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Sen. Torrey Westrom: New laws starting on Aug. 1

The Minnesota Legislature adjourned May 20 and passed a wide variety of new laws that will go into effect this year. The following is a list of highlighted new laws that will be in effect Aug. 1.

A new law pushed by the DFL leadership this session will change the term “marriage” in state law to “civil marriage” and expand the definition of who is eligible from “a man and a woman” to “two persons.” Current Minnesota law defines marriage traditionally between “one man and one woman.” I have long supported this law and affirm traditional marriage and families as the best design for raising children. The new law requires gender-neutral terms, and husband, wife, mother, father, widow, widower, and other similar terms will no longer refer to any particular gender. Also, Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is removed, which was enacted in this state in 1997.

All childcare providers should be able to provide quality, affordable services to parents without government interference; however, legislation was passed that may force daycare providers who accept state C-CAP (daycare subsidy) funds to join the union. Starting Aug. 1, 2013, any employee union wishing to represent child care providers may seek exclusive representation. Representation elections for providers must be conducted once a union demonstrates that at least 30 percent of providers have petitioned for an election. If the union is successful, many childcare providers who do not want to be unionized or can’t afford it will be forced to reject C-CAP children. In turn, this will create fewer quality childcare providers who will be able to accept children of hardworking, low income parents.

Under the omnibus game and fish bill passed this session, seriously ill individuals will be given a one-time allowance to purchase hunting licenses that are otherwise limited by a lottery drawing — including wild turkey, deer, bear, prairie chicken and wolf. In addition, veterans with a 100 percent permanently disabled status will receive a free permanent card that allows them to easily obtain a hunting license for deer or small game.

Spear fishing is expanded to 12 additional lakes, primarily in northern Minnesota. Lakes now open to spear fishing include Big Mantrap (Hubbard County), Lobster (Douglas), Beers and West Battle (Otter Tail), Cross (Pine), Sugar (Wright), Eagle (Hennepin), Owasso (Ramsey), and Deer, North Star, Moose and Spider Lakes (Itasca).

An 11-mile stretch of Trunk Highway 23 from Wakefield Township to Richmond in Stearns County is to be renamed in memory of a Minnesota Cold Spring police officer killed in the line of duty: Officer Tom Decker Memorial Highway. On Nov. 29, 2012, Officer Decker was shot and killed while responding to a call in downtown Cold Spring.

Here is a link to a list of additional laws that will go in effect Aug. 1: