New Laws effective Friday, August 1, 2008

Smoking in hotel/motel rooms:  It’s already against the law to smoke in a nonsmoking hotel/motel room. Now though if you’re caught, you might also have to pick up the tab to get the room back to its smoke-free condition. The new law removes the previous $100 cap. It states that if an offender does not reimburse the innkeeper in 30 days, a $100 civil penalty can be added, as well as attorney fees up to $500.

The “Hannah Montana” law:  When tickets for the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana “Best of Both Worlds” tour went on sale last year, huge blocs of tickets were swept up within seconds by people using ticket-buying software, leaving everyone else to buy tickets for as much as 10 times the original price. The new law makes it a gross misdemeanor to sell, distribute or use software to get around security and move to the front of an Internet ticket-buying line.

Don’t try to disarm a peace officer:  You could face a felony charge if you attempt to disarm a peace officer. Under this new law about which you can find more information here, it is illegal to take from a peace officer any defensive device issued for their protection, including a firearm, tear gas, taser or baton. If convicted, you could face a five-year prison term and $10,000 fine.

New dangerous dog regulations:  Owners of dangerous dogs will now have to pay a steeper surety bond. The bond was raised from $50,000 to $300,000. A new law also prohibits dog ownership for anyone who has repeatedly been convicted of crimes involving dangerous dogs.

Tougher public nuisance law:  Under current statute, a public nuisance exists if there are two or more separate instances of various incidents, such as gambling and the unlawful sale of alcohol. The new law treats some activities more harshly. Under it, prostitution, unlawful drug sales or possession or illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon are all considered a public nuisance after only one incident.

Advocates not compelled to talk:  The list of professionals that are not compelled to disclose information about their clients or members without their consent now includes “Domestic Abuse Advocates.”

Foreclosure notice:  A new law requires that notice of mortgage foreclosure be given to tenants. If the property is transferred to a new owner following foreclosure, and the new owner seeks to evict an existing tenant, they must be given at least two month’s written notice to vacate.

No Ambulance-Chasing:  Health care professionals will be prohibited from contacting a recent auto incident victim. Specifically, they cannot contact a victim with the “purpose of influencing that person to receive treatment or to purchase any good or item.” The law does allow for contact from a doctor if there was a prior relationship.

Notification of flood insurance status:  When southeastern Minnesota was flooded last August, scores of homeowners discovered that they did not have flood coverage, even though they were eligible for it. The law requires insurers to inform policyholders that they might be eligible for flood insurance if they live in an area covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Auto body shop protection:  A new law is designed to prevent insurance companies from denying payment to auto body shops for repairs made under an insurance claim. The law specifies that insurers cannot “unilaterally and arbitrarily disregard” the cost of auto repairs made under an insurance claim if the auto service used an estimating system recognized by the insurance industry.

Closed meetings will be taped:   All closed meetings held by public bodies must be electronically recorded, unless otherwise prohibited by attorney-client privilege. The law mandates these recordings be preserved for at least three years.

Help for veterans convicted of crimes:  When the defendant is convicted of a crime, the court will be required to ask whether the defendant is currently serving in or is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. If the defendant answers yes and has been diagnosed as having a mental illness by a qualified psychiatrist or clinical psychologist or physician, the court may ask the military to intervene with information regarding treatment options.

Construction awareness for businesses:  Small businesses impacted by transportation construction projects should more easily get information about what is happening outside their front door. A new law requires the Minnesota Department of Transportation to develop a standard operating plan for getting out such information, with a report due to the Legislature by Feb. 15, 2009.

One thought on “New Laws effective Friday, August 1, 2008

  1. Nicely done and deeply appreciated!