2010 Minnesota Legislative Summary
Larkin Hoffman’s Business Litigation Department has compiled a summary of the important laws enacted by the 2010 Minnesota Legislature. This update is organized by areas that will be affected by laws passed during the 2010 session.
You may simply click on the link to your area(s) of interest and find summaries of the new laws. As always, you may contact us to discuss the contents of this legislative summary or any other legal issue or concern. *
Wine, Beer, and Spirits Tastings (S.F. 2808)
Liquor stores may offer tastings of beer and spirits in addition to wine under amendments to Minn. Stat. § 340A.419. S.F. 2808 adds malt liquor and spirits to the list of beverages stores may offer at a tasting. Malt liquor is any beer containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. Tastings are events lasting four hours or less at a liquor store where those in attendance can pay a flat fee for unlimited samples of a variety of alcoholic beverages. The law is effective immediately.
The University of Minnesota (S.F. 2839)
The University of Minnesota can now sell alcoholic beverages at sports arenas including Mariucci, Williams Arena, and TCF Bank Stadium. Minn. Stat. § 340A.404, amended by S.F. 2839, will permit alcoholic beverages to be sold in premium seating areas as long as alcoholic beverages are also sold in at least one-third of the general seating area. In order to get a license, Minn. Stat. § 137.66, added by S.F. 2839, requires seventy-five percent of the revenue from liquor sales to go to student scholarships. The law is effective as of May 26, 2010.
Brewers in Basements (H.F. 2918)
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture must amend its rules to allow licensed beverage producers to locate their production line within a basement or other sub-grade area. The inspectors currently are instructed to deny permits if any production occurs in a basement. The rules apply to producers of bottled or canned beverages, including beer, soft drinks, and juice. Manufacturers will still have to pass all of the applicable food safety requirements for operation. The law is effective immediately.
Consumer and Products
Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010 (S.F. 3055)
Modern tobacco products are now regulated by Minnesota law. S.F. 3055 amends Minn. Stat. § 297F.01, subd. 19, expanding the definition of tobacco products to account for the introduction of modern tobacco products in the marketplace. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Insurance on Portable Electronics (S.F. 2510)
Vendors must now have a limited lines license to sell portable electronics insurance policies in connection with a portable electronics transaction. Minn. Stat. § 60K.381, added by S.F. 2510, also requires that in order to sell portable electronics insurance, vendors must provide specific written information and disclosures to customers at every location where portable electronics insurance is offered. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry (S.F. 2510)
Children’s jewelry containing cadmium can no longer be sold in Minnesota. Minn. Stat. § 325E.3891, added by S.F. 2510, prohibits the sale of children’s jewelry in the state of Minnesota if the cadmium on any surface coating or accessible substrate material exceeds 75 parts per million. The law is effective January 1, 2011 for manufacturers or wholesalers, and March 1, 2011 for retailers.
Use of “Live Checks” Prohibited (S.F. 2439)
Providing “live checks” will now be considered a deceptive business practice. S.F. 2439 adds Minn. Stat. § 325F.697, which prohibits the use of live checks. Live checks are negotiable checks or money orders that automatically require the consumer to purchase goods or sign up for a service when cashed. They are sometimes mailed to consumers under the guise of being a rebate check for a recently purchased item. The changes do not apply to checks sent from credit card companies as a benefit for their customers, or to similar checks from other lenders or financial institutions. Live checks issued by a lender or financial institution which have the effect of creating a loan when cashed have been strictly regulated since 1998. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Deceptive Telephone Directory Listings and Print Advertisements Prohibited (H.F. 3277)
Businesses must stop using advertisements and directory listings that give a false impression that they are located within a specific geographic area. H.F. 3277 adds a new subdivision to Minn. Stat. § 325D.46, which requires at least one owner or employee to regularly perform services on behalf of the business at that location. Misrepresentation occurs through the use of forwarded telephone calls, or fictitious or assumed business names. Merely renting an unstaffed street address, P.O. Box, or mail drop location does not constitute having a business at that location for the purposes of this statute. The law is effective August 1, 2010 and applies to all new listings and advertisements.
Lead Acid Battery Recycling Fee Increases to “at least $10” (S.F. 2152)
Retailers must add a surcharge of “at least $10” to all new car battery purchases, unless the customer trades in an old battery when they buy a new one. S.F. 2152 amends Minn. Stat. §§ 325E.115 and 325E.1151, which previously allowed a surcharge of only $5. If you forget to bring your old battery at the time of purchase, you have 30 days to return it with your receipt for a refund of the new surcharge. The law is intended to encourage recycling and compensate retailers for the increased fees they must pay to send lead acid batteries to the manufacturers for disposal. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Definition of “Identity Theft” Expanded (S.F. 2493)
Use of secret ATM scanners leads to the expansion of what constitutes identity theft. S.F. 2493 expands the definition of identity theft under Minn. Stat. § 609.527, subd. 1, to include the use of scanning devices and re-encoders for the purpose of obtaining personal information in an unauthorized manner. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Harm to Service Animals (S.F. 2990)
Preventing service animals from performing their duties is now a misdemeanor. S.F. 2990 also requires a court to order mandatory restitution for costs resulting from the criminal act including the service animal user’s loss of income, veterinary expenses, transportation costs, and service animal replacement or retraining. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
No Salvia Divinorum Possession (S.F. 2773)
Salvia divinorum, commonly sold in head shops, is now illegal. Minn. Stat. § 152.027 subd. 5, amended by S.F. 2773, makes it a gross misdemeanor to sell Salvia divinorum and a misdemeanor to possess Salvia divinorum. Salvia divinorum is derived from a Mexican herb and causes hallucinogenic effects similar to LSD. Twenty states have already made it illegal including Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The law takes effect August 1, 2010.
