New Year, New Laws In Minnesota

Posted at: 01/01/2014 9:12 PM
Updated at: 01/01/2014 10:16 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- January 1st not only marks the start of the new year, but the start of a number of new laws.

For nearly 35,000 low-income Minnesotans, the new year brings much needed health care coverage as an expansion to the state's medical assistance program goes into effect. The program uses federal funds to provide coverage for adults making less than $15,000 per year.

And when it comes to their health, homebuyers should be a little more confident this year as a new law regarding radon testing will require sellers to disclose any information they have about the radon levels in their home.

The odorless radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking, and Minnesota health officials say more than 40 percent of homes have dangerous levels of radon.

Also starting New Year's Day, private employers will no longer be able to ask about a job applicant's criminal history on job applications, and will have to wait to ask those questions until a formal interview is conducted.

Experts said the change will give qualified candidates an opportunity to explain themselves, giving them a better chance at getting the job.

"If they're honest, I don't mind helping them,” said Julie Diaz with Specialty Personnel Services in Austin. “We can help them find a job, and there's some good jobs out there, it just depends on the company."

And with police across the state fighting a continual battle against scrap metal thieves, scrapyard owners will now be required to post security cameras around their property.

"This is critical. We are seeing an increase across the country and it is only a matter of time before something bad happens in terms of critical infrastructure,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D). “That's why we've already seen people die, we've seen houses explode, and we've seen millions and millions of economic damage."

Officials hope the new law will help prevent stolen cars and other goods from being sold quickly for scrap.