ST. PAUL – A number of new laws will go into effect Aug. 1. Here is a summary of some key changes, courtesy Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City. A complete rundown of all laws passed by the 2008 Legislature is online at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/newlaws2008-0.asp.
Graduated driver’s licenses and no text messaging
A new law requires that during the first six months of provisional licensure, a licensee cannot operate a vehicle carrying more than one passenger under age 20 who is not a member of their immediate family. That increases to three passengers the following six months.
Also during the first six months of provisional licensure, a person under age 18 is prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m., except when the driver is going between the person’s home and job or school event where no transportation is provided; the driver is driving due to a job; or the driver is accompanied by a licensed driver or state identification card holder who is at least age 25.
Other driver-related changes include:
• making it illegal to text message when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic;
• drivers are required to move a lane over when passing freeway service patrol, road maintenance and construction vehicles parked or stopped on a roadway;
• a second set of disability plates could be issued to a vehicle owner if issuance is approved by the Council on Disability; and
Internet ticket sales protected
The so-called “Hannah Montana” law makes it a gross misdemeanor to sell, distribute or use software to get around security and move to the front of an Internet ticket-buying line.
Tenants can pay landlord’s delinquent utility bill
Tenants can restore utility service by paying outstanding utility charges that would otherwise be the responsibility of the landlord.
Foreclosure notice needed for renters
A new law requires that the notice of mortgage foreclosure be given to prospective tenants. If the property is transferred to a new owner following foreclosure, and the new owner seeks to evict an existing tenant, they must be given at least two month’s written notice to vacate.
‘Good faith’ now law
A new law allows a policyholder to sue their insurance company for not settling a claim in “good faith,” meaning they can prove that the insurance company did not have a reasonable basis for denying a claim. The insurance company must also have known that it had no reasonable basis, or acted with “reckless disregard” for the lack of reason.
Closed meetings will be taped
All public body closed meetings must be electronically recorded, unless otherwise prohibited by attorney-client privilege. The law mandates these recordings be preserved for at least three years.
Advocates not compelled to talk
Attorneys, physicians, psychologists, sexual assault counselors and clergy are not now required to disclose information about their clients or members without consent. A new law gives domestic abuse advocates the same protection.
Employment protection for attendance at military events
An employer cannot fire or take employment action against any employee, or keep them from attending certain events relating to the military service of the employee’s spouse, parent or child to which the employee is invited. Certain employee-related stipulations apply.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s third term in the legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004 and 2006.