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out! (S.F. 2339)
The penalties for knowingly possessing, storing, or keeping a dangerous weapon on school grounds have been significantly increased. Under the amendments S.F. 2339 made to Minn. Stat. § 609.66, bringing a firearm or other weapon to school is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to five years, double the previous maximums. But the changes also lower penalties under an exception for replica firearms and BB guns. Possessing a replica firearm or BB gun on school property is now only a misdemeanor. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Closing a DNA Sample Loophole (S.F. 3116)
Starting in August, a judge may order a convicted felon to provide a DNA sample after his or her sentence has expired. All felons have been required to provide DNA samples since 2005, but a loophole made it difficult to obtain the sample if the judge forgot to order the cheek swab during the original trial. Under amendments made by S.F. 3116 to Minn. Stat. § 609.117, prosecutors can ask the court to force a former felon to submit a DNA sample. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Changes to Domestic Abuse Provisions (S.F. 2437)
A new law combines many proposed amendments to Minnesota Domestic abuse law. S.F. 2437 amends several sections of the Minnesota Statutes. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01 now allows the court to prevent abuse of pets and determine their custody in a protective order. Changes in the same section include “a reasonable area surrounding the dwelling or residence” in the area for protection in an ex parte order for protection. Minn. Stat. § 609.749 changes the name of the crime of “harassment” to “stalking,” and expands the definition of stalking to include sending repeated text messages. Minn. Stat. § 629.72 begins a pilot program of electronic monitoring to protect a victim of domestic abuse. Minn. Stat. § 629.471 increases maximum bail for non-felony domestic assaults and order-for-protection or no-contact-order violations to ten times the maximum fine for the offense. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
DWI Ignition Interlock and Other DWI Changes (H.F. 3106)
DWI offenders will now have to take a breath before they drive. H.F. 3106 amends and adds to Minn. Stat. § 171.306 to require ignition interlock to be used in certain circumstances. First-time offenders whose blood alcohol content was less than twice the legal limit can retain full driving privileges if they use ignition interlock. An offender with two or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents whose license has been revoked, canceled, or denied may apply for a conditional license subject to the use of ignition interlock and other applicable requirements.
Ignition interlock is a device installed in motor vehicles to prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath-alcohol content exceeds 0.2 percent. Additionally, the driver has to breathe into the device at certain times after the vehicle has been started. If the driver’s breath-alcohol content exceeds 0.2 percent, the car will shut down. It is a misdemeanor penalty to tamper with the device or knowingly allow a person required to use the device to operate a vehicle without a device. The device will cost an offender around $100 a month.
H.F. 3106 amends Minn. Stat. § 169A.54 by changing the 0.20 alcohol concentration limit to 0.16, twice the legal limit.
H.F. 3106 also increases license revocation periods under Minn. Stat, § 169A.52 and .54. If a first-time offender refuses to submit to a test, the driver’s license revocation remains one-year. However, if repeat offenders refuse to submit to a test, their license revocation period can be up to six years depending on the number of prior DWI offenses. For a test failure, a driver’s license will be revoked for 90 days. If the test indicates an alcohol concentration of twice the legal limit, then the license is revoked for not less than one year. Repeat offenders who fail the test can have their license revoked for up to six years depending on the number of prior offenses. An offender under 21 who fails the test will face a revocation of not less than 180 days or one year if the alcohol content is more than twice the legal limit. The law took effect July 1, 2011.
Minnesota Entrepreneur Virtual Assistance Network (S.F. 2758)
A virtual network designed to spur business development has been created. S.F. 2758, codified as Minn. Stat. § 116J.658, establishes the Minnesota Entrepreneur Resource Virtual Network (MERVN). The law authorizes the Office of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (OESBD) to raise private funds to build a virtual network designed to help business startups by providing them with access to technical assistance, grants, and other support services available from both public and private sources. The law is effective immediately.
Omnibus “Jobs Bill” (H.F. 2695)
The omnibus “jobs bill” represents the legislature’s attempt to improve jobs, business, investment, and industry throughout the State. H.F. 2695 includes a small business “angel investor” credit equal to 25% of an investment in a qualified small business. The law also matches the federal historic structure rehabilitation credit of 20% with an equal state credit for a total of 40%. Included in the law are increased financing options for energy improvements and green buildings, loans for transportation infrastructure, and expanded authority to use tax increment financing (TIF), among other provisions. The angel investor credit is effective for investments made after July 1, 2010 and before January 1, 2015. The historic structure rehabilitation credit is effective for all contracts entered into after May 1, 2010. The other provisions have various effective dates.
Larkin Hoffman Attorneys Bill Griffith and Michael Schley have written about the jobs bill in greater depth. Their articles can be found on the Larkin Hoffman webpage here and here.
Disclosure of Student Maltreatment in School Facilities (H.F. 3157)
Student maltreatment must be disclosed to parents. H.F. 3157 amends Minn. Stat.§ 626.556 requiring the commissioner of education to inform the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child who is the subject of a report of alleged maltreatment in a school facility within ten days of receiving the report. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Physical and Health Education (S.F. 2908)
New legislation focuses on policies promoting physical education for kids. S.F. 2908 (not yet codified) encourages the department of education to develop guidelines for schools to promote quality recess practices and develop a physical education course catalogue. The law took effect May 26, 2010.
A Healthy Kids Awards Program is established by S.F. 2908 to reward kindergarten through grade 12 schools that create opportunities for kids to be physically active and make healthy food choices throughout the day. The law is effective beginning in the 2010–2011 school year.
S.F. 2908 amends Minn. Stat. § 121A.215 to require a school to post its wellness policy on its website by August 1, 2010. It also amends Minn. Stat. § 120B.021 designating health and physical education as two separate subjects. The law is effective beginning in the 2012–2013 school year.
