New year brings new election and criminal punishment laws to Minnesota

Numerous new laws took effect in Minnesota on January 1. One law makes it impossible for officials to suspend the driver's license of somebody who doesn't show up for court or who drives after being ordered not to.

Minnesota Capitol (Wikimedia Commons)

Several new laws took effect in the state of Minnesota on Jan. 1.

Passed by the State Legislature during the 2021 session, the new laws pertain to elections, public safety, and transportation, among other areas.

On Tuesday the Minnesota House of Representatives briefly summarized some of the laws Minnesotans should be aware of.

For instance, the Legislature passed a few changes to campaign finance law. One of the most notable is an expansion of what it means to “expressly advocate.” The expanded definition will “include certain types of political communications, even if they do not use words or phrases of express advocacy,” according to the summary.

There are also numerous changes to Minnesota’s system for property forfeiture. In short, vehicles cannot be forfeited if a driver fails to appear in court, but they can be forfeited if they were used to transport or exchange “controlled substances.”

Personal property, real property, and $1,500 in cash can also be forfeited if there is “probable cause to believe they represent the proceeds of a controlled substance offense.”

Another law does not allow the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to suspend a person’s driver’s license for any of the following offenses: failure to appear in court after receiving a citation, failure to pay a traffic ticket or parking fine, and driving after suspension or revocation.

Still other laws will require employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth upon request,” offer free state park permits to members of any federally recognized tribe in Minnesota, and require Medical Assistance to cover “screenings and urinalysis tests for opioids without lifetime or annual limits.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.