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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

New MN laws cover renters, extreme-risk protections involving gun owners

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Tuesday, January 2, 2024   

With 2024 now underway, a flurry of new Minnesota laws are in effect.

Renters facing obstacles with their landlords have new protections, and there is now a policy that addresses gun possession for those considered a risk to themselves or others.

Among the new housing laws is a requirement that landlords fully disclose non-optional fees in a lease agreement so that applicants have a full scope of what their rental costs look like.

Rachel Sterling is a housing attorney and the communications coordinator with the Minnesota nonprofit HOME Line. She said unexpected fees have become a problem in the rental market in recent years.

"A classic example is there was a landlord here that used to charge what's called a January fee," said Sterling, "an extra $100 just because it was January."

There are also tighter restrictions for landlord entry into a rental property.

Sterling said owners have the flexibility to set costs for expenses, but adds making certain language clear can potentially help tenants avoid eviction.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has added what's known as a "Red Flag" law, where certain individuals or agencies can seek a court petition for law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from a person exhibiting concerning behavior.

Maggiy Emery, executive director of the group Protect Minnesota, said the broader goal for these Extreme Risk Protection Orders is to help reduce gun violence.

But she said the law change gets to the core of a concerning issue around the state.

"The vast majority of our gun deaths here are firearm suicides," said Emery, "and ERPOS - Extreme Risk Protection Orders - have been shown to be very effective in reducing firearm suicides."

Johns Hopkins University gathered findings looking at the effectiveness of Red Flag laws. For example, Connecticut's extreme risk law was associated with a 13% reduction in firearm suicides.

Emery said as Minnesota implements its law, there's considerable outreach in under-resourced communities - including rural areas, to create more awareness and training about this new tool for law enforcement.

Gun-owner advocates have expressed concern about a person not being able to challenge an order.




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