Cheat on your Certification or Licensing Exam and Pay the Price (S.F. 1494)
Cheaters never prosper, and now they can be sued. S.F. 1494 creates Minn. Stat. § 604.19 and allows a person negatively impacted by cheating on a licensing or certification exam to recover damages from the cheater, and obtain an injunction preventing further cheating. Cheating includes accessing prohibited materials during the exam, using paid professional test takers, removing exam questions or materials from the testing room, and the unauthorized distribution, sale, or purchase of exam questions, among other schemes. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Campaign Finance Laws Amended (S.F. 80)
S.F. 80 makes several changes to Minnesota’s campaign finance laws. The law amends Minn. Stat. § 10A.01 to no longer require an individual’s personal use of an automobile to be reported as a campaign expenditure. The law amends Minn. Stat. § 10A.27 allowing a first-time candidate for judicial office to accept up to $2,000 in an election year from any individual, political committee, or political fund and up to $500 in other years. The law also subjects judges to the gift ban law. The law has various effective dates.
Municipal Ward Boundaries (H.F. 653)
Cities can redraw district boundaries before legislative redistricting ends. H.F. 653 amends Minn. Stat. §§ 204B and 205.84 modifying municipal precinct and ward boundary procedures and requirements. The law allows cities that elect council members by wards to redraw district boundaries before the Minnesota Legislature has completed its redistricting process. The law took effect May 12, 2010.
Restrictions on Legislative Candidates (H.F. 655)
Candidates for legislative office must live in their district for at least six months before filing for office. H.F. 655 amends Minn. Stat. § 13.607 requiring individuals running for a legislative office to live in their district for at least six months prior to filing for the seat. The law amends Minn. Stat. § 204B.06 creating an administrative remedy to remove a person seeking candidacy from the ballot if it is determined they reside outside district boundaries. This provision took effect May 12, 2010. The law also amends Minn. Stat. § 211B.20 clarifying the rights of candidates and candidates’ volunteers to access apartments or dormitories in their districts for the purpose of campaigning. The law took effect June 25, 2010.
Voting Equipment Grants (S.F. 2629)
Counties can now replace voting equipment. S.F. 2629 (not yet codified) adds that counties can replace voting equipment with assisted voting equipment, vote counting equipment, and optical scan equipment. $300,000 from the Help America Vote Act account is available for grants to counties to help defray the costs of assisted voting equipment and vote counting equipment. $2.1 million from the Help America Vote Act account is available for grants to counties to help defray the costs of optical scan equipment. The law took effect May 28, 2010.
Disclosure of Political Spending (S.F. 2471)
Minnesota will now require better disclosure of political spending. S.F. 2471 amends Minn. Stat. § 10A.12 by adding that an association or corporation that makes an expenditure of $100 or more must make it by forming and registering an independent expenditure political fund or by contributing to an existing independent expenditure political committee or fund. If an association or corporation does not comply, it faces a penalty of up to four times the amount of the expenditure, not to exceed $25,000.
S.F. 2471 also amends Minn. Stat. § 10A.27 adding that an association that contributes more than $5,000 to an independent expenditure political committee or fund must disclose to the recipient treasurer information about the association’s members including the name, address, and amount of the expenditure attributable to each member of the association. The association is required to itemize contributions from individuals who contribute $1000 or more toward the association’s contribution to the independent expenditure political committee or fund. If the association does not comply, it will face a penalty of up to four times the amount of the expenditure, not to exceed $25,000.
Additionally, Minn. Stat. § 216B.16, amended by S.F. 2471, prohibits utility companies from charging their customers to recover political expenditures. The law went into effect June 1, 2010.
State Primary Moved to August (S.F. 2251)
Minnesota’s primary is now held on the second Tuesday in August. S.F. 2251 amends Minn. Stat. § 204D.03 to move the date of the primary election to comply with a federal law designed to give more time to count absentee ballots from overseas Americans. This year’s primary will be held on August 10.
Updates to Election Administration Laws (H.F. 3108)
H.F. 3108 amends several Minnesota statutes dealing with the administration of elections. Minn. Stat. § 201.13 now requires the Secretary of State’s Office to use the Social Security Death Index to remove deceased individuals from the voter registration rolls. Minn. Stat. § 201.157 requires the secretary of state to use department of corrections data to update the voter registration rolls based on felony conviction information. Minn. Stat. § 204C.04 gives employees the right to be absent from work in the morning or afternoon to go to their polling place. The law previously only allowed absences in the morning. Minn. Stat. § 204C.06 now includes individuals conducting exit polls among the list of persons allowed to stand within 100 feet of the polling place. New Minn. Stat. § 204D.29 also provides a comprehensive scheme for filling a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives. The new laws will be in effect before the state primary on August 10.
Department of Commerce Market Assurance Bill (S.F. 2839)
Health plans can now offer flexible benefits to individuals and small business with up to 100 employees under S.F. 2839, codified as Minn. Stat. § 62Q.188. S.F. 2839 also amends Minn. Stat. § 62L.05 by modifying the benefits a small employer’s health plan must offer by eliminating outpatient mental health and outpatient treatment of chemical dependency.
The Department of Commerce Bill makes some notice changes for employers. Minn. Stat. § 60A.084 changes the notice format employers must use when notifying employees of a change in benefits, coverage, or other restrictions in health or life insurance from the format requirements of ERISA to those of the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, Minn. Stat. §§ 61A.092 and 62A.17 require that an employer send notice to a terminated or laid off employee 14 days after the termination or layoff regarding continuation of life insurance and health care coverage. The law has various effective dates.
Business Screening Services Must Keep Records Updated (S.F. 2322)
Business screening services that provide criminal background checks for a fee must make sure that the reports they maintain are complete and accurate. S.F. 2322 amends Minn. Stat. § 332.70, defining “complete and accurate” as a record that has been updated within the last 30 days, or verified with the source of the data within the last 90 days. The law requires business screening services to delete any references to convictions which are later sealed, expunged, or pardoned, and they must update their files within 30 days of receiving new information. The law is effective July 1, 2010.
