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Sunday liquor store sales, other new state laws, take effect

The electronic sign at Cold One Liquor advertises Sunday sales. Jana Peterson/Pine Journal

For the first time in state history, Minnesota liquor stores could legally sell alcohol on Sunday. Gary Stowell, owner of Cold One Liquor in Cloquet, said the store was busy from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the hours set by the state for Sunday sales.

"Sales were fantastic," Stowell said. "Some customers actually came in and took selfies of themselves buying liquor in Minnesota."

Although they aren't required to open on Sundays, many of the area liquor stores did take advantage of the new law.

Sunnyside Liquor owner Dick Kari said sales were good at his store at 607 Sunnyside Drive in Cloquet.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said Kari, adding that they plan to be open every Sunday. "We'll see how it goes."

Another local liquor store employee said she heard a lot of comments "about not having to run to Wabegon," referring to the Wabegon Bar and Grill just over the border in Wisconsin.

July 1 also brought into effect a slew of other new laws, including benefits for adults diagnosed with autism, a ban on state vendors who boycott Israel and a technology update for credit unions.

Read on for a selection of ways the Legislature and the governor changed life in Minnesota this year:

Improved benefits for people with autism

Children and teens with autism spectrum disorders have had access to intensive treatment since the Minnesota Legislature passed a law in 2013. Now, adults younger than 21 with either autism or a related condition have access to those same benefits.

"Medically necessary" services — most of what's included — are eligible for reimbursement by medical assistance.

The program aims to develop the behavior, comprehension, communication, support, safety and social interaction of people diagnosed with autism disorders or related conditions.

As of 2011, about 9 percent of children in the state ages 3 to 21 with disabilities are autistic, according to data from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Data Center.

State vendors can't boycott Israel

Vendors who discriminate against Israel won't be selling to the Minnesota Legislature or state agencies anymore. State contracts even require a certification of compliance as proof.

If larger businesses discriminate by "actions intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories," their business is not welcome with Minnesota state agencies or the Legislature.

Vendors are exempt if sales are less than $1,000 or if the boycotts stems from a valid business reason.

Earlier this year, all 50 state governors denounced Israel boycotts. Minnesota is joining the ranks of about 20 other states with similar legislation.

Credit unions go online

It took only a five-word change in state law to allow credit unions to use technology to communicate with their members.

Now, credit unions can electronically notify their members about meetings — rather than mailing or handing them notices — and members are no longer required to vote by a mail-in ballot.

Compilation of new laws assembled by the Minnesota House Public Information Services

• Foreign medical faculty physicians don't need to renew their licenses. Foreign medical faculty physicians' licenses were set to expire July 2018. The Legislature repealed that, making the licenses permanent. The law essentially enables foreign doctors of "eminent qualifications" to have provisional licenses to practice medicine at either the University of Minnesota or Mayo Clinic, according to Rep. Matt Dean, one of the sponsors of the bill. "We want to make sure any changes to licensing are to protect safety, but also we want to allow people who are really uniquely gifted and skilled to come to Minnesota to teach and practice," said Dean, R-Dellwood.

• Search warrants required for DWI blood and urine tests. A couple of years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that during a DWI arrest, it is illegal to force the person involved to take a blood or urine test without a search warrant. The Minnesota Supreme Court reaffirmed this decision with two more cases. Now, Minnesota has changed its state law in light of the decisions. A person can still be required to use a Breathalyzer, however.

• A new state budget that spends about 10 percent more on programs and services in the next two years than the state spent in the last two years.

• New tax cuts for farmers, Social Security recipients and heirs of large estates.

• Real estate appraisers have to disclose new crimes "involving moral turpitude" or otherwise related to the job when they renew their licenses. However, disciplinary data against appraisers will be public for only five years before it is made private, and partial or informal complaints cannot count as formal complaints.

• More money to manage plant pests and noxious weeds.

• More than $500 million will be appropriated toward improving the state's water quality.

• Permit for annual use of state parks increases from $25 to $35, and state park day passes increase from $5 to $7, among other fee increases.

Next month, the state will add some new crimes to the list, so don't think about doing any of these things:

• Imitate any military member or veteran. That became a misdemeanor.

• While imitating, try to order someone around, obtain access to a public building that's supposed to be closed, or operate a vehicle that looks like a public safety vehicle. That's a gross misdemeanor.

• Damage a public safety vehicle. That's a gross misdemeanor with felony penalties.

• Board a loaded or moving school bus and then refuse to leave when ordered by the driver. That's a misdemeanor.

• Enter an area that courts or officials have specified as off-limits — called "geographic restriction." That will carry a misdemeanor penalty.