(FOX 9) - During the first legislative session of Democrats holding a trifecta of power for the first time in a decade – controlling the House of Representatives, Senate and Governor position – several new laws were passed that are due to begin Aug. 1.
Numerous laws have already began since the session ended, but below is a list of several that could affect your life in Minnesota going forward.
The law that has arguably garnered the most attention throughout Minnesota, recreational marijuana flower, products and seeds will become legal on Aug. 1.
The legalization allows for personal possession of up to 2 pounds of marijuana at home, up to 2 ounces in public, and 800 mg of THC edibles, but it can't be consumed in public spaces.
Although the possession and usage of cannabis itself will be legal, the Office and Cannabis Management has still yet to issue licenses to dispensaries to sell the product – leaving a loophole as to where the user got it. Regardless, it will no longer be considered criminal.
For purchases made through a dispensary, like beginning in early 2025, a 10% retail tax on cannabis products, on top of existing retail taxes, will apply. Cities and towns will be able to limit the number of licensed retail cannabis businesses to one per 12,500 residents.
For those already charged with cannabis related offenses, the law will automatically expunge the criminal records of Minnesotans with petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor cannabis convictions.
Catalytic converter thefts
A longtime problem for Twin Cities car owners, selling stolen catalytic converters to scrap metal dealers will now be harder, and dealers will be held accountable for taking in stolen parts.
A dealer will now be required to submit details of each catalytic converter purchase to a Department of Public Safety database. Aside from a few minor exceptions, individuals found with illegally acquired detached catalytic converters can now be charged up to a felony under the new law.
An audio or video of a person digitally altered so they appear to be saying or doing something that in actuality did not happen – also known as a "deep fake" – will now be a crime in Minnesota.
Created using artificial-intelligence, deep fakes are often used with negative intent, or to spread misinformation to the public.
It will also be a crime to enter into an agreement to knowingly create deep fakes 90 days prior to an election.
Minnesota will now explicitly prohibit racial discrimination based on natural hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, locs and twists.
Known as the CROWN Act, the new law adds language to the definition of race in the Minnesota Human Rights Act that includes natural hair textures and hairstyles, preventing discrimination on the basis of hair.
Workforce training loans
Minnesota’s grant and loan programs for postsecondary students will now also include workforce training credentials.
With a goal of 70% of Minnesotans ages 25 to 44 to have a postsecondary credential, the Department of Labor and Industry will assist in estimating the number of industry-recognized credentials in the state that could provide further relief to the shortage of trade workers seen throughout the state.
Grant funds can now be used to recruit, prepare, and support students currently underrepresented in the state’s concurrent enrollment programs.
Previous rules regarding application deadlines for the state grant program, as well as, the licensure of private career schools, will also be repealed through the law change.
A major policy provision aims to reduce the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the environment.
The Department of Agriculture is to provide an interim report to the Minnesota Legislature by Feb. 1, 2024, on the risk and alternatives to pesticides containing PFAS – also known as "forever chemicals".
FOX 9 previously reported on a first-of-its-kind study that found it could cost billions of dollars over the next 20 years to remove PFAS from wastewater streams in Minnesota, underscoring the need to prevent PFAS from entering the environment in the first place.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2032, the commissioner may not register a pesticide product that contains intentionally added PFAS unless it is determined to be an unavoidable use.
Within the law will also require the Department of Agriculture, cultivated wild rice produces, representatives of Tribal governments, the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the University of Minnesota to make recommendations on the wild rice breeding program.
Addiction treatment changes
The supervised practice of alcohol and drug counseling by former students from 90 days after receiving their degree or certification will now be permissible under state law.
The law will also modify withdrawal management license requirements to allow supervised living facilities with a Class A license, no longer just those with Class B licenses, to operate withdrawal management programs.
Required documentation of significant events within 24 hours of said event, not "on the day" of the event, during a treatment program will be altered as well.
Military members’ prosecution
The Veterans Restorative Justice Act will increase access to programs and treatment for veterans with a service-related condition that led or contributed to a conviction for criminal offenses, allowing current and former military members charged with certain crimes to learn whether they are eligible for deferred sentencing before a finding of guilt or innocence. Conditions such as substance abuse, trauma and traumatic brain injuries will be eligible.
The act hopes to create post-plea sentencing options to avoid jail time, while also providing eligible veterans additional resources to successfully reintegrate into society.