Energy & Environment
C-BED Wind Projects Modified (S.F. 3081)
New legislation clarifies what types of revenues from C-BED wind projects flow to qualifying beneficiaries and who qualifies as a beneficiary of a C-BED project. Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612, amended by S.F. 3081, also requires a developer of a C-BED project to seek eligibility from the commissioner of commerce based on the projects financing terms prior to beginning construction. The law took effect May 18, 2010.
Environmental and Natural Resources Funding (H.F. 2624)
$22.5 million has been allocated from state lottery proceeds to environmental projects based on recommendations from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. H.F. 2624, codified as Minn. Stat. § 116P, details the projects receiving allocations including state park improvements, state park land acquisition, combating aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, training programs for habitat restoration professions, renewable energy, environmental education, and planning for Minnesota natural and artificial watersheds. The law has various effective dates.
Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Law (S.F. 3275)
The Omnibus Environmental Natural Resources Law S.F. 3275 (not yet codified) designates appropriations from the Outdoor Heritage Fund to a number of projects. The projects include prairie grassland restoration, a critical shoreline habitat protection program, restoration of wetlands, and restoration and enhancement of the Sharp-Tailed Grouse habitat.
Additionally, S.F. 3275 creates new recreation laws. Boaters now must drain their boats and boating-related equipment prior to driving on public roads to prevent the spread of invasive species. Snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles that are twenty-five years old or older may be issued exempt registration that is non-transferrable. The registration is good from the time it is issued until it transfers ownership. Additional recreation law changes and amendments include: veterans with a service related disability can receive a free daily entry permit for state parks; cross country skiers will face higher annual and daily cross country ski passes; and horse riders on state land will be required to carry a horse pass. Most provisions are effective August 1, 2010.
Mercury Testing Exemptions for New Solid Waste Incinerators (H.F. 3027)
Purchases of new solid waste incinerators that meet certain requirements will now be rewarded. H.F. 3027 amends Minn. Stat. § 116.85, and encourages the purchase and maintenance of more efficient incinerators. If a facility that previously qualified for less frequent testing purchases a new incinerator and demonstrates mercury emissions of less than 50 percent of the limit for one year, retesting will be required less often. The law is effective immediately.
More Materials now Compostable (H.F. 3061)
Composting materials other than food and yard waste is now allowed under changes to Minnesota’s waste management hierarchy. Under amendments made by H.F. 3061 to Minn. Stat. § 115A.02, fish and animal waste, diapers, and non-recyclable paper may be composted, in addition to previously permissible food scraps and yard waste. The law is effective immediately.
Clean Water Revolving Fund Expanded (S.F. 2873)
The financing program to help communities build or improve wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities has been enlarged. S.F. 2873 amends Minn. Stat. § 446A.07, subd. 8, to conform with federal law, expanding the use of the clean water revolving fund. It provides three additional eligible uses for communities considering water quality projects. The law is effective immediately.
Incorporated Deputy Registrars (H.F. 1209)
Private corporations can still be deputy registrars for motor vehicle registrations. H.F. 1209 amends Minn. Stat. § 168.33, subd. 2, allowing incorporated deputy registers to keep their appointments and ability to handle motor vehicle registration and titling. The law also allows non-profit corporations to be appointed as deputy registrars. The law is effective immediately.
Protecting Auto Dealers (S.F. 2663)
Auto dealers will no longer be unfairly shut down by manufacturers. S.F. 2663 amends Minn. Stat. § 80E.13–14 to limit the types of requirements manufacturers can place on dealerships and adds to the list of unfair practices manufacturers are prohibited from using. More specifically, the law makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to require a dealer to establish or maintain exclusive facilities for the manufacturer of a line make unless it is reasonable based on the circumstances or agreed to voluntarily. The new law makes it an unfair practice for a manufacturer to require a dealer to adhere to performance standards that are not applied uniformly to other similarly situated dealers. Additionally, the law prohibits manufacturers from directly or indirectly conditioning dealers to enter into a site control or exclusive use agreements and from unreasonably denying two or more dealers’ requests to consolidate. The law took effect May 14, 2010.
Significant Changes to the Uniform Arbitration Act (H.F. 1692)
Major changes have been made to the Uniform Arbitration Act, which has been in place in Minnesota since 1957. H.F. 1692 repeals most of chapter 572 (the previous Uniform Arbitration Act), and codifies chapter 572B containing the new arbitration provisions. The law allows court ordered consolidation of multiple arbitration proceedings, permits awards of punitive damages and other relief authorized by law, and provides arbitrators with nearly absolute immunity from civil liability. The changes also include additional safeguards to ensure arbitrator impartiality. Arbitrators must disclose all interests that may affect their impartiality. If an undisclosed interest is discovered later, the award may be vacated by the court. Twelve other states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar changes. Parties can agree in writing to be governed by the new law before it takes effect in 2011. The law is effective August 1, 2011 and applies to proceedings initiated on or after that date regardless of when the arbitration agreement was made.
Important changes for business corporations, nonprofit corporations, and LLCs (S.F. 2705)
Soon, corporations and LLCs will have additional options for officer appointment and removal, will be permitted to store required documents outside of their offices, and will find it easier to modify cumulative voting procedures, among several other changes to Minnesota business organization law. S.F. 2705 amends several provisions of Minn. Stat. §§ 302A, 317A, and 322B, which govern business corporations, nonprofits, and LLCs.
Minn. Stat. § 302A.311 allows companies to give the chief executive officer of a corporation the power to appoint one or more officers. This does not include the chief financial officer, who must be appointed or elected by a majority of the board. CEOs are also allowed to remove any of the officers they appoint. A company can provide the appointment power through a provision in its articles of incorporation, bylaws, or a resolution agreed to by a majority of the board. Similarly, if the articles, bylaws, or a resolution allow it, Minn. Stat. § 317A.311 allows the president of a non-profit to appoint directors other than the treasurer, and Minn. Stat. § 322B.676 allows the chief manager of an LLC to appoint managers other than the treasurer.
