Same-sex marriage may have stolen all of the headlines when dozens of new laws took effect August 1. But one law change may deserve as much celebration by Minnesotans with disabilities.
The 2013 Minnesota Legislature reviewed numerous statutes and removed antiquated and offensive language including the word “retarded.” The R word has been replaced with modern references, including “person with developmental disabilities.” Although offensive language hadn’t been used in laws for many years there were still many updates needed.
The law making the changes was sponsored by Rep. Zachary Dorholdt, DFL-St. Cloud, and Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center. The law also makes changes in information sharing with the state and the Remembering With Dignity Project. This ongoing project replaces serial number grave markers with name markers.
Most of the 144 laws approved by legislators and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton took effect August 1. The laws cover everything from the mining industry to foster families. Arsonists face stiffer penalties, as do people who make prank 911 calls.
One change affects Minnesota military veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability. They can apply for a free permanent card that allows them to receive a free small game and eithersex deer hunting license each year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced the change.
“Our veterans have made great sacrifices to secure our freedoms, which in Minnesota include the freedom to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Dayton. “Through their service to our state and country, disabled veterans have more than earned the right to hunt in Minnesota free of charge.”
“We appreciate the sacrifices made by our disabled veterans, and this is one small thing the DNR can do to make it easier for them to enjoy the outdoors,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. Disabled veterans will no longer have to bring their paperwork to the license agent every year, but will only have to apply one time and receive a permanent card.
The DNR has mailed letters and applications to 2,294 disabled veterans who have previously obtained a free small game or either-sex deer license. Other Minnesota resident military veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability, as defined by the U.S. Veterans Administration, may obtain an application online at www.mndnr.gov/military or call toll-free at 877-348-0498.
Curious about other new laws? Have some time to read? Link to them at http://tinyurl.com/nx57gsp
And as for the bills that didn’t get passed in 2013, there’s always next year. The 2014 Minnesota Legislature convenes Tuesday, February 25, 2014.