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Several new laws are now in effect

While a budget didn't get passed, plenty of other things did during the 2011 Legislative Session. Here is a list of several of the laws that went into effect July 1, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives information services.

• Synthetic marijuana has been banned. It is a gross misdemeanor to sell synthetic marijuana or to possess it. The drug has a number of names including K2 or Spice.

• A new law requires repeat DWI offender and first time offenders whose alcohol concentration is at least double the legal limit to use an ignition interlock device to drive in Minnesota. The device, which is installed in the vehicle at the offender's expense, prevents a vehicle from being started if the driver's breath exceeds a .02 blood-alcohol content limit.

The law includes a provision that makes it a misdemeanor for anyone who knowingly lets a person requiring ignition interlock to operate a vehicle with the device.

• A new state trail pass will be required for non-residents who want to ride off-road vehicles on state trails. The annual $20 pass must be visible while riding. Three-year passes will be available for $30. Fees collected will go toward trail maintenance costs.

• The education commissioner must develop and maintain a list of school bus safety training instruction materials. This is part of a new law that will make it easier for students who attend area learning centers and those requiring lift buses on field trips to get to school or participate in activities.

• More than $13.7 million in expected final ethanol producer payments will be distributed over the next year, ending a 1980s program that provided incentives for farmers to grow corn for biofuel, according to a new law.

The new law also authorizes funding for research and innovation for switching from corn to cellulosic materials, such as perennial plants, in order to produce bioenergy.

The omnibus agriculture and rural development finance law is the only major appropriation bill to receive the governor's approval during the regular session.

The new law will allocate nearly $79 million during the next two years to fund the Department of Agriculture, the Board of Animal Health and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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