About 219,000 Minnesotans earning minimum wage will see a slight boost in their paychecks as the new year begins, one of the state regulations and laws taking effect at the start of 2019.
New laws will affect a range of Minnesotans: potential identity theft victims, firefighters with post-traumatic stress disorder, residents of cities that are changing how trash is collected and others.
Outside Minneapolis, which sets its own higher minimum wage, the statewide increase is meant to adjust for inflation and will have a modest but broad effect across the state.
Large employers — who have an annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more — must start paying workers $9.86 on hour, 21 cents more than they offer now. Employers whose revenue is less than that must pay an $8.04 minimum, a 17-cent increase.
The minimum wage will also be $8.04 for people younger than 18, as well as those younger than 20 during their initial 90 days of employment.
Protecting kids’ identities
Minnesota is joining more than 30 other states in allowing families to freeze their children’s credit reports, giving them a new tool to prevent identity theft. When someone steals a child’s identity, it’s often not discovered for years — until they prepare to take out a student loan or apply for their first credit card.
“It really was a situation where it’s becoming more and more prevalent for minor children to become victims of identity theft,” said Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, who has been advocating for the credit report freeze law for several years.
The issue landed on Petersburg’s agenda when a father in his legislative district moved to Minnesota and discovered he wasn’t able to ask consumer reporting agencies to freeze his children’s credit reports. A freeze restricts access and makes it challenging for a thief to set up credit accounts under someone else’s name.
More than 1 million children were identity fraud victims in 2017, and their losses totaled $2.6 billion, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research, a research-based advisory firm.
The new law enables someone who can prove they are acting on behalf a person younger than 16 to request a freeze. Starting Jan. 1, the credit reporting agencies will no longer be allowed to charge a fee when someone requests a freeze, asks to temporarily lift a freeze or remove the freeze. The fee removal applies to all Minnesotans, not just those under 16.
Treating occupational PTSD
Starting Jan. 1, when employees in certain public safety, medical and corrections jobs are diagnosed with PTSD, it will be presumed to be job-related if there was no previous diagnosis.
The new law covers firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police and corrections officers. Lawmakers who worked on the bill said there are people in those professions who have struggled to get an employer to cover their treatment through workers’ compensation.
Many who work in those fields have a military background. They might have PTSD from their service, but the symptoms could be latent and then are triggered by a traumatic incident, like a fire or car crash they are responding to at work, said Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, who was a chief author of the bill.
More work is needed to make sure people are reaching out and getting the help they need and insurers are processing claims in a timely manner, said Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, who was also a chief author of the measure. There is a “macho” mind-set in some departments where people don’t debrief and work through the trauma they encounter on the job, he noted.
“If it’s treated early and treated correctly, it probably isn’t a major cost anyhow,” Utke said.
Trash collection options
Over the past decade a number of cities have shifted to an organized system for collecting trash. The change has sometimes been met with substantial public opposition, most recently in St. Paul.
Before a city can make that change, state law already requires it to form a committee to study trash collection options.
A new change to the law spells out some more factors for committees to evaluate, including how changes would affect residents’ ability to choose a hauler based on the kind of service they want and the cost.