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Ortonville, Minnesota
December 28, 2010     The Ortonville Independent
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December 28, 2010

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A set of new laws goes into effect starting this Jan. 1,2011. They include new protections for consumers who fall prey to bad or faulty workmanship by contractors. The new law essentially protects consumers for up to ten years after the work is performed by allow- ing them to work through an expedited resolution process rather than the courts. Another new law allows a govern- ment agency who is enforcing child support to collect more information about a payee. Collection of email and cell phone information as well as other contact data is now permissible. This new law is designed to help track down people not paying child support. There are also new laws governing the certification of rehab workers who assist the blind, the blocking of inter- sections, information on the disposal of needles as well as a new with provi- sions that prevents health care plans from denying care to those who fail to pay within a certain period. A list of these laws is below with links to the full language. Homeowners have the right to make builders or contractors repair major damages that occur in their homes as the result of faulty workmanship per- formed within the last 10 years. But when a builder or contractor denies fault, resulting lawsuits can drag out for years and cost both sides thousands of dollars in legal fees. A new law, sponsored by Rep. Mar- sha Swails (DFL-Woodbury) and Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), es- tablishes a dispute resolution process through the Department of Labor and Industry. Under the provision, the de- partment will maintain a list of quali- fied "neutrals" who can evaluate home warranty claims before a lawsuit could be filed. The neutral will issue a non- binding decision that could not be used as evidence in a court case. The law also allows for alternative dispute resolution processes if agreed to by both sides. In addition, it clarifies a builder or contractor's rights and ob- ligations to inspect building defects and offer to make the necessary repairs. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERV- ICES - New certification requirements To be certified by the state, rehabil- itation counselors working with people who are sight-impaired will be required to complete certain training require- ments. This includes: at least six weeks of intensive training at an adjustment-to-blindness I| center; any additional training require- ments specified by State Services for the Blind; and any continuing education require- ments specified by SSB. These provisions are part of a broader law, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) and Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), re- quiring all public documents in the state to be stored in a format that is ac- cessible to people with disabilities be- ginning Jan. 1,2013. Culled from Department of Human Services' recommendations, several changes will help track down people not paying their child support obliga- tions. Under the law, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley), a public au- thority attempting to collect child sup- port can request addresses, home and work telephone numbers, mobile tele- phone numbers and e-mail addresses from a payee Previously, only a place of residence, employment status, wage and benefit information and a Social Security number had to be provided. Additionally, a child support public authority will be permitted to adminis- tratively reassign basic support, med- ical support and child care support under certain conditions: if the child resides with the rela- tive caregiver who has applied for pub- lic assistance on behalf of the child; the child has been placed with a new caregiver by a voluntary place- ment agreement between the custodial parent and the caregiver that was ap- proved and is being monitored by county social service agencies; or the child has been placed with a new caregiver by the court and the child support issue was not addressed. State law governing enforceability of judgments is changed to provide that child support judgments are enforce- able 20 years after the entry of the judgment. This section applies retroac- tively to child support judgments that have not expired. Manufacturers of sharps and phar- maceutical companies that make drugs used in the sharps will have until July 1,2011, to share required information on their websites about plans for proper disposal of sharps and lancets. The plan must include a description of how the manufacturer will: provide for the safe collection and proper disposal of sharps; educate consumers about safe management and collection opportuni- ties; and support efforts by other groups with interest in protecting public health and safety through the sale, .A public health agency or clinic that participates in a needle exchange