Minnesota law requires business corporations to keep detailed records of many meetings, transactions, and board resolutions. Currently, the corporation must keep those records at its principal executive office. The law amends Minn. Stat. § 302A.461, allowing storage of records anywhere within the United States, as long as the records can be accessed at the principal executive office within 10 days of written request.
Cumulative voting allows shareholders to cast multiple votes for directors depending on the number of open positions. If a shareholder owns ten shares, for example, and there were five directors up for election, the shareholder would be allowed to cast 50 votes. The shareholder can allocate votes as he or she prefers, such as casting all 50 votes for one candidate. Previously, cumulative voting could only be adopted, modified, or repealed by a supermajority vote. Minn. Stat. § 302A.215 restricts the supermajority requirement to privately held corporations. Publically held corporations can now remove or modify cumulative voting procedures with a simple majority vote. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Health and Human Services
Minnesota Family Investment Program (S.F. 2855)
Food assistance to qualified households will be increased in Minnesota. S.F. 2855 provides that households with four to ten members qualifying for food and cash assistance under the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) will receive an increase in their food benefits. The law also modifies requirements for people with newborns and eligibility criteria for hardship extensions under MFIP. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
Modification of Rules for Contracts Between Health Care Companies and Providers (S.F. 2700)
Health plan companies can no longer prohibit providers from collecting deductibles or co-insurance from patients at or before the time services are provided under Minn. Stat. § 62Q.751, added by S.F. 2700. However, providers are prohibited from withholding services to a health care enrollee if they do not pay the deductible or co-insurance at or before the time of service. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Chemotherapy Deductibles (S.F. 1761)
Charging higher deductibles or co-pays for oral chemotherapy drugs is banned. S.F. 1761, codified at Minn. Stat. § 62A.3075, prohibits health plan companies from charging higher co-pays or deductibles for oral chemotherapy drugs versus those that are injected or infused.
Miscellaneous Insurance Law Changes (S.F. 2825)
Changes have been made to insurance laws. S.F. 2825 amends the Insurers Rehabilitation and Liquidation Act by clarifying rights and obligations with regard to parties involved in a netting agreement or qualified financial contract. This provision took effect April 27, 2010. The law also changes the Minnesota Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association Act by implementing new notice requirements regarding the sale of life insurance, annuity, or health insurance policies. This provision is effective August 1, 2010.
Small Employer Health Insurance (S.F. 1905)
A 20-member state-level working group will explore the possibility of expanding the small-employer health insurance market from 50 employees to 100 employees under S.F. 1905 (not yet codified). The working group’s study and report will address issues such as the costs for employers, employees, brokers, and health plans as well as the underwriting concerns, rating requirements, and the implications of the change on the health insurance market. The law is effective August 1, 2010, and the group expires June 30, 2011.
New Health Care Clearinghouses (S.F. 2852)
The list of entities regulated under Minnesota’s health insurance laws now includes health care clearinghouses. S.F. 2852 amends Minn. Stat. §§ 62J.51 and 62J.536, requiring health care clearinghouses to provide electronic connections to other clearinghouses for the exchange of patient data upon request. The law also requires health care providers and group purchasers to provide electronic acknowledgement when receiving a claim or similar information. The changes are intended to improve the clarity of the insurance information transmitted electronically. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Expansion of Good Samaritan Protections (H.F. 2709)
Organizations may register with a state agency to help relief efforts of a gubernatorial-declared disaster. In exchange, the organization gains immunity from suits for civil damages or administrative sanctions imposed as a result of its good faith efforts to give emergency care, advice, or assistance. H.F. 2709 adds subdivisions to Minn. Stat. §§ 12.03 and 12.22 and is effective immediately.
Solving Home Warranty Disputes (H.F. 3386)
A new dispute resolution process is available for home warranty disputes. Minn. Stat. § 327A.05, added by H.F. 3386, implements the new dispute resolution process through the Department of Labor and Industry. The new law also permits parties to use an alternative dispute resolution process instead of the home warranty dispute resolution process if both parties agree. The new dispute resolution process is intended to cut down on costly court battles between homeowners and contractors or builders. The law is effective January 1, 2011.
Minnesota S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act of 2010 (S.F. 2510)
Mortgage loan originators are now required to be licensed in order to make residential mortgage loans in Minnesota. Under Minn. Stat. § 58A, added by S.F. 2510, in order to get a license, an applicant must pass a written examination and submit to a background check by the FBI. The license must be renewed annually and license holders must complete continuing education for license renewal. The law is effective July 31, 2011 at the earliest.
Mortgage Foreclosure Updates (S.F. 2430)
There are more detailed notice requirements for mortgagors regarding their right of redemption and the results of the foreclosure sale. Under Minn. Stat. § 580.041 and .06, amended by S.F. 2430, the notice of redemption rights must be delivered with the notice of foreclosure. The notice of redemption rights must include information regarding what happens after the foreclosure sale, how to find out how much a mortgagor’s house sold for at a foreclosure sale, that the mortgagor can also sell his or her house, and where to get more information and advice. Additionally, the notice of redemption rights must include a warning to mortgagors that they should be cautious of individuals who approach them to buy or transfer their house to the individual for little or no money.
A person attempting to acquire fee title to the mortgagor’s property directly from the mortgagor following the sheriff’s sale, but prior to the end of the redemption period, must provide to the mortgagor, by personal delivery three days prior to entering into an agreement with the mortgagor to acquire title, notice of the results of the foreclosure sale. The notice must include the sale price, identity of the purchaser, and it must disclose that the amount necessary to redeem the house may be less than the mortgage.
S.F. 2430 also amends Minn. Stat. §§ 47.58 and 58.19 regarding reverse mortgages. The new law requires that a lender must first refer a borrower to an independent housing counseling agency before accepting the borrower’s application. After the borrower has accepted the lender’s commitment to make a reverse mortgage loan, the new law allows for a 7-day cooling-off period. In connection with the reverse mortgage, the lender cannot require the borrower to purchase an annuity, investment, life insurance, or long term care insurance. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Foreclosure Extensions (S.F. 2559)
Property owners can postpone a foreclosure sale up to 11 months if the original redemption period after the sale was scheduled to be 12 months. If they do not catch up on their payments within the 11 months, the new redemption period after a sale will be five weeks. S.F. 2559 amends Minn. Stat. § 580.07, conforming it to Minn. Stat. § 580.23, which allows a 12-month redemption period under certain circumstances. Last year the same statute was amended to allow for a postponement of five months. The law is effective May 15, 2010.
Labor and Industry
New Rules for Residential Roofers (S.F. 1886)
Roofing service advertisements are now subject to new restrictions under state law. S.F. 1886, codified at Minn. Stat. § 325E.66, prohibits advertisements that offer to consumers the payment of a homeowner’s insurance deductible in a roofing claim. Roofers who violate this provision can be sued for damages by either the homeowner or their insurer. The law also codifies Minn. Stat. § 326B.811 giving homeowners the right to cancel a contract with a roofer within 72 hours of being notified that their insurance claim has been denied and roofing contractors must refund any payments to the homeowner within 10 days of cancellation. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Definition of Apprentice Expanded (H.F. 3048)
A new law expands the definition of “apprentice.” H.F. 3028 broadens the definition of “apprentice” under Minn. Stat. § 178.06, by adding a time-based approach requiring not less than 2,000 hours or one year of continuous employment in an approved program of on-the-job learning; a competency-based approach; and a hybrid approach involving the completion of a specified minimum number of hours plus the successful demonstration of competency. The definition of “plumber’s apprentice” under Minn. Stat. § 326B.42, subd. 6 is also expanded by the law. The law is effective immediately.
Sharps Stewardship Program (S.F. 1323)
Manufacturers of “sharps” and pharmaceutical companies that make drugs used in sharps must post collection plans on the web or their websites. Sharps are discarded needles, scalpels, pipettes, and test tubes that have come in contact with blood or other infectious agents. S.F. 1323, codified at Minn. Stat.§ 116.835, requires sharps manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers that provide self-injected medication that generates sharps waste to post plans describing the manufacturers’ support of safe collection and proper disposal of sharps on the web. The law is effective January 1, 2011.
Disclosure of Public Utility Expenses (S.F. 2519)
Certain expenses of a public utility must be disclosed when filing a rate case. S.F. 2519 amends Minn. Stat. § 216B.16 requiring a public utility that files a general rate case petition to include an itemized schedule of all travel and lodging, food and beverage, recreational and entertainment expenses; board of director-related expenses; expenses for the ten highest paid officers and employees; dues and expenses for memberships in organizations or clubs; gift expenses; expenses related to owned, leased, or chartered aircraft; and lobbying expenses. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Regulation of Providers of Body Art (S.F. 525)
Providers of body art must obtain a license from the state. S.F. 525 codifies licensing standards for tattoo artists and body piercers, as well as body art establishments. Beginning in 2011, body art technicians and body art establishments must be licensed by the Department of Health. The law establishes grounds for granting temporary licensure, denying licensure, and conducting an emergency closure of an establishment. The law also states that no tattoos may be provided to people under age 18, regardless of parental consent. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
Amendments to Truck Regulations (S.F. 2846)
Truck weight and length restrictions now in conformity with federal law. S.F. 2846 amends Minn. Stat. § 169.81, subd. 3, relating to length of vehicle combinations, establishes a maximum length of 97 feet for saddlemount combinations where one truck-tractor tows other truck-tractors in a series. The law also brings truck weight restrictions into conformity with federal regulations. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Brokers Must have Three Years of Experience (H.F. 2856)
Real estate professionals must have 3 years of experience before they may take the real estate broker’s examination. The amendments of H.F. 2856 to Minn. Stat. § 82.29 were made at the request of the Minnesota Association of Realtors. The new law is effective July 1, 2011.
Local and State Government
Requesting Local Fiscal Impact Notes (S.F. 3325)
More legislators can request local fiscal impact notes. S.F. 3325 amends Minn. Stat. § 3.987, subd. 1, allowing the chairs and ranking minority members of the House Finance and Ways and Means committees to request local fiscal impact notes for proposed legislation. Currently, only the chair and ranking minority members of the House Taxes Committee have the ability to request fiscal notes. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Collaborative Governance Council Established (S.F. 2511)
A Council has been established to promote greater collaboration in state government. S.F. 2511, codified at Minn. Stat. § 6.81, establishes a nine-member council chaired by the state auditor to develop recommendations to the governor and the legislature on increasing collaboration in government. The Council will be comprised of the state auditor and one member appointed by each of the following: the League of Minnesota Cities; Minnesota Association of Townships; Association of Minnesota Counties; Minnesota School Board Association; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 5; Education Minnesota; Service Employees International Union; and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The law took effect June 1, 2010.
Guardian Ad Litem Board Established (S.F. 2880)
The State has established a new board to oversee guardian ad litem functions. S.F. 2880, codified at Minn. Stat. § 480.35, transfers the guardian ad litem function from the judicial branch to an independent seven-member board. The board will be comprised of four gubernatorial appointees and three members appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. State appropriations currently directed to the courts will also be transferred to the board. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
In-State Banks Are No Longer the Only Options for Cities and Municipalities (H.F. 3065)
Cities no longer are required to use a bank with its principal office in Minnesota for all their securities lending agreements. Mergers and consolidations in the banking industry over the past decade left Minnesota municipalities with few securities lending options. H.F. 3065 amends Minn. Stat. § 118A.05 to require only that the lender have an office in the state. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
State Employee Early Retirement Incentive (S.F. 1481)
An early retirement incentive is now available to state employees. S.F. 1481 (not yet codified) adds that a state employee may receive an early retirement incentive if he or she has at least 15 years of service in certain retirement funds, accepts the incentive by December 31, 2010, retires no later than June 30, 2011, and does not receive certain state retirement funds in the month preceding the termination of qualified employment. At the discretion of the employer, if the state employee meets these requirements, the state employee may receive in their health savings account an amount of money sufficient to pay two years worth of health and dental insurance coverage. The law took effect May 14, 2010.
