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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Law to assist military honor guards will take effect

Friday, June 22, 2012
Dear Neighbor, A new law I authored to ensure military honor guards are compensated in a timely manner for their efforts will go into effect July 1. Honor guards are paid up to $50 each time they provide services, such as playing “Taps,” at the funeral of a military veteran. The problem was payments to certain organizations sometimes were delayed because of a loophole. A local resident brought this issue to my attention. They indicated honor guards associated with Legion and VFW posts with charitable gambling were being told they would not receive a reimbursement until the end of the fiscal year. The Minnesota Dept. of Veterans Affairs apparently was using an interpretation of statutory language to delay the reimbursements for those honor guard groups. It was wrong to single out some posts and hold their reimbursements. Just because an honor guard is “associated” with a post does not mean the post is actually giving them money. My bill (H.F. 1903) unanimously passed both legislative bodies and I am pleased we could rectify this situation by eliminating this loophole. A number of other new laws also are going into effect July 1. Below is a summary of some notable changes. Click here for complete summaries of all laws passed by the 2012 Legislature. Sincerely, Dean Accelerating the fight against aquatic invasive species Helping business owners, fighting the spread of invasive species and improving water management are among the major themes of this year’s omnibus environment and natural resources law. New law establishes an advisory inspection process to help businesses proactively comply with regulations. Rather than find out the hard way that they’re in violation of state laws or rules and face financial penalties, the idea is that businesses can contact state agencies and request an advisory inspection. If an inspector identifies violations, the business can avoid any penalties as long as they’re corrected within 60 days. Several agencies are exempted from the provisions, including the Department of Revenue. The law also states that the exemption from penalties does not apply to conduct involving fraud and various other circumstances. The law increases civil penalties for transporting certain aquatic invasive species and doubles the fines for repeat offenders. Conservation officers will also be granted authority to order watercraft and other equipment to be removed from waters when necessary, and the Department of Natural Resources can require mandatory inspections at water access sites. The state’s ban on placing watercraft with invasive species attached into public waters is expanded to include all water-related equipment. H.F. 2164 Paramedic services reimbursed In 2011, the Legislature directed the human services commissioner to determine which community paramedic services could be covered under Medical Assistance and determine payment later for those services. A new law authorizes community paramedics to now be reimbursed for such services, effective July 1, 2012, or upon federal approval, whichever is later. For example, Medical Assistance may cover chronic disease monitoring, medication compliance, and immunizations and vaccinations for eligible recipients when the services are provided by a community paramedic. These services are covered for individuals who frequently use emergency rooms, or for whom the provision of community paramedic service would prevent admission to or allow discharge from a nursing facility or prevent readmission. H.F. 2060 Notifying an abuse victim’s parents An extra phone call will need to be made when a child is a crime victim. A new law will add to the custody order in a divorce agreement so that each party must “notify the other party if the minor child is the victim of an alleged crime and shall provide the name of the investigating law enforcement officer.” It will also require law enforcement to immediately notify a local welfare agency if the child is a victim of neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse outside the family. Parents who are under a protective order or in the Safe at Home program will have the notification provided through a third party so as to avoid direct contact with their former spouse. H.F. 1899 Travel insurance gets new definitions A new law modernizes the definition of travel insurance and regulates how travel agents disseminate travel insurance information. The new law clarifies that travel insurance does not include major medical plans, which provide comprehensive medical protection for travelers with trips lasting six months or longer, including those working overseas as an expatriate or military personnel being deployed. H.F. 2544 Buying lunchroom equipment to be easier Schools will no longer need Department of Education approval to purchase lunchroom equipment with surplus funds from their food service fund. Administrators noted that making updates to lunchrooms was too cumbersome under the previous law. H.F. 2376
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