New laws now on the books in Minnesota

By S.M. Chavey

As of Aug. 1, many Minnesotans have gained more access to good dental care, awareness of children’s rights to lawyers, a telemedicine definition, and more.
Aug. 1 brings a whole bevy of new laws into effect. Bills passed by the Minnesota Legislature this past session without appropriations that don’t note an effective date in the text automatically become effective the first day of August of the year the bill passed.

Read on to find out if your life will change this month.

Limited life insurance payouts for beneficiaries of suspected terrorists

If a person dies in what’s suspected to be a terrorist-related act, insurance providers are only required to pay out the premiums paid into his or her life insurance policy.

The person doesn’t even need to be convicted as long as the court has a preponderance of evidence. If the insured was “directly or indirectly” furthering terrorism in death, insurance companies are off the hook.

“If people are using nefarious purposes to take out life in policies and unjustly enrich their beneficiaries … that’s going to have a very big impact on ratepayers,” Rep. Laurie Halverson said during the House discussion.

Children are made aware of their right to a lawyer

Children 10 years and older were already entitled to a lawyer in child protection cases. Now, they’re going to be told about their right.

Previously, even if children somehow discovered their rights to a lawyer, they had no way of contacting one. Now, social workers are required to notify children of their right. A child can only waive the right after speaking with an attorney.

Titled “McKenna’s Law,” the legislation honors 13-year-old McKenna Ahrenholz, who testified about her experiences in the foster system without a lawyer.

Expanded access to good dental care

Minnesota ranked dead last in Medicaid funding rates for pediatric dental services, according to a 2015 Minnesota Dental Association article. And only 23.5 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 20 who are enrolled in Medicaid received at least one preventive dental service in the past year, a 2015 Minnesota Department of Health survey said.

This law counters some of those issues.

Dental hygienists and assistants previously had to wait for patients to be examined by a dentist before serving them. Now, hygienists will be able to reach underserved communities better by performing procedures outside the clinic.

Hygienists and assistants are still limited to the same procedures; this simply expands access to those.

Telemedicine: Standards defined

Though technology has largely simplified processes, it’s caused a few complications. This new law defines telemedical standards.

Health care providers working with patients remotely — via “real-time two-way interactive audio, and visual communications, including the application of secure video conferencing or store-and-forward technology — are held to the same standards as they are in person when assessing, diagnosing, consulting, treating, educating, or care managing the patient’s health.

Phone calls, emails, and faxes don’t count as telemedicine services.

Three road segments renamed

Ever wonder how a road is named after somebody? Here’s how three Minnesotans did it:

Medal of Honor Recipient Kenneth L. Olson was killed in action in 1968 during the Vietnam War. After he was injured, he threw himself on a hand grenade to prevent his fellow soldiers from being hit. A segment of Trunk Highway 23 in west-central Minnesota will honor the Army specialist.

Chip A. Imker, a 35-year-old volunteer firefighter in Cambridge, was killed in a 2011 training accident in rope rescue. He previously served in the Army National Guard and Reserves and was a certified firefighter as well as a trained first responder with Cambridge Fire Department. He’ll have a stretch of highway in Isanti County named for him.

Cpl. Benjamin S. Kopp was a 21-year-old Army Ranger who died from wounds acquired in action while serving in Afghanistan in July 2009. Insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire; life-saving efforts in Afghanistan, Germany and Washington, D.C. were unsuccessful. A bridge over U.S. 52 in Coates will be renamed for him.

More changes coming:

– Ramsey County can create up to five jobs to be filled by people with disabilities.

– Individual items in grocery stores don’t need to be labeled with the price anymore, as long as the prices are displayed conspicuously.

– Co-owners of cars that are seized in DWIs are now allowed to petition to get that car back.

– Farmers don’t have to file annual reports regarding potential land contamination — which most already didn’t know they had to file and weren’t getting penalized for not filing anyway.

– High school students — whether above age 18 or not — cannot work past 11 p.m. on a school night without a written request to the employer.

– Pharmacists are required to substitute less expensive biological products when safely interchangeable, unless the customer specifies otherwise.

– Firefighters’ civil service commission members can now donate and receive political contributions.

– Veterans memorials were previously restricted to certain areas; now they can be anywhere.

– Nine synthetic drugs will be added to Schedule I.

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