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Paynesville Press - July 5, 2006

New state laws go into effect

By Melissa Andrie

A number of new state laws, passed this year by the legislature, are now in effect, or soon will be. The following synopsis looks at a number of new laws that may affect local citizens or be of interest to them.

(Editor's note: New laws on taxes, recreation, driving regulations, crime, the environment, the military, and information privacy were in last week's Press.)

*Emergency drills: Schools are required to perform at least five school lockdowns, five fire drills, and one tornado drill yearly. Previously, nine fire drills and one lockdown were standard.

*Graduation requirements: One-half credit of economics required for high school graduation may be taught in a school's agriculture department. Agriculture science courses may also fulfill science credit requirements.

*Energy assistance: School districts and charter schools will receive energy assistance for 2006 equal to $3.67 per pupil for heating, fuel, and other energy costs.

*U of M Rochester campus: $5 million was allocated from the general fund for planning and development of a Rochester branch of the University of Minnesota. Currently, the U of M has a nonresidential joint campus there in conjunction with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

*Character development: Schools wishing to participate in a pilot character development program will receive $30 per pupil. Funding will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

*Adult literacy: Grants totaling $1,250,000 will be provided in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 to offset increased costs of adult literacy organizations due to high enrollments of refugees and immigrants.

*Early childhood reimbursements: Child care providers and centers with early childhood development accreditation will be paid 15 percent above the maximum rate for nonaccredited providers.

*Sex offender disclosure: Schools, daycare facilities, and other childcare facilities must notify parents if a predatory offender is given access to children at the facility through the offender's child.

*Student taxes: Local governments may not impose fees or charges on people based on their status as students in postsecondary educational institutions, or on a postsecondary institution based on the number of students attending it.

*Child care staff first aid training: All teachers and assistant teachers in child care facilities and at least one staff member on a field trip must complete first aid training within 90 days of starting work and repeat the training at least every three years. Previously, only one person in a family child care home needed such training.

*Early childhood development training: Staff of child care centers and family child care homes hired after July 1 must have two hours of early childhood development training in the first year of employment.

Health Care
*Nursing homes in Stearns, Sherburne, and Benton Counties receive increases in their reimbursements starting July 1, because of their new metro designation for operating cost reimbursements.

*Assisted living regulations: Only registered establishments providing certain services can use the term "assisted living," beginning Jan. 1. They must assist with self-administration of medication and at least three of the following seven activities: bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, transferring, continence care, and toileting.

Additionally, staff must be on call at all times, and other services must be provided, such as two meals a day, housekeeping, laundry, and socializing opportunities.

*Immigration status checks: Applicants for medical assistance and federally funded MinnesotaCare, in addition to applicants for nonfederally funded MinnesotaCare, must have their immigration status checked.

*Bird flu: $5 million is set aside for preparation for and response to a possible flu epidemic.

*Capital improvements: A nearly $1 billion bonding bill for capital improvements in education, the environment, and transportation was passed. The bill included $1 million for the section of the Glacial Lakes Trail between New London and Paynesville.

*Eminent domain: A government entity's power to use eminent domain is restricted to use for public purposes. Public purposes include rehabilitating a blighted or environmentally contaminated area, reducing abandoned property, or removing a public nuisance, all of which are strictly defined.

Public notification and a hearing are required, as well as compensation of owners sufficient for the purchasing of comparable property in the community.

*Adults-only businesses: Adult entertainment establishments - those that include certain types of live, sexually-oriented performances - must give notification of their intent to start a business 60 days before opening in a city. Cities and counties can choose to not zone for such an establishment if another is located nearby, and adults-only businesses are restricted around residential property, schools, and places of worship. Hours of operation are also restricted, and ownership is prohibited for people convicted of certain crimes.

This bill was passed in response to concerns were raised in Eden Valley over the gentlemen's club that was operating there.

*Government liability: Governmental units working on a joint venture are limited to the liability of one governmental unit: not more than $300,000 for an individual claim and not more than $1,000,000 for multiple claims from one occurrence.

*Parenting time: Where no other considerations must be made, each parent is entitled to at least 25 percent of parenting time for a child.

*Relocation of children to another state: When a child resides with only one parent and that parent wishes to relocate to another state with the child, the court will consider opposition from the other parent, taking into account the reasons for the move and the effect on the child's relationship with the nonrelocating parent while choosing in the child's best interests.

*Organ donation: Public employers must grant employees a paid leave of absence of up to 40 work hours to donate an organ to another person.

*State fruit: Honeycrisp apples are designated as the state fruit.

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