program must post on its website a plan that describes how the agency or clinic supports the safe collection and proper disposal of the sharps. A new law modifying rules on con- tracts between health plan companies and providers also has implications for patients. Sponsored by Rep Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Yvonne Pret- tner Solon (DFL-Duluth), the law spec- ifies that health plan companies may not prohibit providers from collecting deductibles and co-insurance from pa- tients at or prior to the time of service. It also prohibits providers from with- holding services from a health plan en- rollee based on failure to pay within the same timeframe. The law also modifies language re- lated to claims adjustment timelines and the termination of a contract be- tween a company and a provider. One provision prohibits companies from communicating with enrollees about the possible termination of a contract before receiving final notice from a provider. TRANSPORTATION- No blocking controlled intersections. While not cause for suspension or revocation of the violator's driver's li- cense, those who block an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal and impede movement of cross traffic could be subject to a ticket. The new law does not apply to movement of a vehicle made: at the direction of a city-authorized traffic-control agent or a peace officer; to facilitate passage of an author- ized emergency vehicle with its emer- gency lights activated; or to make a turn that allows the ve- hicle to safely leave the intersection. This is part of the omnibus trans- portation law sponsored by Rep. Frank Homstein (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). Additionally, beginning in 2011, the Department of Transportation is to im- plement a policy with a goal of devel- oping a balanced transportation system that takes into consideration all modes of transportation. POET helps students study alternative energy The history of alternative fuel is deeply rooted in the Midwest, and POET is helping to bring that history to light for about 5,000 South Dakota fourth graders, including students at Aberdeen, Big Stone City, Groton, Webster and more. Alternative energy lessons tackling subjects such as ethanol, wind and hydroelectricity as well as conserva- tion and other green practices have been added to the 2011 "South Dakota Road Trip," a 13-week virtual tour of South Dakota used in fourth grade classrooms to learn about the state's history. "As students learn about the histo- ry of this clean-burning, renewable fuel, they also can understand the eco- nomic impact it has on their local economy," POET Biorefining- Groton General Manager Kelly Kjelden said. "When these students someday become drivers, they will have a solid background on the benefits of ethanol." "South Dakota and entire Midwest has had a profound impact on our nation's energy supply, and that impact will grow many times over in the future," POET CEO Jeff Broin said. "I'm glad that POET can help students learn about that rich history and hope it will inspire some of them to get involved in this exciting field in the future." Through the lessons, which start in January, students travel across South Dakota learning about significant his- torical figures, events, industries and culture. Along the way, they'll stop at a farm, an ethanol plant and a race- track to learn about the different stages of ethanol production. Students will also stop at a windmill to learn about the evolution of wind energy and the Oahe Dam to leam about hydroelectric power, among other stops. There is also a health element in the program. The project was developed by Education Resource Center of South Dakota in partnership with Avera Health. Dakota State University pro- vided graphic design and program- ming. POET sponsored the alternative energy sections. AsArneric n Heart sociation WE'RE FIGHTING FOR YOUR LIFE ~ ~k ~/i~:~ ~ < ~:~:~;~#~; : %:ii~ i expires after 24 months Bicj Stone Cellular, Inc ven 4u~nz~d ~ Ortonville 320-839-3264 Sisseton 605-698-3849 Sunset Graphic's/Milbank 605-432-5091 "Out Surcharges (incl. Fed. Univ. Svc. of 12.9% of inlerelale & intl talecom charges varies qu~e~ 13 Regulatory & 83 Admini~aWe/line/mo & olhare by area) are no axes (details: 1-888-684-1888 ; govl taxes & eer ~teharges could add 5% -39% to your bl[( Act~vabee fee/tine: $35 MPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION: Subjecl Io Cusl. Agmt Calling Plan, tedate form & er~ri approve. Up to $350 eony termination fee & ad~t charges apply for exlra minutes, data sent#eceryed & ~ieviee capabllilJas Offers & coverage, vary- ing by svc, ~t available everywha~e; see', While supplies lasl. In CA: Sales tax based on full retai~ price of phone. Restocking fee may apl~y. Rebate debit card takes up to 6 wks & exp as n 12 rt'~n~s. 2010 Verizon Wireless. NATIONWIDE at all MoneyPass locations, i'Free to qualified applicants. $I00 minimum opening deposit. Member FDIC Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010 INDEPENDENT Page 7