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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michelle (Shelly) Christensen (DFL)

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Legislative Update - August 1, 2019

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
It’s hard to believe we’re already in August, but there’s still much of the summer to enjoy! With August comes new laws and new events that you can read about below.
New Laws Taking Effect August 1
Several laws that my colleagues and I passed this session take effect today, August 1, including the new hands-free law, which I covered in-depth in my previous update. This legislation prohibits holding a cell phone while driving on Minnesota roads. Drivers will still be able to make calls, text, listen to music, and get directions as long as they use voice commands or single-touch activation. Hands-free laws have reduced accidents and fatalities in other states.

Other new laws taking effect next month will:
  •  Protect seniors and vulnerable adults who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities from retaliation after they file a complaint.
  • Improve transparency in our health care system by requiring clinics to disclose facility fees so patients aren’t surprised by higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • Make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain disability license plates and permits.
  • Allow deployed service members to participate remotely in local government meetings.
  • Fully incorporate the wage theft prevention and enforcement measures passed this year. Minnesotan’s deserve to be paid for their work, and the laws we passed this year will ensure those who seek to deny workers their wages will be held accountable.
 More information about these laws and more is available here.
Minnesota’s Indoor Air Gets Cleaner 
All Minnesota residents can soon breathe easier. Also starting August 1, a new state law that I co-authored goes into effect that prohibits e-cigarette use in workplaces where smoking is already banned. Minnesotans expect and deserve clean indoor air and this law makes sure our clean air stays free of harmful e-cigarette aerosol.
The U.S. Surgeon General and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that e-cigarette aerosol is not safe. Though the long-term health effects are still unknown, studies show that e-cigarette aerosol contains nicotine, heavy metals, formaldehyde and other carcinogens and harmful chemicals that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. This bipartisan update to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act passed overwhelmingly in the Legislature. You can learn more about e-cigarettes and other vaping products at Minnesota Department of Health’s page on e-cigarettes and vapes. More information about the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act is available here.
Property Tax Refund and Renters Credit
A quick reminder for everyone to apply for a property tax refund or renters credit before it’s too late. Many Minnesotans qualify for these refunds, but many forget to file! Take a few minutes to review the eligibility requirements and apply online here before the August 15 filing deadline.
Night to Unite
The second Tuesday of each August is “Night to Unite,” (also known as National Night Out) an annual event to further strengthen the bonds that allow our communities to succeed. Next Tuesday, August 6, neighborhoods all across the nation – including in our community – will gather for block parties. When we take the time to meet our neighbors, have a conversation, and learn a bit about one another, we can form valuable connections which promote inclusivity.

You can find more information online for the evening’s events in Stillwater and Lake Elmo. Night to Unite also gives communities an opportunity to form better relationships with law enforcement and first responders so we can prevent crime. Police squad cars and fire trucks often make appearances at the block parties, which are always a hit with kids! I firmly believe that when we approach public safety through a community-centered lens, neighborhoods can not only build positive relationships with law enforcement, but make real progress reducing crime.
Stay in Touch
If you have any questions about the new laws or the legislative process, please feel free to contact me. During the interim I’ll be back home working with neighbors to find solutions to the issues facing our community and state, and I would appreciate your input! As always, you can reach me at (651) 296-4244 or I look forward to hearing from you!


Representative Shelly Christensen
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