New laws cover credit watches, exotic pets and feted fruit

The Quadriga
The Minnesota State Capitol Building.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs

(AP) - The list of new laws taking effect imposes new penalties on everything from counterfeiting to street racing and recognize the hardships faced by the families of mobilized soldiers.

Here's a snapshot of some new laws:

-IDENTITY THEFT: Consumers can limit access to their credit information by paying a small fee to have it frozen. If they want to make a purchase that requires a new line of credit they can pay to lift the freeze. Victims of identity theft can have the fee waived. The law also requires credit card companies to take more verification steps when an address on an application is different from one where a solicitation was sent.

-PHONE RECORDS: It'll be a crime to knowingly sell or attempt to sell a telephone record of state residents without their consent. The law covers records of calls dialed or received.

-EXOTIC PETS: Owners of exotic animals - lions, bears, leopards and gorillas, for instance - can face stiffer criminal penalties if those animals get loose and harm someone. They must also post signs noting a "dangerous" animal is on the premises.

-STREET RACING: Traffic laws specifically ban street racing. It falls under the state's careless and reckless driving statute making it a misdemeanor to drive with a wanton disregard for the safety of people or property.

-MAKING MONEY: Counterfeiting currency or possessing devices for that purpose will carry hefty state fines and prison time. The crimes will carry up to $100,000 in fines and 20 years in prison.

-ELECTION PROTECTION: Supplying deceptive information about the time, place or details of an election could bring gross misdemeanor charges. The law also makes it a crime to knowingly give false information about voter eligibility.

-SOLDIER HELP: Employers will be required to grant leave time for families of deployed soldiers in a few instances. Family members will be eligible for up to 10 days of unpaid leave when a relative on active duty is injured or killed. Family members are also entitled to time off to attend send-off or homecoming ceremonies. Upon returning from service, military veterans will qualify for resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities.

-STATE FRUIT: Minnesota's symbolic hall of fame gets a new entrant. The Honeycrisp apple, a variation developed at the University of Minnesota, becomes the official state fruit. It joins other icons as the loon (the state bird), the walleye (the state fish) and milk (the state drink).

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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