Greetings from the District,
The following select laws were passed during the 2019 legislative session and took effect on July 1, 2019. You can find a comprehensive list of all new laws here.
Courtesy of Minnesota House Public Information Services
Wage theft made a crime
A new law will give Minnesota some of the toughest wage theft rules in the country and will provide a range of other finance and policy provisions in the areas of employment, commerce, and energy. The law will prevent employers from denying employees fair pay, which currently impacts tens of thousands of Minnesotans each year. With the new protections, wage theft will become a felony with penalties that could include up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. To enforce the law, the legislation includes funding for the Department of Labor and Industry to implement a Wage Theft Prevention Initiative and includes protections for employees who become whistleblowers.
For those unfamiliar, wage theft is defined as, among other things, when an employer “fails to pay an employee all wages, salary, gratuities, earnings, or commissions at the employee’s rate or rates of pay or at the rate or rates required by law.”
While the law went into effect July 1, the criminal provisions are delayed by a month and will go into effect August 1.
A new law will contribute to the ongoing effort to combat Minnesota opioid crisis. The sweeping reform creates a new opioid advisory council to establish goals and make funding recommendations; provides funding for county social service and tribal social service agencies to provide child protection services to families affected by addiction; and increases funding for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for additional drug scientists, lab supplies and special agents focused on drug interdiction and trafficking.
To fund these efforts, a yearly registration fee will be assessed on all opiate manufacturer that annually sells, delivers, or distributes two million or more units in Minnesota. The law also sets application and renewal fees for drug manufacturers of opiate-containing controlled substances and increases the fees for drug wholesalers, drug manufacturers, and medical gas distributors. Additionally, any revenue from settlements will be explicitly earmarked for opioid response efforts.
This session the legislature unanimously passed a law that would eliminate what has commonly been referred to as the “marital rape exception” which shields participants in voluntary relationships from prosecution for certain criminal sexual conduct. The new law repeals statutory language known as the “voluntary relationship defense” and allow for prosecution of individuals accused of committing sexual crimes against a spouse or a long-standing sexual partner.
Minnesota schools will see an increase in funding available for E-12 education that will be the largest investment in general education funding, special education aid, and voluntary prekindergarten in the state’s history. The law will increase the basic funding formula by 2 percent each year, supports the state’s earliest learners by maintaining 4,000 voluntary prekindergarten seats that were set to expire, and provides vital special education aid funding to tackle the growing gap between school districts’ special education costs and the state and federal funding they receive.
The new law also secures critical resources for flexible safe schools revenue that local school districts can use for “hard security” upgrades to schools, and for professionals that help keep students safe – like school counselors, psychologists, nurses, and school resource officers.
Agriculture and rural development
The omnibus agricultural and rural development finance law will increase investment in the industry and throughout Greater Minnesota communities. In particular, the law will put $40 million towards vital broadband infrastructure development in underserved parts of the state.
Amongst other appropriations for the Department of Agriculture, the law includes funds that will increase farmer mental health outreach and expand agency marketing efforts for agricultural products. Additional resources will bolster programs for meat inspection, disaster preparedness and response, noxious weed control, prevention and mitigation of plant pathogens and pests, and agricultural research through the Agricultural Research Education Extension and Technology Transfer program.
Stay tuned for more information, and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me any time. Your feedback is extremely important to me and I encourage you to share your input. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my Capitol office at 651-296-5649. It’s a great honor to serve as your State Senator.
Finally, if you don’t already follow me on Facebook, please give my page a ‘Like’. This is a great way to stay on top of the latest news from the Capitol! Visit my page here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorJeremyMiller/.