Run down on how new laws of 2014 affect you
Several new laws went into effect on the first of this year, courtesy of the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton.
Here’s how the new laws affect you.
If you are a juvenile felon age 16 or 17:
Your electronic court records will no longer be open to the public. That’s the good news.
The bad news is the new law only limits access to electronic records. It will not affect public access to your court hearings or paper records.
The law also keeps electronic access open in certain cases involving serious offenses, unless the prosecutor agrees otherwise.
If you’re an estate sale operator:
You will now be required to guarantee your clients at least $20,000 before holding an estate sale.
The new law is the first to regulate estate sales by requiring operators to offer a surety bond.
Certified public accountants and attorneys, however, are exempt.
If you are selling your home:
You must now disclose radon testing results if you have any.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and a third of Minnesota homes pose a risk from the odorless, tasteless gas, which seeps in naturally from the ground surrounding basements.
The law does not require testing or fixing the problem. But a Health Department radon awareness brochure will be given to the 40,000-or-so annual homebuyers across the state at the time of the sale.
If you know there is radon in your home, you must disclose that to the buyer, and records on radon testing and mitigation must be turned over.
If there’s a chemical spill in your area:
Your local emergency 911 dispatch center must now be notified within 24 hours, sooner if an immediate response is needed.
Under the old law, the state emergency response center or a firefighting or law enforcement unit had to be notified when hazardous or extremely hazardous substances were spilled or released. There was no requirement to notify local jurisdictions.
If you’re an ex-convict:
You’ll get a chance to explain yourself during a job interview.
The so-called Ban the Box law removes the question on job application forms that asks applicants to check a box about whether they have ever been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor. Many such applicants have been rejected out of hand.
Now employers have to wait until the interview process to ask about criminal convictions. If there is no interview, employers must wait until they offer you a job before asking about your criminal history.
If you’re a low-wage earner:
Now you and your family may qualify for Medical Assistance coverage, thanks to a new law that extends coverage to those making up to 138 percent of poverty level, or about $15,000 a year. About 40,000 Minnesotans are expected to qualify.
The expansion is an option allowed under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost through 2016. Starting in 2017, the feds will start reducing that support to 90 percent of the cost for 2020 and subsequent years.
If you’re planning to scrap your car:
Get ready to smile and say cheese. Scrap vehicle operators must now install and maintain surveillance cameras, and a digital still photo must be taken of everyone who enters the business, along with their vehicle and license plate. Any video must be shown to law enforcement upon request.
It’s part of a much larger law that went into effect Aug. 1 to prevent stolen cars from quickly being turned into scrap metal.
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