Sen. Kiffmeyer's Column

Mary Kiffmeyer
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends.
With the beginning of a new year, many laws that were passed during the 2013 legislative session came into effect.  The following is a list of laws that I would like to bring to your attention. This information was prepared by the Minnesota House of Representatives. 
New Laws Effective Jan. 1, 2014: 
Access to some juvenile court records will be restricted:
Many juvenile court records and proceedings are already closed to the public. A new law affects records stemming from hearings in which a 16- or 17-year-old has been charged with a felony. Those records are currently public even if an initial felony charge is later reduced or dismissed.
The new law limits access only to electronic court records. It will not affect public access to hearings or paper records. The law also makes exceptions that maintain public access to electronic records in certain cases involving serious offenses, unless the prosecutor agrees otherwise.
Home sellers must disclose radon gas testing:
A requirement for home sellers to disclose radon testing is one of the major provisions contained in the omnibus health policy law.  Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and one in three Minnesota homes pose a risk from the odorless, tasteless gas. The law will not mandate testing or mitigation, rather, a Department of Health radon awareness brochure will be given to the 40,000 annual homebuyers across the state at the point of sale. If the seller has knowledge of radon in the home, that information must be disclosed to the buyer. The so-called Radon Awareness Act also requires the seller to hand over records pertaining to radon testing or mitigation of the residence, if available.
There are some exclusions to the disclosure requirement, such as property transferred due to divorce, foreclosure, death of a family member or when no money is transferred.
Kiffmeyer Cont. On Page 9
New law will increase local community awareness about chemical spills
Under current law, the state emergency response center or a firefighting or law enforcement organization must be notified when a reportable quantity of a hazardous or extremely hazardous substance is released or spilled. There is no requirement to notify local jurisdictions.
A new law requires the state emergency response center to notify a local 911 emergency dispatch center within 24 hours of the notification, unless “the situation requires an immediate response or the area is unknown to the center.” Then, the state emergency response center shall direct the caller to contact local authorities.
Ban the Box law expanded to private employers:
Since 2009, state law has banned a public employer from inquiring whether a job applicant has a criminal record or criminal history at the time a person applies for a job.
The so-called Ban the Box law, which will add private employers to those who must wait until an applicant is selected for an interview to ask the question.
The law will remove the question that asks job applicants to check a box about whether they have ever been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor. For jobs that don’t include an interview, employers cannot ask about criminal issues until there is a conditional offer of employment.
Employers who violate the new law within the first year will be subject to a written warning after their first offense, followed by cash penalties for any subsequent violations.
Medical Assistance expands to cover more Minnesotans:
An estimated 40,000 additional low-wage earners and their families may qualify for Medical Assistance coverage as a result of a new law that extends coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, including a standard 5 percent income disregard, or about $15,000 per year.
This law allows the state to exercise its option under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to expand Medical Assistance.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for adults without children who qualify through 2016. Beginning in 2017, the federal government will gradually reduce that support to 90 percent of the cost for 2020 and subsequent years.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about any of these laws or other legislative issues.
State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer 
123 State Office Building 
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
St. Paul, MN 55155 
Phone: 651-296-5655 


NEW BIG LAKE BOUTIQUE OWNERS are Beth Koch, Shanna Romsdahl and Aadra Mielke.

FROM HOLLYHOCK FARM near Becker, Teresa Kukowski and her alpaca Francine have beautiful eyes and make beautiful garments from alpaca wool.

(L to R) Michelle Garcia and Steve Karel, two of the newest faces at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, are looking forward to the opening of the Oak Savanna Learning Center in October. (Photo by Aleah Stenberg)

VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE Big Lake’s Knowledge Bowl Team made their very first trip to state last week and came home with sixth place medals. Team members are (from the left), Jake Dickinson, Jack Flicker, Peter Wallace, Tim Poffenberger and Jacob Block. The team is coached by Teacher Angela McCormack. (Submitted photo).