State Rep. Melissa Hortman expressed optimism that a new law, which goes into effect on January 1, will keep our roads safer by preventing drivers under the age of 18 from talking on a handheld or hands-free cell phone while driving, except in emergencies.
"New drivers need all their attention available for driving, and cell phones can be distracting," Hortman said. "National safety data suggests we will see fewer accidents because of this law."
The teen driver law is just one of several new laws that will go into effect at the start of 2006. Beginning Jan. 1, businesses will be required to let Minnesota residents know if a security breach has put their personal data is at risk. The law requires that disclosure be made in the “most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay." Information covered includes a person’s driver’s license or Minnesota identification number, account or credit card numbers or Social Security number. If the breach affects more than 500 people at one time, all consumer reporting agencies would be notified within 48 hours of the discovery.
"Given the number of businesses that now hold personal, confidential information about consumers," said Hortman, "it was important for the Legislature to take action to better protect Minnesotans from identity theft."
Also beginning in 2006, meth cooks will have one more bill to pay. A new law may now require people convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine to pay restitution to police and fire departments involved in an emergency response to their criminal activity. In addition, meth makers may be forced to pay restitution to any property owner who “incurred removal or remediation costs" as a result of their crime.
"Meth production and use has harmed so many lives in Minnesota, and has caused a financial burden on cities and counties," said Hortman. "From the initial response, to the investigation and clean-up, the cost can run into the thousands of dollars. This new bill will allow for some compensation from the meth makers."
Another new bill will offer protection against injury and possible death of infants by requiring licensed day care providers to perform monthly safety inspections on their cribs. Documentation of the inspections is required, and all cribs that are found to be unsafe should be removed from use and made inaccessible to children.
Finally, beginning January 1, any ATV operator born after July 1, 1987, and who is at least 16 years old, must successfully complete the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ all-terrain vehicle study course before operating an ATV on public lands. Safety certificates will be issued to those between 16 and 18 years who successfully complete the program.