Among the new Minnesota laws that will take effect Jan. 1 is a measure the prevents private employers from asking job applicants about their criminal record until they've been selected for an interview or offered employment.
Under the so-called 'ban the box' law, application forms can no longer include a check-the-box question about whether the job seeker has been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor.
The ban has applied to public employers since 2009. Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL, St. Paul, the chief House author of the measure, said people with a record deserve a chance to talk to employers.
"Whatever the reason that has turned your life around, you should have the opportunity -- or I'm hoping that people will give people the opportunity -- to explain what has turned their life around and why they would be a good employee."
The state Department of Human Rights will investigate alleged violations. During the first year, businesses will receive written warnings for a first offense. After that, they would could face fines.
Other notable laws that will go into effect:
• Minnesota took advantage of a provision in the federal health care law to expand medical assistance coverage to an estimated 40,000 low- income families.
• Efforts to stop the theft of automobiles and scrap metal get a boost with a new requirement for salvage yards to install video surveillance cameras. They must also photograph the face of every seller and make the images available to police.
Other new laws will further restrict juvenile court records and require home sellers to disclose radon testing information.