Laws do get passed

We tend to complain at the end of a legislative session when Minnesota legislators have failed to get their most important bills passed, but even in so-called “do-nothing” sessions, a lot of laws get passed that have quite a bit of impact on people. They are important laws and make a good bit of sense.

Many of these laws became effective last week, and we’d like to recognize some of the standouts.

In the area of public safety, one important law closes the loophole in the state’s DWI law that allowed someone to operate a snowmobile or ATV off-road after getting a DWI, and to keep their drivers license after being convicted for off-road operate of a snowmobile or ATV. The law is called “Little Allen’s Law,” after the 8-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a man operating a snowmobile while intoxicated after his driver’s license had been revoked for a prior DWI offense.

This law makes so much sense. The law now says if you get a DWI in any kind of vehicle, your driving privileges are revoked on-road, off-road, and on the water — no motorboat operations after a DWI for a 90-day period between May 1 and Oct. 31.

Another law gives law enforcement specific abilities to go after those who steal IDs with “skimmers,” devices attached to ATMs, fuel pumps or other point of sale terminals. People who insert their debit or credit cards unknowingly have their card information skimmed by these devices.

State law also lays out new procedures for handling sexual assault examination kits. It sets up time frames to prevent the backlog of unexamined “rape kits” that sit in some evidence rooms in the state. The Star Tribune’s recent series on the sorry state of sexual assault investigations makes this issue very timely.

On a lighter note, a new law says you can’t pretend your pet is a “service animal” so you can take it with you wherever you go. Untrained pets give those animals that are trained and serve a truly beneficial function a bad name.

These are just some of the 43 new state laws that took effect Wednesday.Good job, legislators.

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