No marriage wait times, body cameras and new drug sentences among new laws


The Minnesota State Legislature passed 11 new laws that will take effect Aug. 1.

Here's a breakdown of each one.

Drug sentencing

This law is the first time drug sentencing has been amended in Minnesota in about 30 years. The goal is to make sure drug dealers motivated by profit will spend time in prison, while addicts who could be helped through rehabilitation or probation are not sent to prison.

The law increases some sentences and shrinks other, depending on what drug was involved, whether a weapon was involved and other factors.

Marriage law

Love birds seeking immediate commitment, rejoice!

Beginning in August there will no longer be a waiting period for couples applying for a marriage license. Previously, once someone applied for a marriage license there was a five-day waiting period. Now, the license is issued immediately, assuming other legal requirements such as age are met.

Body cameras

New legislation determining how data from body cameras is to be used will go into effect Aug. 1. In short, most data will stay private.

This paves the way for many cities to start using body cameras – they'd been waiting for the legislature to decide what's public and what's private before considering body cameras.

Body tampering

Messing with a scene of death or attempting to conceal or tamper with a body will have increased penalties starting this August. If the crime involves concealing a body, a new three-year penalty will apply.

The law was proposed following Laura Schwendemann's death last October. She died in her friend's car after doing drugs, and he was scared of what would happen so he hid her body, charges said. Her body was found in a field two weeks later.

Sexual images

This law, which includes "revenge porn," prohibits the unauthorized distribution of sexual images such as a photo, video or recording if both parties did not consent to dissemination and the image was obtained or created when a person had reasonable expectations of privacy.

Body fluids

It was already illegal to transfer bodily fluids onto police officers, but only during certain times, like when they are performing an arrest. Now it's illegal all the time and will count as a felony.

DWI penalty

This law means there will be a stronger sentence for repeat drunk drivers who kill someone. It was proposed in honor of Drake Bigler – a 5-month-old who was killed by a drunk driver in 2012.

The law says the penalty for anyone involved in vehicular homicide as result of impaired driving or criminal vehicular operation will now serve a minimum of 15 years, rather than 10 years – so long as they have a prior offense.

Identity theft

Because it can take years to discover identity theft, the statue of limitations has been increased from three years to five. This only applies if the illegal activity involves at least eight direct victims or a combined loss of at least $35,000.

Black market car exports

Turns out high-end, U.S.-made cars are quite valuable overseas, sometimes several times the price paid here. This creates a black market where people will purchase a car at a local dealership, and then export it to sell it for a beefy profit.

A new law will prohibit auto manufacturers from taking adverse action against a dealer when a new vehicle is sold and exported to a foreign country, unless it can be proven that, at the time of sale, the dealer knew or reasonably should have known of the purchaser’s intent to export or resell the vehicle.

Debt settlement loophole

In 2009, a law was made setting rules for organizations providing debt settlement services, but didn't address services used to settle back tax debt. Because of that gap, there has been an uptick in complaints from people who have been scammed by these providers.

This law will close that loophole and prevent further scamming.

Closed captions

This law will mandate that TV sets in health care waiting rooms have closed captions on. The goal is accommodate for those who are deaf or hard of hearing who might be in the room.

Staff will be required to make "reasonable effort" to keep the captions switched on.

Prescription drugs

A new law allows pharmacists to give a 90-day supply of a prescription drug to a patient who first used a 30-day supply. Previously, the supply could only be extended subject to authorization by the physician who gave the prescription.

This doesn't include prescription drugs that are controlled substances.

Recovery caregiver

This law requires hospitals to provide patients the option to designate a caregiver to provide aftercare assistance at the patient’s residence following their hospital discharge.

The hospital has to provide the option within 24 hours of patient admittance, but before the patient is discharged or sent to another hospital. Patients can revoke or change their choice or initially waive the option. Caregivers will not be obligated to provide care and could choose to decline the designation.

Equipment donation

Equipment used by public works departments, cell phones or emergency medical and fire fighting equipment that is no longer needed can now be donated to nonprofit organizations. Previously, this kind of donation would have been subject to municipal tort liability.

Driving instructors

Background checks for driving instructors will be streamlined, and their finger prints will be shared with the FBI.

Agricultural policy

This new law introduces several changes to agriculture policy in Minnesota. The policy directs the Department of Agriculture to make a report analyzing farm safety issues that's due in February 2017, including causes of farm accidents and a list of farm safety programs in Minnesota.

The law also regulates the growth of elk herds. Elk management plans cannot increase herd size unless it is verified that the herd hasn't cost the state in money paid to farmer for damages. Basically, if the elk are good, their herd can grow. If they damage the farms, they can't grow.

The law also talks about vegetation, a task force and no longer needing a certificate to use pesticide on golf courses.

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