Information about State Contracts Posted Online (H.F. 3589)
All state government contracts greater than $25,000 must be posted online. H.F. 3589 amends Minn. Stat. § 16C.08, subd. 4, requiring the head of a state agency administering a contract greater than $25,000 to submit a report to the commissioner of administration, who then will make the report available online. Current law only requires a hard-copy to be submitted to the Legislative Reference Library. The law took effect July 1, 2011.
Other Notable Changes
Adoption of the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (H.F. 3318)
Minnesota has adopted the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA). H.F. 3318 codifies UUFDA at Minn. Stat. § 358.110. UUFDA affirms the use of unsworn declarations made by declarants who are physically outside the boundaries of the United States when making the declaration. It provides that if an unsworn declaration is made subject to penalties for perjury and contains the information in the model form, then the statement has the same effect as a sworn declaration. It excludes use of unsworn declarations for depositions, oaths of office, oaths required to be given before specified officials other than a notary, declarations recorded under certain real estate laws, oaths related to self-proved wills, and a power of attorney. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Icy Alternatives to Embalming (H.F. 3151)
Dry ice may now be used to preserve human remains for funerals and viewings. H.F. 3151 amends Minn. Stat. §§ 149A.72, 149A.91, and 149A.94 to include dry ice as an alternative to embalming and refrigeration. If the family elects to forego embalming in favor of dry ice refrigeration, the body must be buried or cremated within four days. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
No Private Transfer Fees (S.F. 3361)
“Private transfer fees” cannot be imposed when conveying land from one person to another under Minn. Stat. § 513.73-76, added by S.F. 3361. A private transfer fee is required under a private transfer fee obligation. A private transfer fee obligation is a declaration or covenant recorded or filed against the title to real property or any other contractual agreement or promise whether or not filed or recorded. Any private transfer fees recorded, filed, or entered after May 20, 2010 are void and unenforceable. The law also implements new notice requirements for existing transfer fee obligations. The law took effect May 20, 2010.
Use of Eminent Domain by Public Service Corporations Clarified (H.F. 1182)
Public Service Corporations are no longer exempt from several state eminent domain statutes. H.F. 1182 amends Minn. Stat. § 117.189 requiring public service corporations to abide by several eminent domain statutes, from which they are otherwise exempt, for the construction or expansion of a 100-kilovolt or greater electric transmission line, or ancillary substations; and a natural gas, petroleum, or petroleum products pipeline, including ancillary compressor or pumping stations. The law is effective immediately.
Drainage System Laws (S.F. 364)
Drainage system laws in Minnesota will soon be updated. S.F. 364 provides that the Board of Water and Soil Resources is directed to convene informal working groups to develop recommendations for updating drainage laws. The law also directs where a person may petition for the rerouting, diverting, or impounding of drainage water and provides that if the estimated cost of the drainage project is more than $25,000, a public notice will be required in a trade newspaper. The existing $3,000 threshold was established in 1947. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Changes to Landlord-Tenant Law (H.F. 2668)
Landlords are subject to new restrictions in Minnesota under new law. H.F. 2668 creates Minn. Stat. § 504B.118, requiring landlords to provide receipts to tenants for rent or other cash payments. The law codifies Minn. Stat. § 504B.177 prohibiting landlords from charging a late fee for rent unless the fee was agreed to in writing and the fee does not exceed 8 percent of the overdue rent payment. This section is effective January 1, 2011, for leases entered into or renewed on or after that date. The law also codifies Minn. Stat. § 504B.172 providing that if a lease allows attorney fees for a landlord that prevails in an action or summary proceeding, a tenant is also awarded attorney fees for so prevailing. This provision is effective for leases entered into on or after August 1, 2011, and for leases renewed on or after August 1, 2012. The law also imposes new notice requirements for eviction actions when a tenant remains in a property after the redemption period has expired. This provision is effective August 1, 2010.
Cap on Value of Debt Secured by Instrument Relating to Real Estate (H.F. 2828)
An instrument relating to real estate can only be used as security for a debt if the document explicitly includes a provision authorizing such use. H.F. 2828 amends Minn. Stat. § 287.03 to clarify that the amount of the debt secured by the instrument is capped at whatever amount is expressed in the instrument. Changes are effective July 1, 2010 and apply only to instruments executed or recorded on or after that date.
