ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - It’s almost time to ring in the New Year, and there are a few laws in Minnesota that are going into effect along with it.
During the 2023 legislative sessions, several new laws were passed and signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz. While many went into effect throughout the year, here is a list of some new laws going into effect in Minnesota on Jan. 1, 2024.
Earned sick and safe time
A law enacting paid sick and safe time for employees in Minnesota goes into effect on Jan 1. The new law allows employees access to paid time off if they are sick, caring for a sick family member, or seeking assistance if they or a family member has experienced sexual assault, stalking or domestic abuse.
For every 30 hours worked, an employee earns one hour of sick and safe time. An employee can earn a maximum of 48 hours per year unless an employer agrees to additional hours.
Employees who use sick and safe time get paid the same hourly rate as if they were working. To qualify for sick time, employees cannot be independent contractors and must work at least 80 hours per year for an employer in Minnesota.
Closing the gender and racial pay gap
Starting on Jan. 1, a new law goes into effect to help narrow the gender and racial pay gap as women, people of color, and Indigenous people are often paid less compared to white men, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Under the new law, employers are to base applicants' pay on their skills, education, certifications, licenses, the current job market, and other qualifications. Employers cannot ask about an applicant's current pay or consider their past or current pay during the hiring process.
The new law affects public, private and nonprofit employers in the state.
Minimum wage increase
On Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum wage in Minnesota will increase by 2.5% to adjust for inflation. Large employers are required to increase the minimum wage from $10.59 to $10.85 an hour.
Meanwhile, wages for young people and training, the summer work travel exchange visitor program, and small businesses will increase from $8.63 to $8.85 an hour.
However, the new minimum wage law does not apply to Minneapolis or St. Paul, which has higher minimum wage rates. In July, Minneapolis raised the minimum wage for small businesses to $14.50 and $15.19 for large businesses.
Currently, in St. Paul, large businesses must pay employees $15.57 an hour, small businesses pay $14 an hour, and youth training is $11.90 an hour. Under St. Paul law, hourly wages increase every year.
‘Red flag’ law
Starting on Jan. 1, certain individuals can petition a court for an "extreme risk protection order", including on an emergency basis, which can temporarily prohibit someone from owning a firearm.
The law requires that the person "poses a significant danger of bodily harm to other persons or is at significant risk of suicide by possessing a firearm."
Furthermore, "a petition for emergency relief shall additionally allege that the respondent presents an immediate and present danger of either bodily harm to others or of taking their life."
Once the court receives the petition, a hearing must be held within 14 days, unless otherwise noted. If a judge issues an order, the person is required to hand over their firearms within 24 hours.
The person may lose their firearms for up to one year and will get their firearms back after the order expires.
Changes to juvenile offender's rights
A new law allocating $3.56 billion for Minnesota’s public safety, judiciary, and corrections departments and agencies went into effect on June 1, 2023, but a policy change affecting minors won't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024.
Under the new law, strip searches of detained juveniles are no longer allowed, and it’s also prohibited to use isolation as a form of punishment.
The law prohibits life sentences without the possibility of parole for those convicted of homicide under the age of 18. Those who committed offenses as juveniles must be eligible for the possibility of release after serving 15, 20 or 30 years, which went into effect in June.
Rental unit heat
A landlord will be required to heat a unit at a minimum temperature of 68 degrees from Oct. 1 through April 30, beginning in 2024.
The Minnesota Legislature has also developed the Cold Weather Rule to protect a tenant or homeowners from having their heat source permanently disconnected during the same time frame if they have been unable to pay their utility bills.
While the rule does not explicitly prohibit shut-offs, it says a utility must remain reconnected for a customer whose household income is at or below 50% of the state median income – if the customer enters into and makes, "reasonably timely payments under a mutually acceptable payment agreement."
Access to menstrual products in schools
At the start of the New Year, school districts and charter schools are required to provide free menstrual products in restrooms for students in grades 4 to 12.
