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Are you obeying new laws?

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If you're in the habit of pointing lasers at airplanes, investing your company's money in Iran's energy sector, making a fast buck by selling other people's life insurance policies, or operating a sex trafficking ring, listen up:

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You now face tougher consequences.

If, on the other hand, you're prone to losing your cell phone, pursuing a veterinarian career in rural Minnesota, or want to pass that annoying driver ahead of you, take heart:

Help is on the way.

An assortment of new laws took effect in Minnesota on August 1 as part of the 2009 legislative session.

The following summary was provided through the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services:

Lost cell phones

Lost your cell phone? No need to worry about being liable for charges the finder may rack up.

Under a new law, a customer will not be liable for charges resulting from unauthorized use of their cell phone, if the wireless provider has been notified that the phone is lost or stolen.

The customer will have to agree, however, to suspend use of the wireless device.

Ticket sellers beware

Ticket sellers are required to make available for sale all tickets under their control or face a possible misdemeanor charge.

Under the law, the initial ticket seller will need permission from the event or venue provider before initial ticket sales can be diverted to a bid website, or under any other terms.

Sex trafficker penalties

As part of an overall effort to stop sex trafficking in the state, criminal penalties will become more severe.

Effective for crimes committed on or after August 1, the law changes the definition of sex trafficking and increases the fine.

It also contains a provision for a 25-year sentence for first- and second-degree cases involving aggravating factors.

Divesting from Iran

A new law requires the State Board of Investment to divest assets it currently holds with companies that do business with, or invest in, Iran's energy sector.

The board must identify and compile a list of companies engaging in "scrutinized business operations" in Iran. It will then notify the affected companies that they may be subject to divestment.

Dental therapist licenses

A provision in the omnibus higher education law calls for a new class of mid-level dental practitioners - dental therapists.

These oral health care practitioners will serve as a middle option between dentists and hygienists, and work in underserved areas. The law lays out educational requirements for dental therapists and "advanced dental therapists," and also establishes licensure requirements and other regulations. The Board of Dentistry will receive $110,000 to pay for licensing dental therapists.

U.S.-made clothing,

vet student loans

Among provisions in the omnibus higher education law is a requirement that campus bookstores at public colleges and universities, to the extent possible, offer clothing for sale that was manufactured in the United States.

Veterinary students can look forward to a new large animal veterinary loan forgiveness program that will focus on helping veterinarians who operate full-time practices in "underserved" rural areas and work mostly with food animals. The law includes $225,000 for the program.

Insurance claims

Let's say you own a store and a fire destroys the building and your inventory. You have insurance, but you may find you have to hire a lawyer to get the insurance company to pay up. A new law will allow for a 10 percent interest charge on the insurance proceeds calculated from the time the insured requests payment of the policy amount, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

Life insurance policies

Some people who purchase a life insurance policy sell it to a third party before the policy matures. A new law modifies statutes regulating viatical settlements.

Under the law, a broker or provider will need to be licensed by the state where the person selling the policy resides. A licensed insurance producer agent in good standing will be allowed to operate as a viatical settlement broker. The law also lays out grounds for a license to be suspended or revoked and for refusal to issue the license of the provider, broker or agent.

No laser pointing at planes

Knowingly pointing a laser at an aircraft could result in a jail sentence.

A new law makes the action a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. When the laser hits an aircraft windshield, it turns the plexiglass opaque, blinding the pilot. Lasers that run on AAA batteries can be purchased at many office supply stores or big box retailers and some have a range of up to 10 miles.

Fallen firefighters honored

A new law designates the first Sunday in October as Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day. On that day, each U.S. and Minnesota flag on the Capitol grounds will be flown at half-staff. There have been 197 line-of-duty firefighter deaths in Minnesota.

Speed limit increase

Drivers will be allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10 mph when passing another vehicle going the same direction on a two-lane highway with a speed limit of at least 55 mph. This provision is part of a new law making failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense.

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