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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Linda Runbeck

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you and your family have had a chance to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine this month. It’s hard to believe that July is over.

Hands-Free Law Takes Effect

Today, Thursday, Minnesota’s hands-free law went into effect. This new law places prohibitions on holding cellphones and other wireless communication devices while behind the wheel.

This change will have a significant impact on how we will use our cellphones while driving, and I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to become familiar with this new law as we work to make our roads safer.

The new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but ONLY by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.

Individuals will no longer be able to physically hold a cellphone while operating a vehicle. Also, a driver may not use their phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.

Exceptions are allowed for individuals to obtain emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.

GPS and other systems that can only be used for navigation are exempt from the Hands-Free law as well as in-car screens.

Please reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns regarding the new law or visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website:

In addition to the hands-free law, a number of other new laws take effect on August 1st. For a full list of these new laws, click here.

Turmoil at DHS

There has been a great deal of drama and staffing turmoil at the Department of Human Services (DHS) in recent weeks. I have discussed DHS in previous updates due to the fraud, waste, and abuse in its Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP).

We recently heard that as of July 12, the investigation by DHS into CCAP had not even started.

Around this same time, two senior officials at DHS handed in their resignations, with very little warning and no explanation. Days later, Commissioner Tony Lourey resigned.

The day after Commissioner Lourey’s resignation, his chief of staff resigned, and then the next day, the first two senior DHS officials rescinded their resignations and were hired back to DHS.

Maddeningly, there has been no explanation or transparency from the Administration. With the Department taking up nearly 30% of the state’s budget, Minnesotans deserve answers about what’s going on.

Staying in Touch

It was great to join Senator Karin Housley and other advocates at a listening session to hear about issues affecting the care of the disabled community and caregivers.

I’m pictured here with Rep. Brian Daniels, Rep. Laurie Pryor, and new University of Minnesota President, Joan Gabel. The new president is in the first month of her tenure and I look forward to developing a fruitful working relationship with her as she takes charge of the University.

I encourage you to reach out to me to share your questions and concerns regarding state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-2907 or via email at



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