A number of new laws will go on the books July 1 and below is some information on that subject, as well as an update regarding flood relief. Many of the changes are budgetary following a $263 million supplemental spending bill that passed this year in light of our $1.23 billion surplus forecast in February. Health and Human Services will receive the greatest increase at $104 million. This is largely due to the $80 million (5 percent) increase we provided to home- and community-based care providers. A notable non-budget set of changes is designed to help curb the theft of smartphones.
Effective this July 1, 2014, all Minnesota phone dealers must keep a written record of each acquisition that includes information about the device, the seller of the device and more. Manufacturers will have until July 1, 2015, to equip phones with the antitheft function.
Click here for complete details on the new laws.
The column I submitted to area newspapers this week pertained to recovery efforts after huge amounts of rain hit Minnesota this month. Here are some of the key points: There are 35 counties included in a State of Emergency declared by an Executive Order from Gov. Mark Dayton. This makes a wide range of state resources/assistance available and engages state agencies. I was surprised that none of the counties in District 12B – Douglas, Pope and Stearns – were left off the eligibility list. The way it works is individual counties total up their damages to uninsured public structures, and if they reach certain amounts, they would be declared disaster counties. The formula uses population figures and multiplies that by a set dollar amount, in this case, $3.50, to come up with individual county thresholds.
For Stearns County, whose 2010 census figure was just over 150,000, the threshold is just over $527,000. The figure for Pope County with its population of just under 11,000 is $38,000. And for Douglas County and its 36,000 residents, the amount is just over $126,000. Under new state disaster legislation, if damage in a county amounts to one-half of those set figures, they would become eligible for disaster aid.Also, I have said some of the largest losses are to agriculture in the form of eroded top soil and lost crop production. If individual counties are declared disaster areas, farmers in those and adjacent counties will be eligible for federal aid in the form of emergency loans. Losses must exceed 30 percent in crops or livestock.
Rural Finance Authority disaster loans are also a possibility that can be utilized for losses not covered by insurance such as feed stocks being washed away. We are still awaiting word as to whether Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special session so we can provide flood relief beyond the $3 million that is available without the Legislature convening. Let me know if I can be of assistance to anyone with questions or problems dealing with the excess water situation.
Please contact my office in St. Paul at 651-296-4317 or my home phone at 320-239-2726.