- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The New Year brings new laws to Minnesota’s books - consider them holiday tidings from all 201 state legislators.

While finishing up a new budget was at the top of the Legislature’s wish list in 2015, lawmakers also tackled issues ranging from law enforcement surveillance to encouraging residents to save more money through new raffles.

Most new laws took effect over the summer, but here’s a look at what’s new on Jan. 1.

INSURANCE

In an effort to cut down on the number of uninsured drivers, the state will start requiring proof of insurance when Minnesota residents register a car or motorcycle or renew tabs starting on Jan. 1. It was previously just a question on state forms.

WINVESTING

Put money in your savings account, get a chance to win more cash?

A new law authorizing those raffles to promote socking away money took effect earlier this year, but banks needed time to set it up. More than a dozen Minnesota credit unions are launching their program with the New Year called “Wincentive Savings.”

It works like this: For every $25 deposited into the new accounts, a credit union member gets an entry for a cash drawing. Prizes range from $100 in monthly drawings to the $5,000 grand prize drawn once a year.

FIREFIGHTERS

Until 2016, the families of volunteer firefighters killed on duty were treated differently than their full-time counterparts - no health benefits after the death.

That will change with a new law, which extends health benefits to the families of volunteer fighters killed on duty. It’s a big issue in Minnesota, where the vast majority of active firefighters are on call or volunteers, not full-time, paid staff.

LICENSE PLATE READERS

After years of struggling to pass guidelines for license plate readers, lawmakers finalized regulations for the surveillance devices in 2015.

And while those devices are already in use across Minnesota, the Legislature set a catch: Police departments and agencies that want to use the technology need to lay out their own policies for maintaining the license plate scans and punishing officers who improperly access them by Jan. 15, 2016. If they don’t, the department can’t use the scanners.

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