Jasinski: New laws effective August 1

New laws effective August 1

By: Sen. John Jasinski

By now you have probably heard that my slowpoke bill, which requires slow drivers to move out of the left lane if they are holding up traffic, officially became effective on August 1. Or perhaps you been reading up on changes to Minnesota’s distracted driving laws, which prohibit drivers from using their cellphones unless in hands-free mode, which also became effective on August 1.

It’s not a coincidence. When the legislature approves new laws or changes to existing laws, many times those changes do not take effect immediately. The two most common dates for new laws to become official are July 1 and August 1.

Here are some August 1 new laws you should be aware of, courtesy of the House’s Public Information Office:

  • Slowpoke’ bill: This is my bill to help traffic move more efficiently. If the roadway has more than one lane in each direction, a person must move out of the leftmost lane to allow another vehicle to pass. The law makes exceptions when road conditions, weather, and other circumstances dictate.
  • ‘Hands-free’ expands distracted driving enforcement: The new law broadens the state’s existing ban on texting while driving, prohibiting drivers from holding a cell phone or other handheld device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers will be required to use hands-free technology when making calls, sending messages, or accessing content, including audio and navigation behind the wheel. Calls and messages may still be placed using hands-free technology, such as via Bluetooth, or to obtain emergency assistance.
  • Preventing retaliation at nursing homes: The Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019 prohibits retaliation against residents or employees of nursing homes. The protections apply if the individual does any of the following in good faith: files a complaint, makes an inquiry, asserts a right, files a maltreatment report, seeks help from law enforcement, files a civil action, participates in an investigation, among other provisions. Illegal retaliation could include any form of discrimination, prohibition of visitors, withholding of food and/or care, discharge or transfer, or the unauthorized removal, or tampering with, of technology and communication devices.
  • Improving safety in road construction zones: To cut down on dangerous drivers in road work areas, qualified work zone flaggers will be legally able to report violations of flagger directions, speeding, or various other traffic control laws in construction work zones along Minnesota highways. To establish probable cause, the flaggers report must include a description of the vehicle and time of the incident and the flagger must have completed training related to traffic laws.
  • Allowing good Samaritans to use their epi pens to save lives: More people will be allowed to administer epinephrine auto-injectors, or Epi-Pens, to help someone having an allergic reaction. Individuals can qualify to administer Epi-Pens by successfully completing a training program.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. You can reach me at 651-296-0284 or Sen.John.Jasinski@senate.mn. I hope to see you around the district soon!