Friday, July 1 is the first day of a new fiscal year, and that means bills approved by lawmakers this session officially become the law of the land... Minnesota's land, anyway.
Here's what you need to know about our new state laws:
A new law containing appropriations for agriculture, drought relief and broadband internet will provide $50.9 million from the General Fund in the 2022-23 biennium and $32.5 million in the next biennium. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko) and Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).
The provisions taking place on Friday include:
- $25 million from the General Fund to transfer to the Border-to-Border Broadband program, helping to bring broadband infrastructure to underserved communities
- The Department of Agriculture needs to re-establish and administer a grant program to assist farmers in financing new cooperatives that operate agricultural product processing facilities or market agricultural products or services
- The Agriculture Department can provide farm down payment assistance grants of up to $15,000 per eligible farmer
- The Pollinator Research Account is extended until July 1, 2025
- The Board of Animal Health can apply and receive federal money for animal disease response
- A member with cybersecurity knowledge will be added to the Food Safety and Defense Task Force
- Modifications, including eligibility criteria, to the Bioincentive Program, whereby the Agriculture Department pays eligible entities that produce qualifying advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals or biomass thermal energy
- Establishment of a soil health financial assistance pilot program
- The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute will have an additional $300,000 added to its fiscal year 2024 base for equipment upgrades and replacement, installation expenses and laboratory infrastructure for sites in Crookston, Marshall and Waseca. An additional $200,000 will be added to the base in fiscal year 2024 and thereafter to maintain levels of service.
Read more about what this new law entails here.
BUSINESS AND COMMERCE:
The Department of Commerce will be required to create and maintain a list of nonprofit credit counseling organizations and require debt collection agencies include the list in their first written communication to a debtor starting Friday.
Per the law, "Contact information for organizations that provide credit counseling services in languages other than English to individuals whose primary language is other than English must be included. The document shall include the following statement in English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Chinese:
"There are resources available to help manage your debt. The following Minnesota organizations offer debt and credit counseling services. The Department of Commerce does not control or guarantee any of the services provided by these organizations. The provision of this list is not a referral to, or endorsement or recommendation of, any organization or the organization's services."
Rep. Jordan Rasmusson (R-Fergus Falls) and Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater) were the sponsors for this new law.
Minnesota's fraud bureau got a boost from lawmakers, amending their language and policies in a bill sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) and Rep. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls).
In part, the new law expands jurisdiction of the Commerce Department Fraud Bureau and offers additional funding for enforcement staff.
The bureau's jurisdiction no longer is limited to insurance fraud; its primary jurisdiction is offenses with a "nexus to insurance related or financial crimes." For example, the bureau can now investigate financial crimes such as wage theft.
The legislation includes a supplemental budget appropriation of $870,000 from the General Fund in fiscal year 2023 for five additional peace officers in the Commerce Fraud Bureau.
The new law also:
- Requires financial institutions to file articles of incorporation with the Department of Commerce instead of the Office of the Secretary of State
- Changes language from "husband and wife" to "married couple;" in a section pertaining to safety deposit boxes
- Sets a time limit of nine years from the date of the violation for the Commerce Department to start enforcement action unless the violation is in a contract that remains in force; the limit is two years from the date of discovery of the violation in that case and would require the Commerce Department to inform companies in writing of specific instances of lack of cooperation in enforcement action
- Requires the Commerce Department first attempt informal remedies, such as a consent order or nonpublic letter of reprimand, for any alleged violation of law discovered during an examination or investigation
- Makes a library of equipment available to all law enforcement agencies to combat car theft and makes a onetime $522,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2023 for it
- Specifies vehicle manufacturers may require their dealers "to comply with reasonable requirements for the sale and service of an alternative fuel vehicle or to serve an alternative fuel vehicle customer
A new law has raised the maximum income limit for school board members from $8,000 to $20,000 annually. Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield) and Sen. Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville) are the sponsors.
Another new law in the field of education deals with the 2021 omnibus education law, with parts taking effect on July 1.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), the changes include:
- A publicly funded preschool or kindergarten program cannot have a child use an individual-use screen without engagement from a teacher or other students. A child with an individualized family service plan, an individualized education program or a 504 plan is excluded from this requirement
- All pre-K-12 education grants awarded after July 1, 2022 must be awarded through a framework that encourages the goals of the grants to be aligned to Minnesota's World's Best Workforce and the federal government's student accountability systems. Grant recipients will need to use evidence-based practices and report on their activities to the Department of Education and the Legislature.
The $70.88 million in fiscal year 2023 appropriations from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund covers more than 100 projects. The fund was established in 1988 via constitutional amendment to "provide a long-term, consistent, and stable source of funding for activities that protect, conserve, preserve, and enhance Minnesota's 'air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources' for the benefit of current citizens and future generations."
Money for the Trust comes from the Minnesota State Lottery.
Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) sponsored this law that mostly takes effect July 1.