Conforming Minnesota Eminent Domain Law to Federal Requirements (H.F. 3336)
Property acquired by the state government with federal transit money that no longer is needed must be offered to the former owner for repurchase at the condemnation price or the fair market value, whichever is lower. H.F. 3336 amends Minn. Stat. § 117.226 which previously only applied to federal highway money. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Pay-to-Stay Law Clarified (S.F. 2709)
Out-of-staters better think twice before “checking into” a Minnesota jail. S.F. 2709 amends Minn. Stat. § 641.12, subd. 3, providing that an out-of-state resident who is placed in a county jail, workhouse or correctional or work farm, on any sentence is subject to the pay-to-stay law. Under Minn. Stat. § 641.12, guests of the correctional system may be billed for the cost of their room and board. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Kelsey Smith Act (H.F. 2639)
Cell phone companies will now be required to disclose a customer’s call location data in the event of an emergency. Minn. Stat. § 237.82-.83, added by H.F. 2639, also known as the Kelsey Smith Act, will require cell phone companies to provide the information upon the receipt of a written request from a law enforcement agency in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm to a person who has a telecommunications device. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Laws Governing Elevators Modified (S.F. 2844)
The definition of an elevator has been narrowed under a new law. S.F. 2844 amends Minn. Stat. § 326B.163, subd. 5, removing from the definition of “elevator” manlifts in grain elevators and feed mills, as well as platform wheelchair lifts and elevators in churches. The law also amends Minn. Stat. § 326B.184, subd. 2, providing that after issuance of an initial operating permit and payment of the fee, hand-powered manlifts and electric endless belt manlifts are not subject to subsequent operating permit fees and periodic inspections that are required for other types of elevators. Additionally, special purpose personnel elevators are subject to inspection not more than once every five years; elevators located in churches that do not have attached school facilities are subject to inspection not more than once every three years; all other elevators are subject to inspection not more than once each year. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Minnesota Science and Technology Authority (S.F. 2510)
An advisory committee has been established that will develop and implement a long-term science and technology development strategy for the state. Under Minn. Stat. § 116W, added by S.F. 2510, the authority will also help small- and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits to find federal funding and assist businesses in networking with suppliers and vendors. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
State Broadband Goals Adopted (H.F. 2907)
Minnesota has set a goal to become a leader in broadband access. H.F. 2907, codified at Minn. Stat. § 237.012, establishes a state goal that all Minnesota residents and businesses have access to high-speed broadband with minimum download speeds of ten to twenty megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of five to ten megabits per second by 2015. Eight megabits are equal to one megabyte. The commissioner of commerce must report annually to certain legislators with jurisdiction over telecommunications issues on achieving these goals.
Enhanced Driver’s License (S.F. 345)
A new law creates enhanced state driver’s licenses and state identification cards that have security features approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. S.F. 345 amends Minn. Stat. § 171.01 creating enhanced state driver’s licenses and state identification cards that will be acceptable for entry into the United States as part of the federal government’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The law precludes an employer from requiring an employee to apply for or use an enhanced identification card as a condition of employment. The law is effective June 1, 2012.
Traffic Safety Laws (H.F. 3263)
Move over slow drivers. Minn. Stat. § 171.13, amended by H.F. 3263, requires that all driving manuals published by the department of transportation after August 1, 2010 be updated to instruct slow moving vehicles to use the far right lane on multi-lane roads. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Prohibited Windshield Items (S.F. 2540 )
A person is now permitted to mount driver feedback and safety monitoring equipment in his or her car as long as it is behind or near the rearview mirror on a vehicle’s windshield under Minn. Stat. § 169.71, amended by S.F. 2540. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Bicycles Exempted from Malfunctioning Red Lights (H.F. 2616)
Bicycle riders who have come to a complete stop at a traffic light may treat the signal as a stop sign if they have been waiting for an unreasonable amount of time for the light to change, or if they have reason to believe that the signal has failed to detect the arrival of their bike. Some traffic signals do not detect a bike waiting to make a left turn. The amendment of H.F. 2616 to Minn. Stat. § 169.06 gives bicycles the same rights as motorcycles at traffic lights. The change is effective immediately.
A “Fleet” Now Includes One or Two Vehicles (H.F. 3460)
“Fleet” is defined as one or more proratable vehicles for purposes of the International Registration Plan (IRP). The IRP allows companies with fleets that travel across the country to apportion the taxes and fees they pay on each vehicle across the states in which the vehicle travels. The law amends Minn. Stat. § 168.187 to conform the definition of fleet to the suggested IRP definition. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Mitigating Transportation Construction Impacts on Business (S.F. 2540)
Businesses in the Central Corridor will not see the help of “business liaisons.” Minn. Stat. § 160.165, amended by S.F. 2540, provides business liaisons to help mitigate damage to businesses when construction work to improve, maintain, construct, or reconstruct a street, highway, or rail transit project will have a substantial impact on businesses. The amendment creates an exception for the construction of the Central Corridor light rail transit line connecting downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. The law took effect July 1, 2010.
Purchase of Auto Insurance by Minors (H.F. 2879)
Minors are now allowed to buy auto insurance. H.F. 2879, codified at Minn. Stat. § 65B.136, allows persons under the age of 18 that have a legal right to own a passenger automobile or truck under Minn. Stat. § 168.101, subd. 1, to purchase auto insurance. It does not, however, require an insurer to issue coverage to an eligible minor or limit an insurer's underwriting discretion. Under Minn. Stat. § 65B.48, all motor vehicle owners must have insurance, including minors. The law is effective immediately.
Changes to Laws Governing Vehicle Window Tinting (S.F. 2370)
Selling dark tint for vehicle windows is now a misdemeanor. S.F. 2370 amends Minn. Stat. § 169.71 making it a crime to sell windows or windshields that are composed of, covered by, or treated with material that fails to comply with Minnesota’s vehicle window transparency standards. The law also makes it a crime to provide window tinting services that do not comply with state standards. Current law prohibits driving a vehicle within state borders with tinting that has a light transmittance of less than 50 percent or a reflectance of more than 20 percent with certain exceptions for side and rear windows. The law does not make it a crime to sell motor vehicles with non-conforming windows. The law is effective August 1, 2010.
Overdimensional Escort Driver Certification (S.F. 2756)
New certification will be offered to escort drivers. S.F. 2756, codified at Minn. Stat. § 299D.085, establishes a training and certification program for overdimensional load escort drivers. An overdimensional load is defined in chapter 169, and varies depending on the type of vehicle and the distance it is driven. Drivers on Minnesota roads will be required to obey traffic-control instructions given by certified escort drivers. The law becomes effective one year after rule making is published in the state register.
*Larkin Hoffman would like to acknowledge the contributions of its summer clerks, Michael Belaen, Kelly Burke and John Kvinge, for their work in preparing this legislative summary.