Hoorah! The new laws are in force. Aug. 1 was the day a slew of rules was slathered on the state. You may ask:
However did we survive prior to the introduction of statute 35Ab, which amends the Outdoor Entertainment Code to include guidelines for the payment of royalties when a citizen whistles a copyrighted tune on public grounds? OK, I made that up. And probably guaranteed its introduction next year. Sorry.
Did they release a list of outdated laws they'd killed? Doesn't seem so. Archaic statutes clog the books: It shall be illegal for a bearded man to handle twine in public an unseemly manner. Dutch people shall be permitted to spell "margarine" with a J, in a leap year.
Can't repeal them; might come in handy. You never know when you'll have a guy who's obviously a criminal, but you can't prove anything but rude twine-manipulation. If the Founding Fathers had known how many laws we'd keep piling on top of the old ones, they would have set a limit: you get to have 2,000 laws, tops. Figure it out. You might find you can live without a few.
Some highlights follow.
Crime: "A criminal gang that continuously or regularly engages in gang activity is considered a public nuisance, and a prosecutor can seek, and a court can enter, an order enjoining a person from engaging in gang activity."
Oh, that'll do it. You there, Al Capone! Stop that. And isn't it an understatement to call gang activity a public nuisance? Birds outside your window at daybreak when you want to sleep is a nuisance. Birds shooting each other or selling illegal seed is something else.
Business: "Anyone who thinks they have been coerced into purchasing a home improvement product or service from a door-to-door sales agent will have three days to cancel or request a return of payment or goods without penalty."
I would have preferred that A) the state legalize "Hyper-closers," which are pneumatic door-closing units that can shut a door in half a second, and B) prohibit any door-to-door salesman from suing if he gets his foot removed by the aforementioned unit. Barring that, perhaps a statute that required door-to-door salesmen to take 72 hours of instruction, so we can determine exactly which part of "no" they do not understand.
Bills in limbo: A bill that would let you contribute money to pay the state's deficit. The description notes that such acts of altruistic revenue-enhancement are rare -- go figure -- and added this fact, which is about as Minnesota as things get:
"In 2010, the state received $12,087.29 from the Minnesota Historical Society as the balance from unspent donations made to the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission."
There are new arrivals from Chicago who will double over in laughter after they stop staring with disbelief. Wait a minute. Hold on. They didn't spend it all? Then they gave it back? What sort of rubes do you have on the payroll here?
Nature: There was an Environmental Omnibus Law -- Latin for "Just bulging with little tiny wriggling laws, like minnows in a bait shop tank" -- and it reduced "some penalties for damaging or defacing state parks and related areas from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor."
Which is one step above a frowny face and a timeout in the corner. So let's say a crew of exuberant youths smother graffiti all over a picnic table. The horrible shame of a misdemeanor conviction is too harsh, I guess. Knowing it's a petty misdemeanor should be sufficient to alert that calm, still voice of conscience and persuade them to stay their hand. How about: Anyone who spray-paints his name on a park privy wall shall be enjoined to remove it, with his teeth.
Prison: There's this thing called the Challenge Incarceration Program, which puts prisoners through intensive basic-training style routines to instill civic virtues, military bearing, go through chemical dependency training and so on. There's a supervised stay in a community for six months, and highly supervised community release for another six. It's been going on since the early 1990s. New change in the law: You're ineligible if you murdered someone.
Also excludes robbers, sexual offenders, people convicted of assault and arsonists. Which makes you wonder: Who's left?
Ethics: The website says, "There are no new laws for this topic."
Apparently they don't need more laws governing themselves. I mean, laws are great, but let's not go overboard.