State residents have new laws by which to abide

WORTHINGTON -- Do you have a pet bear, lion, wild-cat or non-human primate? If so, a new Minnesota law that went into effect Aug. 1 mandates a sign must be posted on the premises indicating an exotic animal is present, and the sign must include t...

WORTHINGTON -- Do you have a pet bear, lion, wild-cat or non-human primate? If so, a new Minnesota law that went into effect Aug. 1 mandates a sign must be posted on the premises indicating an exotic animal is present, and the sign must include the word 'dangerous.' The person who houses such an animal is guilty of a crime if lack of control or confinement of the animal results in bodily harm to a human.

This is one of many new laws that went into effect Aug. 1. Laws regarding child pornography, human trafficking, counterfeiting, computer crimes and more also went into effect, and several address the penalties involved in such crimes.

Credit Freezing

In an effort to help fight identity theft, consumers are now able to place a security freeze on distribution of their credit report, which can stop credit-reporting agencies from sharing their personal information and lenders from opening new accounts unless the person 'thaws' their credit first.

For those who wish to freeze credit, they must send a certified letter with full name, address, social security number, date of birth and all addresses at which they have lived for the past five years to each of the three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If a person is an identity theft victim, he or she should send police reports and case numbers to prove victimization, and the freeze is free. Thaws also are free. If not a victim of identity theft, send $5 or a credit card number to each credit bureau.


The bureaus have three business days to freeze a person's credit. Approximately 10 days later, a personal identification number needed to thaw the credit will be issued.

Thawing can be done over the phone for $5, and the bureau again has three business days to complete it. A word to the wise: If thawing for a specific transaction, find out what credit bureau the business uses, so only one bureau has to be thawed and refrozen.

A freeze prevents any application -- mortgage, car loan, cell phone -- from going through until the credit thaws, so be sure to plan ahead. Companies with which a person already does business can still pull a credit report for maintenance, credit line increases and account upgrades. Others with access include the government, credit monitoring subscription services and collection agencies.

Data Privacy increased

A new law imposes tighter security of phone records, genetic information and various other private data.

The law makes it illegal to solicit, sell or attempt to sell or receive a telephone record without authorization from the customer to whom the record pertains. This applies to records for traditional wire lines as well as for wireless and computer technology.

The law also classifies genetic information held by a government entity as private data and defines what type of consent is needed for its collection or dissemination.

Video game rentals by minors


A person younger than 17 who knowingly rents or purchases a video game rated "Adults Only" or "Mature" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board will be subject to a $25 civil penalty. The law requires retailers to post a sign in a location clearly visible to consumers informing them of the penalty. The clerk who sells or rents the game is responsible for calling authorities.

Abortion regulations

Changes to Minnesota's abortion statutes are among the provisions of a law that aims to address the rising cost of health care in the state. Under the new law, a female seeking an abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly that will inevitably result in the death of the infant must be informed of available perinatal hospice services and offered the care as an alternative to abortion.

Perinatal hospice care is defined as "comprehensive support to the female and her family that includes support from the time of the health diagnosis through the birth and death of the infant and through the postpartum period."

Organ donations sought

A minimum of 30 minutes of teaching related to organ and tissue donation will be required as part of Minnesota's driver education curriculum. Although the law went into effect Aug. 1, the instruction does not become mandatory until Jan. 1, 2007. It applies to both public and private schools and commercial drivers' training programs. Previous law required only that students be informed of their option to donate.

Veteran benefits

A new law is designed to make Minnesota a more veteran-friendly state by providing new benefits and protection for current and former members of the military. Some of the provisions of the law include:


l Employers must grant leaves of absence to employees whose family members are mobilized for active duty military service or injured or killed during such service.

l All public and private employers in Minnesota -- except independent contractors -- must grant unpaid leave to an employee whose immediate family member has been mobilized for active duty military service in support of a war or other national emergency. Employers may limit the amount of leave to the actual time necessary to attend a military send-off or homecoming ceremony, not to exceed one day's duration in any calendar year.

l Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the University of Minnesota are directed to treat all veterans as residents for the purpose of undergraduate tuition rates.

l Two new memorial plaques -- one honoring Minnesota's Medal of Honor recipients and one honoring military war dogs and their handlers -- are authorized on Capitol grounds. Pending approval by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Capitol Area Architectural Planning Board, the plaques will be placed in the Court of Honor near the Veterans Service Building. The law states both must be privately financed.

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