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Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  
    Laws of Minnesota 1993 

                        CHAPTER 272-H.F.No. 584 
           An act relating to utilities; regulating telephone 
          services to communication-impaired persons; requiring 
          studies and reports; amending Minnesota Statutes 1992, 
          sections 237.49; 237.50, subdivisions 3, 4, 11, and by 
          adding subdivisions; 237.51, subdivisions 1, 2, 4, 5, 
          and 6; 237.52, subdivisions 2 and 5; 237.54; 237.55; 
          and 595.02, subdivision 1; Laws 1987, chapter 308, 
          section 8. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
     Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.49, is 
amended to read: 
    237.49 [COMBINED LOCAL ACCESS SURCHARGE.] 
    Each local telephone company shall collect from each 
subscriber an amount or amounts per telephone access line 
representing the total of the surcharges required under sections 
237.52, 237.70, and 403.11.  Amounts collected must be remitted 
to the department of administration in the manner prescribed in 
section 403.11.  The department of administration shall divide 
the amounts received proportional to the individual surcharges 
and deposit them in the appropriate accounts.  A company or the 
billing agent for a company shall list the surcharges as one 
amount on a billing statement sent to a subscriber. 
    Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.50, 
subdivision 3, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 3.  [COMMUNICATION IMPAIRED.] "Communication 
impaired" means certified as deaf, severely hearing impaired, 
hard of hearing hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or deaf and 
blind, or mobility impaired if the mobility impairment 
significantly impedes the ability to use standard customer 
premises equipment. 
    Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.50, 
subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 4.  [COMMUNICATION DEVICE.] "Communication device" 
means a device that when connected to a telephone enables a 
communication-impaired person to communicate with another person 
utilizing the telephone system.  A "communication device" 
includes a ring signaler, an amplification device, a telephone 
device for the deaf with any auxiliary equipment, a brailling 
device for use with a telephone, and any other device the board 
deems necessary, and a telebraille unit. 
    Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.50, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 4a.  [DEAF.] "Deaf" means a hearing impairment of 
such severity that the individual must depend primarily upon 
visual communication such as writing, lip reading, manual 
communication, and gestures. 
    Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.50, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 6a.  [HARD-OF-HEARING.] "Hard-of-hearing" means a 
hearing impairment resulting in a functional loss, but not to 
the extent that the individual must depend primarily upon visual 
communication. 
    Sec. 6.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.50, 
subdivision 11, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 11.  [MESSAGE TELECOMMUNICATION RELAY SERVICE.] 
"Message Telecommunication relay service" means a central 
statewide service through which a communication-impaired person, 
using a communication device, may send and receive messages to 
and from a non-communication-impaired person whose telephone is 
not equipped with a communication device and through which a 
non-communication-impaired person may, by using voice 
communication, send and receive messages to and from a 
communication-impaired person.  
    Sec. 7.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.51, 
subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  [CREATION.] The telecommunication access 
for communication-impaired persons board is established to 
establish and administer a program to distribute communication 
devices to eligible communication-impaired persons and to create 
and maintain a message telecommunication relay service.  
    Sec. 8.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.51, 
subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 2.  [MEMBERS.] The board consists of 12 persons to 
include: 
    (1) the commissioner of the department of human services or 
the commissioner's designee; 
    (2) the commissioner of the department of administration or 
the commissioner's designee; 
    (3) five (2) seven communication-impaired persons appointed 
by the governor at least three of whom reside outside a 
metropolitan county, as defined in section 473.121, subdivision 
4, at the time of appointment, at least four of whom are deaf, 
one of whom is speech impaired, one of whom is mobility 
impaired, and one of whom is hard-of-hearing; 
    (4) (3) one person appointed by the governor who is a 
professional in the area of communications disabilities; 
    (5) (4) one person appointed by the governor to represent 
the telephone company providing local exchange service to the 
largest number of persons; 
    (6) (5) one member of the Minnesota Telephone Association 
appointed by the governor to represent other affected telephone 
companies; and 
    (7) (6) one person appointed by the governor to represent 
companies providing inter-LATA interexchange telephone service; 
and 
    (8) one person to represent the organization operating the 
message relay service to be appointed by the governor at the 
time the board contracts with the organization pursuant to 
section 237.54 if the company with whom the person is employed 
does not have a contract to operate a telecommunication relay 
service under section 237.54 and agrees not to enter such a 
contract for at least one year after the person leaves the board.
    Sec. 9.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.51, 
subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 4.  [MEETINGS.] The board shall meet at least monthly 
until December 31, 1988, and at least quarterly thereafter 
annually. 
    Sec. 10.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.51, 
subdivision 5, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 5.  [DUTIES.] In addition to any duties specified 
elsewhere in sections 237.51 to 237.56, the board shall: 
    (1) define economic hardship, special needs, and household 
criteria so as to determine the priority of eligible applicants 
for initial distribution of devices and to determine 
circumstances necessitating provision of more than one 
communication device per household; 
    (2) establish a method to verify eligibility requirements; 
    (3) establish specifications for communication devices to 
be purchased under section 237.53, subdivision 3; 
    (4) enter contracts for the establishment and operation of 
the message telecommunication relay service pursuant to section 
237.54; 
    (5) inform the public and specifically the community of 
communication-impaired persons of the program; 
    (6) prepare the reports required by section 237.55; 
    (7) administer the fund created in section 237.52; 
    (8) reestablish and fill the position of program 
administrator whose position is in the unclassified service and 
establish and fill other positions in the classified service 
required to conduct the business of the board; 
    (9) adopt rules, including emergency rules, under chapter 
14 to implement the provisions of sections 237.50 to 237.56; and 
    (10) study the potential economic impact of the program on 
local communication device retailers and dispensers. 
notwithstanding any provision of chapter 16B, the board shall 
develop guidelines for the purchase of some communication 
devices from local retailers and dispensers if the study board 
determines that otherwise they will be economically harmed by 
implementation of sections 237.50 to 237.56. 
