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Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, Gov. Mark Dayton, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, appear happy together at the annual pre-session briefing hosted by Forum News Service on Feb. 13. (File photo: Kevin Featherly)

In the Hopper: Key bills signed, vetoed so far

Thus far in the legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton has signed or vetoed 36 bills passed by the Legislature. What follows is a selection of 16 bills that he has signed or vetoed that might be of interest to attorneys. The legislation’s lead authors are listed in parentheses.

Senate File 3133 (Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson): Approves a one-time transfer of $9.65 million from the Driver and Vehicle Services special revenue fund to improve the clunky Minnesota License and Registration System (MNLARS). Another one-time $350,000 appropriation goes to the Office of the Legislative Auditor for fiscal years 2018-19, to pay for an information technology auditor position established in the bill. Signed into law Feb. 22.

House File 399 (Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth):  Provides budget funding for the Minnesota House and Senate and reimburses money borrowed last year from the Legislative Coordinating Commission to keep the Capitol operating over the interim. This bill in reinstates legislative appropriations vetoed by the governor last year, prompting the Legislature to sue Dayton. Signed into law Feb. 26.

Senate File 3154 (Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona): Approves employee contracts for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees; the Middle Management Association; and other state-employee unions. Signed into law March 27.

House File 3158 (Rep. Dario Anselmo, R-Edina): Changes licensing requirements for Minnesota mortgage loan originators. Signed into law on April 25.

House File 2764 (Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove): Modernizes and makes technical changes to business organization laws relating to corporate domestication and conversions, nonprofit and limited liability companies, and both partnerships and limited partnerships. This bill was a priority of the Minnesota State Bar Association for 2018. Signed into law on April 25.

House File 3157 (Rep. Steve Green, R- Fosston): Creates a petty misdemeanor charge for anyone who, on a first offense, misrepresents an animal as a service animal; a second offense is a misdemeanor. The bill allows conspicuous signs to be posted in places of public accommodation warning that it is illegal to pass a fake service animal off as the real thing. Signed into law on April 26.

House File 3841 (Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia):  Increases the monetary threshold for contracts solicited under the Uniform Municipal Contracting Law. Contracts expected to exceed $175,000 must now be solicited through public notice and submitted as sealed bids. Previously, the threshold was $100,000. Signed into law on April 26.

Senate File 2484 (Sen. Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth): Designates a section of U.S. Highway 12 in Wayzata as the “Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Highway.” Mathews, 47, was killed on that road on Sept. 8, 2017, when he was struck motorist Beth Freeman, 54, of Mound. On May 11, Freeman was sentenced to 98 months in prison after pleading guilty to criminal vehicular homicide. Signed into law on May 3.

House File 3551 (Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R- Stillwater):  Modifies Safe at Home, an address confidentiality program administered by the Minnesota Secretary of State. Among its changes, the bill dictates that participation in the program can’t be factored into any civil, criminal or administrative proceedings related to incidents precipitating the victim’s enrollment. Safe at Home assigns stalking, domestic assault and sexual assault victims a Post Office box to use as a legal address. They are then allowed to keep their residential, school or employment addresses confidential. Signed into law on May 3.

House File 2743 (Smith): Amends the statute of limitations on claims for damages related to construction on real property. In cases of bodily injury or wrongful death, causes of action now accrue from the time an injury is discovered. Causes of action related to real or personal property damage accrue when damages are discovered—but not before construction is substantially completed, stopped or abandoned. Signed into law on May 8.

House File 3389 (Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover): Under state law, child support orders can be modified if the payer’s circumstances change, rendering an order unreasonable or unfair. Until now, however, changes in the law were presumed not to be “substantial” for purposes of modifying support orders. The Scott bill, signed into law on May 8, reverses that presumption.

Senate File 3306 (Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake): Amends campaign finance disclosures and independent expenditures, non-campaign disbursements and reporting, and coordinated/non-coordinated expenditures. One section lists a series of actions that, taken alone, won’t be considered coordination with an outside spender. Examples: A candidate may offer the spender a donor list—just so long as the spender never states or suggests that funds thus generated could finance independent expenditures benefiting the candidate. It is also OK for a candidate to appear before a spender’s members, employees or shareholders—unless the event promotes a particular election outcome. Spenders also can discuss with a candidate his or her policy positions without running afoul of the revamped law. The 29-page bill was signed into law on May 8.

House File 817 (Rep. Bob Loonan, R-Shakopee): Establishes several new gross misdemeanor- and felony-level crimes for interfering with point-of-sale terminals, gas pump dispensers and automated teller machines. Signed into law on May 8.

House File 3622 (Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska): Changes reinsurers’ accreditation and certification requirements. One key provision: To be eligible for Minnesota accreditation, a reinsurer must show the Commerce commissioner it has adequate financial capacity to meet its reinsurance obligations. It also must maintain a surplus, with regard to policyholders, of at least less $20 million. It passed unanimously in both houses and was signed into law on May 8.

House File 3280 (Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitken): The bill tried nullify water quality standards meant to protect wild rice from sulfate pollution and would have required the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to undertake a new rulemaking process before adopting new standards. Dayton called the attempted abolition “an extreme overreach” that would violate the federal Clean Water Act. it would also ensure “continued uncertainty from inevitable litigation,” Dayton said. He vetoed it on May 9.

House File 4157 (Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron):  Provides just over $268,000 to pay off several exoneration awards and legal claims. The largest sum, $131,636, goes to Ronnie Earl Patterson, 41, whose conviction for failing to register as a sex offender was overturned after the Minnesota Court of Appeals determined that his previous out-of-state conviction would not have required him to register, had the underlying crime occurred in Minnesota. Signed into law on May 14.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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