New laws to take effect Thursday in Minnesota

Hands-free devices while driving, no groping, and no vaping become the law.

Posted: Jul 28, 2019 10:22 AM
Updated: Jul 28, 2019 11:03 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota motorists will be required to use hands-free devices if they want to talk on the phone while driving. Slower drivers must move over to let faster drivers pass. Groping a person's clothed buttocks without consent will become a crime. And vaping in public indoor spaces and workplaces will become as illegal as cigarette smoking in them.

Here's a sampling of several new laws passed during the 2019 legislative session that take effect Thursday, following a batch of other new laws that took effect July 1:

HANDS-FREE

State safety officials have been working hard to make sure that all motorists know by Thursday that they can't talk on the phone while driving unless they're using a hands-free device. They say the experience of other states shows that the crackdown on distracted driving will save lives. A first offense will cost $130 with the fine jumping over $300 for subsequent violations.

It will still be OK to operate a cellphone by voice commands or single-touch activation while driving — as long as you're not holding the phone. Built-in Bluetooth systems on newer cars solve the problem. So can Bluetooth speakers or earphones, or earbuds with a microphone as long as they're plugged into only one ear. Many retailers sell hands-free mounts. The Department of Public Safety has posted tips at HandsFreeMN.org.

Of course, the simplest, cheapest and safest solution is not to phone while driving at all. Officials point out that hands-free is not the same thing as distraction free.

MOVE OVER

Slowpoke drivers will need to stay out of the left lane. If a road has more than one lane in each direction, a driver must now get out of the leftmost lane to let faster drivers pass — assuming that's practical.

The new requirement does not apply when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, or into a private road or driveway, or preparing to leave a highway where the exit is on the left side.

Failure to get out of the way could mean a $125 fine.

NO GROPING

Intentionally touching someone's clothed buttocks with sexual or aggressive intent without their consent will now count as 5th degree criminal sexual conduct, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.

The new law eliminates an exemption that was inserted into the state's criminal sexual conduct laws over 30 years ago, back when many lawmakers thought criminal penalties for groping clothed buttocks were too severe. That was long before the rise of the #MeToo movement.

NO VAPING

Minnesota's Clean Indoor Air Act will expand to cover e-cigarettes, making them subject to the same prohibitions as tobacco smoking in restaurants and bars, as well as almost all other indoor workplaces and public places.

While at least 25 counties and 31 cities across the state have already imposed such restrictions, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, the new law expands the prohibitions statewide.

Besides protecting people from secondhand nicotine vapor, which can carry other harmful chemicals, the law is also aimed at curbing the epidemic of e-cigarette use among young people.

'GRANNY CAMS'

Residents of assisted living homes and their families will now have the right to install hidden monitoring cameras for two weeks before being required to notify the facilities.

The "granny cams" provision is part of a package of safeguards for seniors and vulnerable adults. It also includes protections against retaliation against residents and employees of care facilities — and relatives of residents — who file good faith complaints about maltreatment, assert legal rights, report crimes or file lawsuits.

PARENTAL RIGHTS

Certain parents who have lost their parental rights will have a little easier time trying to get them back.

Parents who've lost their children due to "non-egregious harm," typically meaning mental illness or chemical dependency, will be allowed to directly petition a judge to have their rights restored — if they can show that they've addressed their underlying issues and gotten their lives back on track. Previously, only county attorneys could file such petitions. A child must have been in foster care at least four years before the petitions can be filed.

The change does not apply to parents who lost their rights because of physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

Sponsors said the old rules were disproportionately hard on families of color with children stuck in the foster system. The decision on whether it's in a child's best interests is still up to the judge.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
Olmsted1185990
Sherburne878574
Carver787641
Clay695588
Rice677691
Blue Earth601035
Kandiyohi581274
Crow Wing523582
Chisago501745
Otter Tail486071
Benton450990
Winona419749
Mower410831
Douglas394568
Goodhue389069
Nobles387247
Polk345063
McLeod341250
Beltrami338951
Morrison327747
Becker314842
Itasca314646
Lyon313845
Isanti309456
Steele303611
Carlton300449
Freeborn286424
Pine283216
Nicollet262441
Todd249730
Brown248237
Le Sueur238120
Mille Lacs229447
Cass221224
Waseca210417
Meeker208134
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15404
Renville152640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13969
Pennington138716
Chippewa136935
Cottonwood136020
Wadena131420
Faribault124917
Aitkin119133
Sibley118310
Watonwan11828
Rock116314
Kanabec108820
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9548
Jackson94610
Swift87818
Pope8165
Marshall78615
Stevens7478
Lake74218
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68716
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4798
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41021
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
Sioux480369
Marshall465273
Des Moines428461
Muscatine426393
Buena Vista413237
Wapello4059110
Jasper387767
Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
Bremer270555
Carroll266948
Crawford253635
Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
Dickinson204240
Tama203065
Kossuth198655
Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
Fayette179335
Page178119
Buchanan177829
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172723
Hardin170239
Harrison167670
Clayton160254
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145741
Allamakee144848
Madison143218
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132430
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115340
Humboldt113725
Franklin109719
Guthrie109628
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
Montgomery96936
Clarke95120
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida81832
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72221
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4759
Wayne47221
Adams3194
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 43°
Mason City
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 40°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 42°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 38°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 32°
Kicking off the workweek with warmer temperatures
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Mary Kristin Scott PKG

Image

Tailgate service

Image

Fewer babies being born

Image

Sara's Sunday Night Forecast

Image

Blooming Prairie GBB PKG

Image

Sara's Saturday Night Forecast

Image

Olmsted County Fair asks for help from lawmakers

Image

RPU energy saving tips

Image

Officials hold roundtable on "reskilling" Minnesota's workforce

Image

Sen. Smith calls for COVID-19 relief bill to ensure vaccines are completely free for all

Community Events