- $26.18 million for 14 habitat and recreation projects, including nearly $7.4 million for state trail rehabilitation and enhancement
- $11.29 million for 11 projects to protect, restore and enhance land, water and habitat
- $9 million for natural resources data and information
- $6.23 million to support the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center to fund research projects to better manage invasive plants, pathogens, and pests on Minnesota's natural and agricultural lands
- $5.78 million for water resources
- $4.27 million for nine projects related to environmental education
- $2 million to replace failing septic systems to protect groundwater
- $843,000 for air quality and renewable energy projects
- $800,000 to establish a Pig's Eye Landfill Task Force to coordinate efforts to remediate and restore a Superfund site and address PFAS contamination of Battle Creek, Pig's Eye Lake and nearby groundwater
- $763,000 for the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative at the University of Minnesota
- $750,000 to provide onetime state incentive payments to enrollees in the federal Conservation Reserve Program during the continuous enrollment period and to enroll land in conservation easements
- $500,000 for an enhanced forest inventory on county and private lands
- $500,000 for continued mapping of the aggregate resource potential in the state and to make the information available in print and electronic format to local units of government for use in planning and zoning
- $500,000 to develop enterprises, supply chains, and markets for continuous living cover crops and cropping systems in the early stage of commercial development
- $400,000 to complete a centralized aquifer property database to provide needed data for site characterization
- $360,000 to assist in constructing rural and farmstead ring levees for flood protection in the Red River watershed;
- $200,000 to procure an analysis of the extent of leaded gasoline contamination in or near the cities of Paynesville, Foley, Alexandria, and Blaine, and of the threat posed by the contamination to each city's drinking water supply
- $200,000 to build and improve living snow fences consisting of trees, shrubs, native grasses and wildflowers
The law also outlines the availability of appropriations, data availability requirements, project requirements, payment conditions and capital equipment expenditures, purchasing recycled and recyclable materials, energy conservation and sustainable building guidelines, accessibility, carryforward/extensions and transfers.
Lawmakers have passed new laws aimed at protecting Minnesota's children, including the creation of Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson.
Per the law, "The foster youth ombudsperson is accountable to the governor and may investigate decisions, acts, and other matters related to the health, safety, and welfare of youth in foster care to promote the highest attainable standards of competence, efficiency, and justice for youth who are in the care of the state."
Among the ombudsperson duties will be:
- Establishing a complaint process, including submission and review
- Determining the scope and manner of investigations
- Making recommendations to the governor and Legislature
- Investigating administrative agency actions, including examining where a youth in foster care is physically placed
- The power to subpoena someone to appear, give testimony or produce documents or other evidence relevant to an inquiry
- Upon a youth's request, being present at court proceedings, conferences, deliberations and related meetings.
The Board of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson will make recommendations to the foster youth ombudsperson and staff while continuously overseeing the ombudsperson's work.
A $775,000 fiscal year 2023 appropriation will create and operate the Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson and Board of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson. Its base appropriation will be $726,000 in both fiscal years 2024 and 2025.
Rep. Jessica Hanson (DFL-Burnsville) and Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater) sponsored the law.
This new Minnesota law reorganizes and clarifies statutes for disability waivers, which are responsible for the reimbursement rates for home- and community-based disability services under Medicaid.
The law also aims to make those statutes easier to read and amend, keeping the basic format for rate calculations consistent. The Department of Human Services is now required to recommend an update to the competitive workforce factor every two years. It cannot change by more than 2%.
The law was sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Jim
Separately, slipped into the omnibus health bill that passed in late May is a provision making low-level THC edibles legal in Minnesota for the first time. THC is the ingredient in cannabis that creates a "high."
The provision taking effect July 1 allows people 21 and older to buy edible products and beverages that contain up to 5 milligrams of THC per serving, or about half of the dose found in recreational cannabis products sold in other states. The law requires the THC products to be derived from hemp, and must be limited to 50 milligrams per packages.
A devastating diagnosis for a long-time state senator triggered a bipartisan effort to provide hope and help for people living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. Lawmakers passed a bill that puts a combined $25 million to fund ALS research and caregiver support programs.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control needed to move, speak, eat and breathe. It has no cure. Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm), who sponsors the law with Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora), was diagnosed last year with ALS.
The law, which takes effect July 1, 2022, provides the following:
- $20 million in fiscal year 2023 to promote research related to prevention, treatment, causes, and hopefully an eventual cure (The Office of Higher Education will award competitive grants to applicants)
- $5 million in fiscal year 2023 to the Board on Aging, to support families caring for people living with ALS and to provide home medical respite care
The onetime appropriation for both purposes is available through June 30, 2026.
RELATED: Walz signs Tomassoni's ALS bill
Employees of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission will move from unclassified to classified service without loss of seniority under a new law passed last session.
So what does that mean? Here it is in a nutshell: State civil service includes both classified and unclassified positions, which operate under different employment laws governing hiring, discipline, and discharge decisions.
Classified state employees are hired through a competitive examination process, and can be dismissed only for just cause. Discipline decisions, up to and including termination, must follow the procedures laid out by a collective bargaining agreement, plan, or existing state rules on workplace grievances.
The commission's research director will remain in the unclassified service.
Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) sponsor the law.
Race horses eventually reach so-called "retirement" just like humans do, and a new law that takes effect July 1 will allow dollars from the state breeders fund to also be used to support the adoption, retirement and repurposing of racehorses.
The fund gets its money largely from fees, taxes, and set-asides on race track and card club activity, including a tax on the live racing handle at Canterbury Park and Running Aces.
The breeders fund is managed by the Minnesota Racing Commission. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL-White Bear Township) and Sen. Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville).
Also under the state government subheading, three people who were wrongly imprisoned by the state will split just over $813,000 in relief under the Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act. It provides a compensation process in cases where a person was exonerated of a felony for which they were wrongfully incarcerated.
The three people receiving relief are:
- Benjamin Hill, who will get $423,212 after being wrongfully imprisoned and placed on supervised release for five years;
- Joseph Livingston, who will receive $225,000 after wrongly spending two years and seven days in prison.
- Bryan Bemboom, who was awarded $165,103 from wrongly serving 23 months in prison.
Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown) and Sen. Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo Township) sponsored the bill.
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