Uber is staying (plus some other new laws that kick in today)


A stack of new laws passed by state lawmakers this year are now taking effect – but which ones will have the most impact on everyday Minnesotans?

The one you're probably hearing about most regards the state's new medical marijuana program, which is now officially allowing patients with any of nine qualifying conditions access to the drug in pill or oil form.

Here's a quick look at a number of other important laws effective in Minnesota July 1, 2015:

Unlimited bingo

Let the games begin.

Previously, only two bingo games were allowed per week in Minnesota's nursing homes and senior centers. Now they can hold as many as they went – as long as the prizes for a single bingo game do not exceed $10 and total prizes awarded at a single bingo occasion do not exceed $200.

You can read more about the new rules and regulations by clicking here.

Life is easier for traveling doctors

In a bid to increase access to medical help for those living in rural areas, Minnesota has joined an "interstate medical licensure compact" whose member states have agreed to make it easier for qualifying physicians to work across state lines.

Basically, the law streamlines and speeds up the licensure process for doctors who take part in "telemedicine," which often sees physicians going outside the area in which they're licensed to help those who require medical attention.

The House adds that the compact also supports "advances in medicine" that allow a doctor to work remotely – for example, conferencing with a patient over an internet video chat or through an online messaging system, according to Manhattan Research.

For more on how Minnesota's telemedicine law works, click here.

Uber stays – but with more insurance

If you rely on Uber or any other ride-sharing service to get home after a night of merrymaking on the town, fear not – they're here to stay.

While Uber had threatened to leave the state over what it described as expensive insurance requirements for its drivers, lawmakers worked out an agreeable compromise that still secures liability insurance for drivers whether or not they're carrying passengers.

Previously, they weren't covered in between fares; now, their insurance kicks in once they're logged into the app that connects them with the service, the House says.

However, different levels of insurance coverage are required depending on whether the driver is ferrying passengers or simply on duty.

Money for more crimefighters

A robust increase in public safety funding will see a bunch of new hires in the state's court system, the Department of Corrections, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

This includes roughly 36 more public defenders "to help reduce caseloads," and a 4 percent yearly pay increase for judges and court staff, according to the House.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars in funding will allow the BCA to hire a team of new forensic investigators and several special agents, many of whom will help the agency "address predatory offender trafficking," and conduct child pornography and human trafficking investigations.

The state's prison system will also get $24 million to give raises to many of its workers and "maintain current staffing levels."

Tuition relief

If you attend any two-year school in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (or MnSCU) system, you can look forward to the biggest share of the tuition relief lawmakers approved as part of a higher education bill, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Under the bill, funding for MnSCU will increase by $166 million in the 2016-2017 biennium; next year, most of that money will go toward a tuition freeze at community and tech colleges.

In 2017, students at MnSCU's four-year universities will also see some tuition relief.

Meanwhile, $22 million has been set aside for relief at University of Minnesota campuses, but most of the university system's funding will go toward an expansion of its medical school.

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