More than a dozen new laws took effect in Minnesota Aug. 1. The laws range from changes to make it easier for police to fight designer drug sales, stronger vulnerable adult penalties, to adding options for legally abandoning a newborn baby.
One law is aimed at keeping synthetic drugs, also known as designer drugs, out of storefronts and off the streets. Synthetic drugs mimicking marijuana include “K2” and “Spice,” and “Bath Salts” contain man-made chemicals related to amphetamines.
The law increases the penalty to a felony for selling the substances, widens the list of illicit synthetic substances and grants the pharmacy board the ability to speed through new rules to keep up with quickly changing formulas that drug dealers often use to get around existing laws.
In an effort to save lives and prevent unwanted newborns from being discarded, a new state law says parents can call 911 for an ambulance or take an unwanted newborn to an urgent care clinic or hospital within seven days. The old law, enacted in 2000, required parents turn over an unwanted newborn to a hospital within three days.
Another new law will allow small businesses that sell gas to be able to recoup money owed from vehicle drive-offs in a more timely manner. It also creates a permissive inference of theft if a person drives off without paying.
Minnesota’s plumbing code will expand to allow licensed waterproofing contractors to install a sump pump in an existing single-family dwelling.
Treatment options have been expanded for parents of children who are deaf, blind or hard-of-hearing and who need mental health treatment. The old law limited reimbursement from public health care programs for specialized mental health service facilities within Minnesota or in bordering states. The new law will allow residential treatment in any state that meets a set of criteria that includes being in a state that is a member of the Interstate Compact on Mental Health and accepting clients who use American Sign Language.
Honor guard stipends are increased with a new law. Charitable gaming organizations will be authorized to pay a per diem stipend of up to $50 per person for military honor guard, color guard or “marching unit” performances. The previous cap on stipends was $35 per person.
Several new laws relating to public safety have also gone into effect. One law permits law enforcement agencies to sell forfeited firearms to federally licensed firearms dealers. The statute states 70 percent of the sale proceeds will go to the law enforcement agency, 20 percent to the prosecuting agency and 10 percent to the state’s general fund. Previously, the law stated all contraband weapons subject to summary forfeiture had to be destroyed unless they were used by law enforcement agencies for training purposes.
Another public safety law increases penalties for those convicted of intentionally neglecting a vulnerable adult or mistreating a child. The law creates a felony crime for intentional deprivation of a vulnerable adult, such as with food, clothing, shelter or heath care, when the caregiver “is reasonably able to make the necessary provisions.” The law also creates a new two-year offense for child mistreatment that results in “demonstrable bodily harm.”