New Laws in Effect

January first marks the effective date of several new laws passed during the 2011 Legislative Session. From improving carbon monoxide awareness to modernizing outdated insurance claim laws, the new laws will have a positive impact on our local communities and state. As usual, many of the bills are examples of proposals often generated from ideas shared by constituents.
As the author of the bill, I am very pleased to see Tyler’s Law go into effect. The legislation, brought forward by the family of Tyler Lavers after they lost Tyler to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, is designed to increase awareness about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The new law requires driver education programs to include a section on carbon monoxide poisoning. The instruction will include (but is not limited to) a description of the characteristics of carbon monoxide, a review of the risks and potential speed of death from carbon monoxide poisoning, and specific suggestions regarding vehicle idling practices.
The law also calls for driver’s license exams to include a test on the knowledge of the dangers of carbon monoxide and requires additional information on risks to be included in the Department of Public Safety’s driver’s manuals. I am grateful for the effort the Lavers family put into passing this legislation and hope the law they passed in their son’s name will help prevent other families from going through the same tragedy.
A second law now in place will help fund organ donor awareness programs. With this new law, people applying for a driver’s license will be asked if they would like to contribute $2 to a donor awareness campaign. The money will be used as grants to federally certified organ procurement organizations and nonprofit organizations that advocate for organ and tissue donation. Funds will also cover all Department of Public Safety expenses to implement the program.
As technology continues to change, we are constantly challenged with the task of modernizing law to fit the demands of the new technology. Last session, we passed legislation to modernize insurance claims for cell phones, smart phones, laptops and GPS devices. These devices are becoming increasingly expensive and important to our everyday lives.
With the growing demand from consumers for insurance policies to help cover the repairs or replacement of these devices, we needed to update current law. The law that is now in effect allows for a limited lines license to permit the point of sales person to sell insurance covering portable electronic devices–making it easier for consumers to insure these devices.
These bills are three examples of the work that can be done if the Legislature collaborates for the good of our state. I am hopeful that we will see increased bipartisanship within the Legislature this session as we work to create, improve and modernize Minnesota law. I will be working on several more initiatives in 2012. I encourage you to visit my page on the Senate’s website (http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/) to stay up to date on legislative concerns.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.
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Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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