Distracted driving measure among many new state laws effective Aug. 1

Several transportation rule changes are among new Minnesota laws passed during the 2019 regular and special legislative sessions that take effect Aug. 1.

The biggest change will be an expanded distracted driving law that aims to take phones out of drivers’ hands as Minnesota will join a growing list of states with prohibitions on holding cellphones and other wireless communication devices while behind the wheel.

Sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), the new law broadens the state’s existing ban on texting while driving, barring drivers from holding a cellphone or other wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or operating as a part of traffic on a street or highway.

Drivers will be required to use hands-free technology when making calls, sending messages, or accessing content — including audio and navigation software — behind the wheel.

It does not change a petty misdemeanor penalty for violations.

The law specifies that a communications device does not include a device or feature that is physically integrated into the vehicle, a GPS or navigation system that is only capable of being used for navigation purposes, or a two-way radio, CB radio, or amateur radio equipment used in accordance with Federal Communications Commission rules.

Calls and messages made or composed using a hands-free device are exempt from the prohibition, as are messages or calls placed to obtain emergency assistance. So, too, is the use of a navigation system on a device that does not require the driver to type while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, provided the driver does not hold the device with one or both hands.

Also exempt is the use of a device to listen to audio-based content in a manner that doesn’t require the driver to scroll or type while the vehicle is in motion.

Although the hands-free law has garnered the most publicity, there are several other laws taking effect Aug. 1.

Slower vehicles stay right

Part of the omnibus transportation law modernizes and clarifies requirements on operating slow vehicles on the right side of the road and moving out of the left-most lane to allow others to pass.

If the roadway has more than one lane in each direction, a person must move out of the left-most lane to allow another vehicle to pass, when practicable under existing conditions. This will not apply when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway, preparing to exit a controlled-access highway on the left side of the road, the lane is designated and posted for a specific type of traffic, or the vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle.

Under the law, on “a roadway with one lane in the direction of travel a person proceeding at a speed that is sufficiently low as to create a traffic hazard must operate the vehicle as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

Work zone enforcement

Minnesota motorists will want to pay extra attention in the state’s work zones.

A measure sponsored by Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park) and Sen. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City) will allow a peace officer to issue a citation to a driver if a qualified work zone flagger has reported a violation of flagger directions, speeding or various traffic control laws.

The new law requires that, to establish probable cause, the work zone flagger’s report must include a description of the vehicle and the time of the incident. The flagger must first have completed training related to flagging operations and traffic laws. The officer is authorized to issue a citation if it is within a four-hour period following the time of the incident.

More EpiPen users allowed

More people will be allowed to administer epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, to help someone having an allergic reaction.

“Authorized individuals” will be added to existing statutes governing the use of EpiPens, alongside “authorized entities” and the law clarifies they qualify for this standing through the successful completion of a training program.

A provision states that the possession and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors at public schools will be determined by the appropriate school district.

Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) are the sponsors.

Clinic fees disclosure

Provider-based clinics will need to disclose facility fees for nonemergency services before treatment.

Intended to ensure patients are not surprised by separate charges resulting in higher out-of- pocket expenses than expected, the law will require prominently posted and easily accessed statements informing patients of potential separate charges relating to use of the facility. Website information must be included.

Laboratory services, imaging and other services provided by health care staff not employed by the clinic will be exempt from the notification requirement.

Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington) and Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) sponsor the law.

Retaliation in nursing homes

A new law, in part, provides a framework for licensure of assisted living facilities and assisted living facilities with dementia care by Aug. 1, 2021.

However, a portion taking effect two years sooner prohibits a nursing home or housing with services establishment that uses assisted living title protection from retaliating against a resident or employee if the resident, employee or person acting on the resident’s behalf files a good faith complaint, makes a good faith inquiry, asserts a right, indicates a good faith intention to file a complaint, files a maltreatment report in good faith, seeks help from or reports a crime to the nursing home or others, seeks advocacy assistance, files a civil action, participates in an investigation or legal proceeding, contracts with a service provider other than the nursing home or places an electronic monitoring device in the resident’s private space.

Per the law, illegal retaliation could include any form of discrimination, restriction or prohibition of visitors, withholding of food or care, discharge or transfer.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point) are the sponsors.

Duty to warn

Mental health professionals will be required to disclose private information to law enforcement agencies, the potential victim and the family of the client if that client communicates a serious threat of physical violence to themselves or a specific, potential victim.

