Get to know your new Minnesota laws [LIST]

Categories: Law, Legislature
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Look, we did something!
Miraculously, the Minnesota Legislature found time in its busy schedule of not making a budget to pass a few bills.

Not only that, but Mark Dayton actually signed these pieces of legislation, promptly, and they're about to debut as new laws.

Starting August 1, there'll be new rules on the books about restaurant servers pooling their tips, drug testing for pro athletes and running away from the cops. Plus, an important  new law open a "church lady" loophole for food inspections.

Times like this give Minnesotans a chance to realize the things that weren't laws, but seemed like they should've been. For example, any caretaker who has sex with a vulnerable adult -- that is, a person with a physical, mental or emotional disability -- will have to register as a sex offender... which means that they didn't have to do that before now.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't you dare hurt a police horse or K-9. 

Here are a handful of the new laws that go into effect on Monday, via the House of Representatives Public Information Service:

Employers can organize tip sharing
A new law makes it easier for restaurant workers to pool their tips or for a restaurant owner to safeguard them for employees. The law allows employers, at their employees' request, to safeguard and disburse tips according to a sharing agreement; and to report the amounts received for tax purposes. Employees may not coerce employees to share gratuities.

Pawn shop regulations eased
A new law will make it easier for pawn shops to manage their inventory. The law standardizes a 60-day maximum redemption period for a pawn transaction. It allows pawnbrokers to return, sell or remove inventory from display after the redemption period is reached, or after 31 days for inventory purchased other than through a pawn transaction. It also repeals a state requirement that pawn shops be located at least 10 driving miles from any casino. Except for the standardized redemption period, municipalities may regulate pawn businesses or transactions more restrictively.

Home repair contractors
Minnesota home repair contractors have been busy during the past few years as homes have taken a beating from hail storms, twisters and other natural disasters. A new law modifies a 2010 law relating to contracts for residential home repair, and it offers more consumer protection from "fly-by-night" contractors, including those from out of state, who compete for Minnesota contracts after storms or natural disasters. The law will add siding contractors as well as roofing contractors to those prohibited from offering to pay for an insured's deductible or to compensate an insured as an incentive to gain a contract. It also broadens the current law's language regarding the types of inducements that contractors are forbidden from offering to property owners. It also gives the labor and industry commissioner authority to enforce the law.

Alternative pathways to teacher licensure
Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, alternative licensure programs may be created by a school district or charter school in partnership with a college or university with a Board of Teaching-approved alternative teacher preparation program. A new law directs the board to approve qualified programs offering alternative pathways to teacher licensure in order to improve academic excellence, improve ethnic and cultural diversity in the classroom, and close the academic achievement gap.  Candidates must have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average or a waiver from the board; pass basic reading, writing and math skills exams; and obtain qualifying scores on board-approved content and pedagogy exams. The board is directed to streamline the path for teachers holding out-of-state licensure from accredited programs to Minnesota licensure. Candidates who have completed another state's alternative teacher preparation program may apply for a standard Minnesota license.

Food inspection exceptions
The efforts of a couple of self-professed "church ladies" from Goodhue County saved their church dinners thanks to a new law that exempts meals served by faith-based organizations from certain Health Department food inspection regulations, including inspections. The legislation grants certain organizations with tax-exempt status exemption from food regulation statutes. It would also affect organizations that are affiliated with or related to a sportsman organization. It also adds a limitation that events must be held in the organization's building or on the grounds. Pat Irrthum and Kathy Theel began their efforts to reform the law that jeopardized their church dinners at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Zumbrota after Goodhue County relinquished its food inspection service for nonprofits last year as a cost saving measure. The Department of Health took over the duties for the county and last spring informed parishioners at the church and other area churches that they were in violation of a state law that requires permits for nonprofit events where homemade food is served.

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