Monday, July 19, 2010

Two new laws will go into effect/ impact higher education

Colleges and universities will be able to notify parents in cases where a student has a mental health emergency.

Federal and state law allows higher education institutions to disclose what would otherwise be private data when a student has a “safety emergency” that warrants contacting their parents. A new law will clarify that mental health emergencies, such as suicide attempts or psychotic episodes, qualify under the law.

Rep. Andy Welti (DFL-Plainview), who sponsors the law with Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes (DFL-Winona), said the National Alliance on Mental Illness brought the proposal forward. He said if a student is injured in a car accident or receives a physical injury, colleges and universities can notify parents; however, some parents are concerned that mental health emergencies do not meet the current threshold.

The law does not involve disclosure of medical records — only the right to disclose that an emergency has taken place.


Broadband for everyone

Minnesota intends to provide every resident the ability to access high-speed broadband Internet service by 2015.

A new law makes high-speed broadband Internet for every home and business an official state goal. In addition, it calls for a boost in broadband speeds: 10 to 20 megabits per second for downloads and five to 10 megabits per second for uploads.

Sponsored by Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), the law also specifies three other goals for Minnesota’s broadband access. It states that Minnesota should be in:

• “the top five states of the United States for broadband speed universally accessible to residents and businesses”;

• “the top five states for broadband access”; and

• “the top 15 when compared to countries globally for broadband penetration.”

The law stems from the work of the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force, which spent two years researching a strategy for deploying broadband Internet service throughout the state.

Also included in the law is a provision requiring the Department of Commerce to report annually to the Legislature on progress made toward meeting the state’s broadband goals.


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