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Autism, Israel, DWI and more new laws

By S. M. Chavey

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Yes, for the first time in state history, Minnesota liquor stores had Sunday hours starting July 2.

But July 1 also brought into effect a slew of other new laws, including benefits for adults diagnosed with autism, a ban on state vendors who boycott Israel and a technology update for credit unions.

Read on for a selection of ways the Legislature and the governor changed life in Minnesota this year:

Improved benefits for people with autism

Children and teens with autism spectrum disorders have had access to intensive treatment since the Minnesota Legislature passed a law in 2013. Now, adults younger than 21 with either autism or a related condition have access to those same benefits.

“Medically necessary” services — most of what’s included —  are eligible for reimbursement by medical assistance.

The program aims to develop the behavior, comprehension, communication, support, safety and social interaction of people diagnosed with autism disorders or related conditions.

As of 2011, about 9 percent of children in the state ages 3 to 21 with disabilities are autistic, according to data from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Data Center.

State vendors can’t boycott Israel

Vendors who discriminate against Israel won’t be selling to the Minnesota Legislature or state agencies anymore. State contracts even require a certification of compliance as proof.

If larger businesses discriminate by “actions intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories,” their business is not welcome with Minnesota state agencies or the Legislature.

Vendors are exempt if sales are less than $1,000 or if the boycotts stems from a valid business reason.

Earlier this year, all 50 state governors denounced Israel boycotts. Minnesota is joining the ranks of about 20 other states with similar legislation.

Credit unions go online

It took only a five-word change in state law to allow credit unions to use technology to communicate with their members.

Now, credit unions can electronically notify their members about meetings — rather than mailing or handing them notices — and members are no longer required to vote by a mail-in ballot.

Foreign medical faculty physicians don’t need to renew their licenses

Foreign medical faculty physicians’ licenses were set to expire July 2018. The Legislature repealed that, making the licenses permanent.

The law essentially enables foreign doctors of “eminent qualifications” to have provisional licenses to practice medicine at either the University of Minnesota or Mayo Clinic, according to Rep. Matt Dean, one of the sponsors of the bill.

“We want to make sure any changes to licensing are to protect safety, but also we want to allow people who are really uniquely gifted and skilled to come to Minnesota to teach and practice,” said Dean, R-Dellwood.

Search warrants required for DWI blood and urine tests

A couple of years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that during a DWI arrest, it is illegal to force the person involved to take a blood or urine test without a search warrant.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reaffirmed this decision with two more cases.

Now, Minnesota has changed its state law in light of the decisions. A person can still be required to use a Breathalyzer, however.