Several new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2012

The start of the New Year renews my hope that legislators in Minnesota and across the nation will bridge their differences and work together for the good of the state and country. In Minnesota, a number of laws passed during the 2011 Legislative Session will go into effect on January 1, 2012. Although it would take several pages to cover all of the new laws, I have included a few that might be of interest to families and businesses in southern Minnesota.
As a member of the Commerce Committee, I co-authored legislation to modernize insurance claims for cell phones, smart phones, laptops and GPS devices. As most of us know, these devices are expensive to replace when lost, stolen or damaged. With the growing demand from consumers for insurance policies to help cover the repairs or replacement of these devices, we needed to change current law. The new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 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.
Tyler’s Law also goes into effect on Jan. 1. The bill requires that information about carbon monoxide poisoning be included as part of the driver’s education training manual and on the written test. The bill is the result of the death of college student Tyler Lavers who was overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning when installing stereo speakers in his car – with the garage door open, in a ventilated area. Hopefully, keeping our young people informed will help prevent these accidents from happening in the future.
When applying for a drivers’ license or state identification card after Jan 1, in addition to being asked if you want to be an organ donor, Minnesotans will be asked to contribute $2 to an organ donor awareness campaign. The money will be used to increase awareness and advocacy for organ donations.
Minnesota has been working with the federal human services department to adapt reimbursement formulas for nursing homes as the population and needs of nursing home residents continue to change. Recently, the federal government updated its requirements for resident reimbursement classification formulas at nursing homes. Minnesota’s new law conforms our statutes to federal requirements. After Jan. 1, the new rates will be based on an updated minimum dataset or any new version mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that nursing facilities are required to complete for all residents.
As we move into the 2012 legislative session, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at Room 19 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155, or call or email me at (651) 296-9248, with your concerns.

Senator Dan Sparks
Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.

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