The state legislature passed a new law with several provisions to protect Minnesotan's voting rights. Among the provisions are new restrictions for foreign-influenced corporations.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, foreign-influenced corporations cannot make certain types of contributions or expenditures, including:
- To promote or defeat a candidate for nomination, election, or appointment to a public office
- To promote or defeat a ballot question or qualify a ballot question for placement on the ballot
- Making contributions to a candidate or a candidate’s principal campaign committee
- Making contributions to a political committee, political fund, or party unit
- Taking any action to publicly endorse or oppose a candidate or ballot question
Corporations that do make authorized contributions or expenditures as allowed by law are required to submit a certification to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board stating it was not influenced by foreigners.
Additionally, the tax and policy finance law includes an increase in political contribution refunds for those who make a donation to Minnesota political parties and candidates for state offices.
If making a contribution during the 2024 year and beyond, the refund will increase from $50 to $75 for those filing taxes individually and from $100 to $150 for married joint filers.
New license plate options
Under the omnibus transportation finance package, there is a bill adding several new license plate options available at the start of the New Year.
Soon, fans of the Vikings, Timberwolves, Lynx, Wild, Twins or Minnesota United can purchase a plate bearing the team’s logo if they contribute $30 annually to charitable foundations associations with the respective team.
A plate for Lions Club International and a plate honoring murdered Indigenous people will be available with an annual contribution going to their respective purposes.
Additionally, a "blackout" plate with white text on a black background will be available starting Jan. 1, 2024.
Changes in driver’s exams
After Minnesotans struggled to book driver’s license road tests in the Twin Cities metro area, the Public Safety Department is required to give real-time information on the location and availability of driver exam appointments.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, the website will provide an option to enter an address and sort by distance to see the date and time of the next exam at each location.
Currently, an appointment is needed for a road skills test, which can be made 30 days in advance. The DMV says it adds appointments regularly, and there are cancellations, so check back for available appointments.
Under the public safety and judiciary finance law, provisions were added for how landlords and tenants interact in certain situations for pets, repairs, and evictions.
Some provisions include:
- A landlord is required to provide heat, at least 68 degrees, when temperatures drop below 60 degrees outside between Oct. 1 to April 30
- A tenant can petition for an emergency repair for incidents of not having heat, losing running water or sanitary facilities, and a broken refrigerator
- Landlords are only allowed in a residential unit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and are required to give at least a 24-hour notice before entering. Tenants can give landlords permission to enter outside those hours and with less than 24-hour notice, if desired.
- Before bringing an eviction notice for lack of payment, the landlord is required to provide a letter explaining the amount owed, and then wait 14 days before filing the notice to give the tenant time to pay
- For a building that allows pets, a landlord cannot refuse to rent a unit to someone who has not declawed or devocalized their animal or require that a tenant do so to their pet
Ergonomics safety program
Passed under a $1.4 billion jobs and economic development package, an ergonomics safety program to minimize workplace injuries in certain industries will be mandated on Jan. 1, 2024.
The program will be required for all hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, nursing homes, as well as warehouses and poultry processing or meatpacking sites with 100 or more employees. However, the bill did not state what the program would entail.
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses increased 15% in 2022 compared to the previous year. The industries with the highest rates of injury and illness include state government hospitals with 31.4 cases per 100 workers, and state government nursing and residential care facilities with 15.9 cases per 100 workers.
New safety standards for contractors at Minnesota oil refineries
Contractors working at Minnesota’s two oil refineries must meet workplace training requirements, with 30% of contractors qualifying as "skilled and trained" by Jan. 1, 2024.
The new safety standards require contracts between refineries and contractors to ensure a percentage of workers are graduates or apprentices of a registered apprentice program. The requirements will be phased out over the next three years with 45% of contractors qualified as "skilled and trained" by Jan. 1, 2025, and 60% by Jan. 1, 2026.
Existing contacts must be renegotiated by Jan. 1, 2025, but some exemptions can be provided. Companies that don’t comply with the law can be fined $5,000 to $10,000 per violation.