SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Though passed during the legislative session, many bills don’t go into effect until a few months later. Senator Dahle recently reviewed the bills from the past legislative sessions, and pointed out several that may not have made headlines, but will affect his constituents.
- Increased fine for secondary violations of texting while driving (SF 1647–passed 2015 Session): As part of the Omnibus Transportation and Public Safety bill, the Legislature increased the fine for secondary offenses of texting while driving to $225 plus the standard $75 state surcharge, or $300 for getting caught texting while driving the second time.
- Child Care Grant eligibility modifications (S.F. 5–passed 2015 Session): The Child Care Grant program offers students financial assistance to lower income students for child care expenses. This change would allow a student to qualify for the grant program if their spouse is a Minnesota resident, no matter the student’s residency.
- Blue Alert (H.F. 12–passed 2015 Session): The Blue Alert system, modeled off the successful AMBER Alert system, will be created. The Blue Alert system will be a method of notifying the public in the event that a peace officer has been seriously injured or killed and the suspect is at-large. An electronic notification will go out using the current AMBER Alert infrastructure.
- Hire A Veteran Month changed (S.F. 888–passed 2015 Session): ‘Hire A Veteran’ Month is changed from May to July, which will coincide with a major veterans job fair coordinated between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
- Minimum wage increase (H.F. 2091–passed 2014 Session): The minimum wage will be increased as follows:
- Large employers must pay a minimum wage of $9.00 ($8.00 previously).
- Small employers must pay a minimum wage of $7.25 ($6.50 previously).
- Sex trafficking (S.F. 878–passed 2015 Session): Money is appropriated to local law enforcement agencies to support and train law enforcement investigations in sex trafficking. The bill also provides important legal protections for victims of sex trafficking go into effect.
- Agritourism (H.F. 1554–passed 2015 Session): With the growth of agritourism, many farmers face higher insurance costs to protect against lawsuits. Farmers will not be liable for incidents resulting from the inherent risks of farming, ranching, winemaking, or other agritourism activities.
“Despite the partisanship of a few hotly-debated bills, most of the work of the Minnesota Legislature is collaborative, and it results in laws like these,” commented Dahle. “I value the work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but I value the constituents who have contacted me even more. Throughout the year, residents have called and emailed and stopped me in the grocery store to let me know their feelings on bills from safe driving incentives to affordable child care to combatting human trafficking. The laws going into effect on Aug. 1 are just as much a result of those conversations as they are the votes taken in St. Paul.”For more information, contact Bryan Wells at 651-296-5561.