New laws : E-cigarette restrictions, bee studies, part-time police phased out


A number of new Minnesota laws take effect July 1, including new restrictions on where smokers can puff away on e-cigarettes.

Under the new law, e-cigarette use will be banned in day care centers, hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities, as well as government buildings, from town halls to state offices and college and university campuses.

Health groups had wanted broader restrictions, although the Minnesota-based anti-smoking Freedom to Breathe Coalition called the law a "step in the right direction." Restaurants and bars are not included in the ban.

E-cigs – battery-powered metal or plastic cartridges that heat a liquid solution containing nicotine – create a vapor that users inhale.

The devices have grown in popularity in recent years, including in Minnesota, where a new $1.60 per-pack cigarette tax went into effect a year ago, immediately driving down sales and driving up tax revenue.

The FDA in April proposed a new rule for the first time that would regulate e-cigarettes.

More new laws effective July 1:

Tanning beds

A broader health law includes a provision that prohibits anyone younger than 18 from using tanning beds that use ultraviolet light. The state already requires parental consent for children younger than 16 to use tanning beds. Bill authors say they are concerned about rising skin cancer rates.

Here's a state-by-state look at tanning bed laws.

Internet connections

New legislation will funnel $20 million to an effort to to upgrade broadband connectivity throughout the state in the next few years.

The law creates initiatives that include the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program to expand services in unserved or underserved parts of Minnesota.

Saving bees

A new law sets aside $326,000 for research on how neonicotinoids – a type of insecticide that beekeepers fear is harming their hives — are impacting colonies. Another $864,000 is earmarked for the University of Minnesota to study "sources of nectar and pollen for native pollinators and honey bees."

Experts nationwide have said they fear that bee populations – a key link in the production of many U.S. crops – are in danger. The Star Tribune has launched a new series on the dire challenges facing the state's bee population.

Smartphone kill switches

Minnesota Tuesday becomes the first state with a law that requires a kill switch for smartphones – designed to be a deterrent to thieves because the switch renders a device unusable after it is reported stolen.

The new anti-theft law is being phased in, the Associated Press notes. Minnesota used phones dealers will first be required to keep detailed records of who sold them the phone, along with video recordings of the sellers' faces.

In July 2015, all smartphones bought or sold in Minnesota will be required to have kill switch technology.

Part-time police

Local law enforcement agencies can no longer hire new part-time officers. “It’s a bill to professionalize peace officers in the state,” said Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, the bill’s sponsor and a former police chief, said. “A part-time licensed officer right now doesn’t have to have the college or the skills course that a full-time officer does.”

The state has about 175 part-time police officers, who can keep their jobs until they retire, under the new law.

Domestic violence

A new law gives victims of domestic abuse, criminal sexual conduct or stalking who fear for their safety some protection from eviction if they need to get out of a lease early.

The law allows victims to give a two-month notice to end their lease and prevents landlords from evicting renters because they have experienced domestic violence or related crimes, the Faribault Daily News notes.

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