The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act determines what state agencies must do with the enormous mountains of data they collect. Most data is public (PDF overview), unless a statute or rule makes certain data private.
Many agencies provide email-based notifications, like snow emergency alerts or city council meetings, It turns out there is no statute or rule making those email addresses private, even though most of the websites where those email addresses are collected claim they will be kept confidential.
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Guest post by Aaron Hall.
Minnesota consumers can now bring more cases to conciliation court, and many see this as good news. Unlike regular district court, conciliation court was created to handle “small claims” with relaxed rules and procedures so people don’t need to hire an attorney.
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Today, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a package of tort-reform bills passed by the state legislature earlier this week. I was particularly happy to see his reasons for vetoing SF 429, which would have rendered many consumer and civil rights statutes effectively unenforceable in Minnesota. Here’s a choice excerpt from Governor Dayton’s veto letter for that bill:
Over 300 Minnesota statutes require the shifting of attorney fees to the wrongdoer—all of which would be negatively impacted by this legislation. Deployed military personnel, farmers, vulnerable adults, and victims of workplace harassment, wrongful termination, and discrimination are just a few of the classes of individuals that would be harmed by this legislation.
Read all of Governor Dayton’s tort reform veto letters.
Across the country, legislators (mostly Republicans) are pushing for so-called “voter ID” laws that would require every voter to present a photo ID before casting his or her vote. This requirement is ostensibly meant to reduce voting fraud. In fact, it would do no such thing.
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I’ve been following the progress of several Minnesota “tort reform” measures. I put that in quotation marks because most of the bills in question don’t just reform the law of tort; they also eviscerate a raft of consumer laws, robbing consumers of important protections. These are laws designed to prevent fraud, harassment, and abuse. If enforced, these laws could help prevent another economic meltdown. These bills could hasten the next recession by shielding defendants from the law and encouraging the sort of behavior that led to the last one.
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Tomorrow, the Minnesota House of Representatives will consider two “tort reform” bills that would eviscerate Minnesota’s consumer protection statutes and set up road blocks to discourage class actions. The first bill is former Senator Linda Scheid’s stupid, anti-consumer bill, sponsored in the House by representatives Pat Mazorol (R), Denise Dittrich (D), Bev Scalze (D), Keith Downey (R), and Sandra Peterson (D). The bill will effectively remove attorney fees from consumer protection statutes—i.e., the main reason why consumer lawyers are able to take such cases in the first place.
The second grants defendants an interlocutory appeal from any class certification decision. This would add approximately two years to every class action, giving defendants a powerful new way to delay the proceedings and lose more paperwork.
If you are in Minnesota, please call your representative and ask him or her to oppose these bills.
According to the City Pages, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken aren’t quite giving up on the Protect IP Act in the wake of Wednesday’s internet-wide protest. Instead, they say they are interested in a “compromise” that will preserve the bill.
Aaron Rupar from the City Pages calls bullshit, and so do I. Even Michele Bachmann is on the right side of this issue, while Klobuchar and Franken remain anti-internet. Then again, this isn’t Klobuchar’s first piece of anti-internet legislation.
(Representative Keith Ellison, on the other hand, actually joined in the blackout.)
Homeowner Nancy Gosselin hasn’t missed a payment since she refinanced her house with Bremer Bank in 2005. Bremer agrees. But CitiMortgage, which wound up purchasing the loan, started assessing late fees more than two years ago, refused to accept Gosselin’s mortgage payments, and then started foreclosure proceedings last spring to collect those late fees and charges Gosselin apparently didn’t owe. In short, CitiMortgage tried to take Gosselin’s home over $700.
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From Consumer Law & Policy Blog, my latest post, An Open Letter to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar Regarding SB 978. Here’s a taste:
Dear Ms. Klobuchar:
I’m writing to object to SB 978, a bill you are sponsoring that would make it a felony for people to post covers of copyrighted material to sites like YouTube and Facebook.
This bill is targeted at children. It is calculated to stifle creativity and prevent the emergence of new talent. You may not have intended these results, but if your bill becomes law it will turn kids (and many adults) into criminals while doing little to protect copyright holders.
Read An Open Letter to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar Regarding SB 978 on Consumer Law & Policy Blog.