The law will also extend these requirements to include applicants for licensure and students or interns practicing professional counseling as part of an educational program.

The change is one of two technical corrections made to health licensing in the law. The other modifies the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy’s reciprocity requirements for licensed professional counselors, licensed professional clinical counselors and licensed alcohol and drug counselors who have practiced for at least five years, by eliminating the requirement that licensure requirements in the other state to be substantially similar to those in Minnesota.

Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington) are the sponsors.

CEMTs can serve

Community emergency medical technicians will be permitted to serve on a basic life support ambulance service.

Under current law, their authorization is limited to medical response units, which are organized at the local level and provide initial medical care, before an ambulance service arrives.

Proponents say the change will clarify existing law and correct an oversight.

Another change makes services provided by community paramedics via telemedicine covered under Medical Assistance.

Rep. John Huot (DFL-Rosemount) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) are the sponsors.

Meeting participation

A new law will make it possible for small governing bodies to hold meetings, in some circumstances, when members are absent due to military deployments.

In the past, if a member of a small governing body, such as a city council, was unable to attend the group’s regular public meetings, it could be difficult for the body to function. The meetings require a quorum — a certain number of members in attendance, often a majority — in order for official action to be taken.

The open meeting law does allow absent members to participate via interactive television, but only if the location they participate from is also open to the public. This was not possible in some cases, such as illnesses or deployments, where public access is not possible or permitted.

Sponsored by Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park) and Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault), the new law allows members of a governing body who are away on military service to participate in up to three meetings per year via interactive television from non-public spaces.

The law also requires meeting minutes to name each member participating remotely and explain why.

Sex offender, DWI changes

Provisions within the omnibus public safety and judiciary law taking effect Aug. 1 include policies impacting sex and predatory offenders and changes to penalties for driving while under the influence of a substance.

Among the changes related to sexual offenders, the law will increase the maximum penalty to 15 years for dissemination of child pornography for a profit or for using a minor in a sexual performance or pornographic work if the victim is under age 13 or if the offender is a repeat offender or registered as a predatory offender and increase the maximum sentence for possession of child pornography to 10 years for offenses that involve a victim under the age of 13. 


As for driving, a person’s snowmobile, ATV and motorboat operating privileges must be revoked when they fail a lawfully administered test to determine if the person was operating a motor vehicle under the influence. This further conforms to the so-called “Little Alan’s Law” enacted in 2018, which expanded the prohibition on operating off-road vehicles following a conviction for a driving while intoxicated offense and eliminated the driver’s license revocation exemption for off-road DWI offenses.

The law also expands the list of prior convictions that enhance an offense to first-degree DWI by including impaired driving-related criminal vehicular operation convictions in other states if the other state’s statute conforms with Minnesota law.

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) are the sponsors.

Agriculture policies

Sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin) and Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), the omnibus agriculture policy law makes a number of technical and policy changes to regulations surrounding aquaculture, pesticides, nurseries, food handlers, eggs, milk, cheese, loans, open-air swine basins and other provisions.

Also, the Agricultural Best Practices Loan Program and several sections of public drainage law will be modified based on recommendations made by the Drainage Work Group.

The work group was established in 2006 to foster science-based mutual understanding about drainage issues and to develop consensus recommendations for drainage system management, related water management and drainage law.

Changes include:

• removal of the project loan total cap;

• allowing counties without a county attorney to hire any competent attorney as county representation in all drainage proceedings;

• allowing drainage authorities to use a new method to assess drainage system repair costs to lands contributing runoff to the system by calculating the relative runoff and relative sediment delivery;

• requiring a drainage authority to determine whether to conduct a redetermination of benefits when petitioned by more than 25 percent of landowners of benefited or damaged lands; and

• removing a requirement that final hearings for redeterminations be heard within 30 days of the property owner’s report being mailed. Hearings will need to occur 25 to 50 days after the final hearing notice date.

Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) sponsor the law.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders.
More about the issue:
According to the NCMEC map there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the "crimes" range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant....all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals indicate are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.
The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. Google: Frightening and High
A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that: 
a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser; 
b) 34.2% were family members; 
c) 58.7% were acquaintances; 
d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers; 
e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home; 
f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)
There is a tremendous need to fund programs like "Stop It Now" that teaches about grooming behaviors and other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety. 
Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin?
We support the principles of Restorative/Transformative Justice; restore the victim, restore the offender AND restore the community.
Lastly, our country is proud to be 'the incarceration nation' with 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated.