Higher pay, quicker marriage licenses among new August laws

Published 10:11 am Monday, August 1, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — August brings about new laws in Minnesota that will impact drug offenders, newlyweds, people earning the minimum wage and more.

But the verdict is still out on some big-ticket items like tax relief and construction projects as leaders pursue a special session to wrap up that unfinished work.

Here’s a look at some of the new laws that take effect Monday:

Digital lives after death

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Call it the will of the 21st century: Bequeath the house, the car, the bank account and then the Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The new law allows Minnesota residents to specify who gets control of their digital assets after death — or ensure no one can touch them.

It was prompted by the death of 19-year-old Jacob Anderson in 2013. His parents, Kristi and Bill Anderson of Orono, were unable to access their son’s iPhone that they hoped could answer some of the mysteries of why he was found dead along the Mississippi River.

Minimum wage

Minnesota’s minimum hourly wage is increasing to $9.50, the final increase in a trio of hikes the Legislature passed in 2014. Starting in 2018, the wage will increase annually based upon inflation.

Read a past story about Austin and Albert Lea businesses bracing for minimum wage hikes at www.austindailyherald.com/?p=673689 or in the July 12 Herald


Patients who face long drives to pick up medication are about to get some help. Starting in August, pharmacists can send patients home with a 90-day supply of medicine so long as they’ve already used up a month’s worth of medication. The expansion doesn’t apply to controlled substances, so patients on the state’s medical marijuana program are out of luck.

Drug sentencing

It took a battle in the Legislature, but some of the state’s drug sentencing guidelines will be reduced for first-and second-degree drug possession sentences, reserving harsher treatment for big-time drug dealers and violent offenders.

The new guidelines supplant the more drastic changes set in motion late last year by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, which law enforcement and county officials complained would offer lighter treatment to drug dealers. Monday’s change is meant to free up hundreds of prison beds amid concern that Minnesota’s prisons are over capacity.

Revenge porn

Prompted by horror stories across the U.S. of men and women whose exes posted nude photographs online after a breakup, Minnesota law will now specifically ban disseminating sexual photos or images if both people depicted haven’t consented.

More than half of the United States bans so-called revenge porn.

Marriage license

Because “I declare you man and wife five days from now” just didn’t have the same ring to it, the new law erases the waiting period after applying for a marriage license.

That leaves Wisconsin as the sole remaining state with a lengthy wait. Minnesota joins most states in issuing marriages licenses immediately.