The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 13, 2014

Minn. lawmakers give taste of 2014 session bills

(Continued)

But opposition will be strong from a collection of liquor store owners who doubt it would enhance profits and a union for delivery professionals who don't want to give up a built-in day off.

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CELLPHONES

There are bills attempt to regulate when a cellphone can be used and what happens if a smartphone goes missing.

Under one proposal, it would be illegal to use a phone while driving through a construction work zone, even if the phone has a hands-free attachment.

A separate plan would require smartphones sold in the state to come with a "kill switch." The technology makes it easier for people to remotely disable phones that are lost or stolen. The rationale is that such a feature would cut down on device theft, but some argue it would make phones more expensive or harder to get in Minnesota.

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MNSURE

Some lawmakers are seizing on woes with MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance exchange, by pressing for change.

One bill would require insurance premium rates for 2015 to be published no later than Sept. 1, well ahead of the next open enrollment period. The premiums are likely to be a flashpoint in the November election, so the timing of the rate information could get caught up in campaign-year politics.

Another bill would prohibit MNsure employees or contractors from having access to personal data if they have criminal fraud or theft convictions in their past.

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LOTTERY SALES

Minnesota's $500 million-a-year lottery could encounter new restrictions.

Players could soon be able to purchase popular scratch-off tickets via the Internet, and Powerball and Mega Millions tickets could be broadly available at gas pumps and ATMs. But one bill would stop the expansion of electronic ticket sales from going forward.

A bill pending from last year would require buyers to purchase tickets inside a store.

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