A whole flock of new laws that passed in Minnesota's 2015 legislative session are set to go into effect on July 1. Here's a look at some of the more interesting changes.
1) More bingo allowed for seniors
The new law simplifies gambling statutes in the state, in part, by updating the definition of gambling to include software used by electronic bar bingo and electronic pull tabs. It also includes a provision allowing nursing homes, senior homes and senior organizations to hold bingo tournaments more than twice a week.
2) Read all about foreclosures in your local newspaper
A law requiring notice of a foreclosure to be published in a newspaper of record was ambiguous about where the newspaper needed to be located. The newly revised law would require that notice be published in the county where the foreclosure sale will be held. If that county doesn't have a newspaper of record, the notice can be posted in an adjacent county.
3) Rideshare drivers will need more insurance
A new law requires more liability insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers when they're logged into the applications or transporting a passenger. It includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
4) Public defenders bulked up
The new law includes additional $6.48 million for the State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense due to concerns that public defenders have been hamstrung by high caseloads and increasingly complex court cases. The funds could cover the hiring of about 36 new public defenders. Civil legal services, which represent low-income clients in civil matters like eviction or consumer debt, will also see an additional $879,000 to help victims of domestic violence and prevent improper evictions and foreclosures.
5) More forensic scientists and fingerprint examiners
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is receiving an additional $11.4 million to cover the hiring of six computer forensic examiners, a forensic scientist, five fingerprint examiners and more special agents to investigate child pornography and human trafficking.
6) Boosting services for crime victims
The addition of $1.35 million for crime victims services includes $300,000 to provide "culturally specific" emergency shelter programs in St. Paul for domestic abuse victims.
7) Countering terrorist recruitment in the state
The new law includes a $250,000 allocation to come up with a strategy to combat terrorist recruitment in Minnesota by groups like ISIS and al-Shabab.
8) Tuition relief at public colleges and universities
A $101 million increase in funding to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will help freeze tuition at the two-year colleges. The University of Minnesota received $22 million in tuition assistance, but will still raise tuition next year by 1.5 percent for resident undergraduates and 7 percent for students from outside the state.
9) Ending the state's political contribution refund program
The program that refunds donations to political candidates of up to $50 is set to expire for two years on July 1. Applications for refunds before the deadline are due by April 18, 2016.
10) Easing child care licensing for some nonprofits
Some nonprofit organizations that serve school-age children will be exempt from licensing as long as their programs include structured activities and operate before and after school or during seasonal breaks. The nonprofits must also inform parents and guardians that the programs are not licensed.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.