ST. PAUL, Minn. – Starting Wednesday, dozens of laws passed during the 2015 Legislative Session will go into effect. Here is a brief rundown of some of the more high profile laws taking effect this week.
July 1 marks the beginning of the state’s grant program dedicated to funding agricultural research, education, rapid response, and technology. The Omnibus Agriculture and Environment bill appropriated $4.483 million for FY2016 and $8.5 million for FY2017 for this program. This money will help ramp up important agriculture research and help farmers across the state.
The legislature’s $525 million E-12 bill also goes into effect on July 1, meaning 2 percent increases for this coming school year and the 2016-17 school year, which means much less, if any need for cuts. The additional funding is also good news for families with young children, the E-12 budget includes $89 million in new funding for early childhood education. When children attend pre-k programming, studies show they are more prepared for kindergarten, and that preparedness extends throughout their academic careers.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Several new laws and reforms relating to health and human services also begin tomorrow including child protection provisions and a funding increase. All Minnesota counties will now be required to conduct background checks on all child protection workers either hired or given new duties after July 1. Counties will also start receiving additional funds form the state to increase staffing for child protection units. Rural dental providers practicing outside the seven-county metropolitan area will start receiving an increase if they serve Medical Assistance patients.
HUNTING AND FISHING
Several laws relaxing hunting restrictions for seniors were implemented this year including allowing the use of scopes on muzzleloaders for hunters over the age of 60 and Minnesota residents aged 84 or older are now allowed to take a deer of either sex. Minnesota veteran’s home residents can now get a firearm or muzzleloader deer license during the deer hunting season and take antlerless deer without a permit.
Several rail safety provisions passed in 2014 are going into effect this July including requiring railroads to deploy enough equipment and trained personnel to clean up an emergency within a specified time period of a confirmed spill or leak. Railroads are also required to conduct at least one oil emergency response drill every three years.
Beginning July 1, all businesses will be able to receive an upfront sales tax exemption on capital equipment purchases. Under current law, businesses can apply for a refund for sales tax already paid on qualifying capital equipment, but this is a cumbersome process that many small businesses do not have enough time for or employee support. The upfront exemption has been a top priority of the business community for years. It helps businesses with their cash-flow and eliminates time-consuming red tape that prevents many smaller businesses from being able to claim the refund.
“This session the legislature passed the third largest investment in schools in state history, we made important investments in agriculture research and education, we addressed long-standing concerns in the business community and we also made important steps forward to ensure the protection of Minnesota children. While this session certainly had its challenges, I’m proud of the work we did to make life better for all Minnesotans,” said Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin).