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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL)

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Legislative Update - August 5, 2019

Monday, August 5, 2019

Dear neighbors,

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer! Since the Legislature adjourned in late May, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to connect with folks in the community. I’ve seen many familiar faces while out and about in Blaine, Coon Rapids, and Spring Lake Park this summer.

New Laws Take Effect

The laws that my colleagues and I approved this session start taking effect this summer. The budget legislation that I described in my last email became law in July. Two of my bills took effect on August 1. One makes Minnesota roads safer by requiring drivers to follow instructions from flaggers when passing through a construction zone. Another allows deployed service members to participate remotely in local government hearings.

New laws that have already taken effect will:

  • Deliver increased funding that will help meet the needs of students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Spring Lake Park Schools.
  • Ensure that Minnesotans receive an hour’s pay for an hour’s work. Minnesota now has the strongest wage theft prevention and enforcement law in the nation.
  • Provide job training and other services to Minnesotans who struggle to find or maintain employment, including people with disabilities or mental illnesses and seniors who’re becoming blind.
  • Help communities address the opioid epidemic. Drug manufacturers and distributors will pay higher fees, and the revenue will be used for treatment, prevention, and public safety.
  • Protect elderly and vulnerable adults who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. This law prohibits retaliating against residents who file complaints.
  • Create new opportunities for students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
  • Close legal loopholes that kept survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence from seeking justice.

More information about the legislation that became law at the beginning of July is available here. You can read about the laws that took effect earlier this month here.

Hands-Free Law

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted driving is a factor in one in five accidents and causes an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries every year. Many Minnesotans who’ve lost a loved one due to distracted driving shared their stories with legislators this session. Their heartbreaking tales inspired me to support the hands-free law, which took effect on August 1.

The new law is similar to policies that have reduced crashes and fatalities in other states. Drivers can only use cell phones in a hands-free mode while behind the wheel. They’re allowed to make calls, text, listen to music, and get directions without holding their phone.

Make sure that you’re using voice commands or single-touch activation if you use your cell phone while driving. If you’d like to review what’s allowed under the new law, you can find a helpful guide from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety here. The guide also has tips for going hands-free.

Property Tax Refunds

This is a friendly reminder to apply for a property tax refund before the August 15 deadline. Many homeowners and renters are eligible to receive a refund but forget to file. To see if you qualify, please visit www.revenue.state.mn.us/property-tax-refund.

Night to Unite

This year’s Night to Unite is approaching quickly. I’ll be out and about in the community tomorrow, and I’d love to stop by to visit if you’re hosting a neighborhood block party. Please feel free to give me a call at 651-296-5369 or send the details to rep.erin.koegel@house.mn.

Sincerely,

Erin Koegel
State Representative

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