New laws that take effect in Minnesota Aug. 1
BUSINESS AND COMMERCE
A new law, sponsored by Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) and Sen. David Tomassoni
(DFL-Chisholm), will clarify language related to mine inspection policy and require inspectors to have
at least two years of practical experience in mining or mining-related safety work.
The law will allow counties to abate the nuisance of an abandoned mine through various remedies
and recover costs through a special assessment. The law will also require notice of an accident to the
inspector of mines within one hour of the stabilization of the scene.
Help to secure family possessions after a crime
Sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), a new
law will amend the state’s so-called “slayer statute,” which is in place to prevent a killer from benefiting,
through inheritance, from the victim’s death.
As a law enforcement officer, Cornish was one of the first on the scene of a friend’s murder in August
2010. Later, the victim’s wife confessed to her husband’s death.
The victim’s family tried to recover mementos and personal property, both theirs and his, from the
house. At the time, the law called for the property to be sealed until there was a guilty verdict or other
The new law will allow a personal representative to file with the court an inventory of the decedent’s
personal property that may be affected by the so-called “slayer statute.” This list may serve as
documentation for later claims. Additionally, the court will be authorized to order certain relief regarding
the inventoried property, such as reserving determination of its distribution, holding it in trust or
prohibiting its disposition pending a final determination under the statute. It would also provide a notice
of the rights to crime victims.
HF161*/SF196/CH94Marriage no longer limited to a male and female
The state’s marriage laws will change from being male/female specific to authorize marriage and
divorce of two persons, regardless of gender. It will provide exemptions for churches and other religious
associations from providing goods or services related to same-sex marriage ceremonies, if doing so
would be in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs.
The law is sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls). As
a bill, its introduction into the legislative process came six months after voters turned down a ballot
measure to place in the state constitution a definition of marriage as being between one man and one
The debate in the Legislature was contentious, with frequent rallies at the State Capitol from those
on both sides of the issue. But an amendment on the House Floor to insert “civil” before the word
“marriage,” in all state statute references, tempered the debate, bringing in enough bipartisan support
for the measure to pass both bodies. The language change, it was thought, would clarify the distinction
between state-sanctioned civil marriages and marriages within religious faith traditions.
New law helps clarify who owns what upon a partner’s death
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) and Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina), a
new law will have Minnesota adopt the Uniform Community Property Rights at Death Act, which will
clarify, upon death, disposition of the property acquired by a married person.
States vary on how they treat property acquired by married couples. For instance, Minnesota is
a common law state, which means the property belongs to the person whose name appears on the
ownership document. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is a community property state where property and
possessions brought into the marriage remain with that partner; but whatever is earned or acquired
during the marriage is co-owned by both parties, regardless of who earned it or whose name is on the
If a couple has lived and acquired property in different states, this can create problems for the courts
when they attempt to determine rightful ownership upon one partner’s death.
Installment plans for prefunded funeral expenses available
Minnesotans will be able to prefund their funeral expenses and pay it out over a period of time.
The new law, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights) and Sen. Dan Sparks (DFLAustin), will exempt preneed insurance from the graded death benefit law, which requires the policy
premium to be paid in a single upfront payment. The specialty life insurance product is sold through a
life insurance contract.