/SF2556/CH111
  • Mental health provider requirements altered- A new law changes requirements in the multiple avenues whereby a person can qualify as a mental health practitioner. Most notably, it adds work with traumatic brain injury victims, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities to work hours that satisfy qualification requirements. The law also clarifies that a practitioner who treats children must have experience or training treating children, and a practitioner who treats adults must have a background in the treatment of adults. Under the new law, people can become certified mental health practitioners through coursework, which requires 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours in behavioral sciences or related fields, 2,000 hours of supervised work experience, and work in a day treatment program or an internship. They can also become certified mental health practitioners through work experience: the new law cuts the total amount of supervised hours to qualify through this path from 6,000 to 4,000. They can also qualify via a graduate student internship. Additionally, they can qualify via holding a bachelor’s degree with an internship, or master’s degree. Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) are the sponsors. HF3432/SF3066*/CH128

ENERGY

  • Modifications made to biodiesel laws- Fuel refiners and blenders will have a few more days to make their annual transition from one type of biodiesel fuel to another. State law requires diesel fuel sold in Minnesota to contain a certain percentage of biodiesel, a plantbased fuel that can be made from soybeans. The law requires that percentage to grow over time as biodiesel production capacity in the state increases. On May 1, 2018, the percentage of biodiesel that must be included in Number 2 diesel fuel jumped from 10 percent (B10) to 20 percent (B20). However, because of concerns over how diesel fuel with the B10/B20 blend performs in cold weather, the law says that during winter months, October through March, a lower blend of biodiesel, B5, is to be used. This creates challenges for facilities that blend and refine the fuel and must each year transition between the different blends. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck) and Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), the new law allows those facilities to have a two-week period, April 1-14, to ramp up production of the B20 blend. By April 1 a B10 blend must be reached, then rise to a B20 blend after April 14. The law also makes permanent an exemption from the biodiesel blend for Number 1 diesel fuel, used by many truck drivers, which was set to expire. HF3523/SF3596*/CH133