    Sec. 11.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.51, 
subdivision 6, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 6.  [ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT.] The commissioner of the 
department of administration shall provide staff assistance not 
including the program administrator and other board staff who is 
are to be chosen by the board, administrative services, and 
office space under a contract with the board.  The board shall 
reimburse the commissioner for services, staff, and space 
provided.  The board may request necessary information from the 
supervising officer of any state agency. 
    Sec. 12.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.52, 
subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 2.  [ASSESSMENT.] The board shall annually recommend 
to the commission an adequate and appropriate mechanism to 
implement sections 237.50 to 237.56.  The public utilities 
commission shall review the board's budget for reasonableness 
and may modify the budget to the extent it is unreasonable.  The 
commission shall annually determine the funding mechanism to be 
used within 60 days of receipt of the recommendation of the 
program administrator and shall order the imposition of 
surcharges effective on the earliest practicable date.  The 
commission shall establish a monthly charge no greater than ten 
20 cents for each customer access line, including trunk 
equivalents as designated by the commission pursuant to section 
403.11, subdivision 1. 
    Sec. 13.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.52, 
subdivision 5, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 5.  [EXPENDITURES.] Money in the fund may only be 
used for: 
    (1) expenses of the board, including personnel cost, public 
relations, board members' expenses, preparation of reports, and 
other reasonable expenses not to exceed 20 percent of total 
program expenditures; 
    (2) reimbursing the commissioner of human services for 
purchases made or services provided pursuant to section 237.53; 
    (3) reimbursing telephone companies for purchases made or 
services provided under section 237.53, subdivision 5; and 
    (4) contracting for establishment and operation of the 
message telecommunication relay service required by section 
237.54. 
    All costs directly associated with the establishment of the 
board and program, the purchase and distribution of 
communication devices, and the establishment and operation of 
the message telecommunication relay service are either 
reimbursable or directly payable from the fund after 
authorization by the board.  Notwithstanding section 16A.41, the 
board may advance money to the contractor of the message 
telecommunication relay service if the contractor establishes to 
the board's satisfaction that the advance payment is necessary 
for the operation of the service.  The advance payment may be 
used only for working capital reserve for the operation of the 
service.  The advance payment must be offset or repaid by the 
end of the contract fiscal year together with interest accrued 
from the date of payment.  
    Sec. 14.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.54, is 
amended to read: 
    237.54 [MESSAGE TELECOMMUNICATION RELAY SERVICE.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [ESTABLISHMENT.] The board shall contract 
with an inter-LATA interexchange telephone service provider to 
establish a third-party message telecommunication relay service 
with an "800" number to enable telecommunication between 
communication-impaired persons and non-communication-impaired 
persons. 
    Subd. 2.  [OPERATION.] The board shall contract with a 
local consumer organization that serves communication-impaired 
persons for operation of the message telecommunication relay 
system.  The 
board may contract with other than a local consumer organization 
if the board finds by at least a two-thirds majority vote that 
no local consumer organization is available to enter into or 
perform a reasonable contract to operate a telecommunications 
relay system.  The operator of the system shall keep all 
messages confidential, shall train personnel in the unique needs 
of communication-impaired people, and shall inform 
communication-impaired persons and the public of the 
availability and use of the system.  The operator shall not 
relay a message unless it originates or terminates through a 
communication device for the deaf or a telebraille device 
brailling device for use with a telephone. 
    Sec. 15.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 237.55, is 
amended to read: 
    237.55 [REPORTS; PLANS.] 
    The board shall prepare a report for presentation to the 
commission not later than December 31, 1987, to include plans 
for distributing communication devices and establishing a 
third-party message relay service and a recommendation for a 
funding mechanism pursuant to section 237.52, subdivision 2.  
The provision of service required under sections 237.50 to 
237.56 may begin when the plan is approved by the commission or 
March 1, 1988, whichever is earlier.  
    Beginning in 1988, The board must prepare a report for 
presentation to the commission by December January 31 of each 
year through the year 1992.  Each report must review the 
accessibility of the telephone system to communication-impaired 
persons, review the ability of non-communication-impaired 
persons to communicate with communication-impaired persons via 
the telephone system, describe services provided, account for 
money received and disbursed annually for each aspect of the 
program to date, and include predicted future operation until 
the final report.  
    The final report must, in detail, describe program 
operation and make recommendations for the funding and service 
level for necessary ongoing services.  The commission may 
recommend changes in the program to the legislature throughout 
its operation and shall make a recommendation to the legislature 
by February 1, 1993, for the future provision and maintenance of 
the services. 
     Sec. 16.  Minnesota Statutes 1992, section 595.02, 
subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  [COMPETENCY OF WITNESSES.] Every person of 
sufficient understanding, including a party, may testify in any 
action or proceeding, civil or criminal, in court or before any 
person who has authority to receive evidence, except as provided 
in this subdivision: 
    (a) A husband cannot be examined for or against his wife 
without her consent, nor a wife for or against her husband 
without his consent, nor can either, during the marriage or 
afterwards, without the consent of the other, be examined as to 
any communication made by one to the other during the marriage. 
This exception does not apply to a civil action or proceeding by 
one against the other, nor to a criminal action or proceeding 
for a crime committed by one against the other or against a 
child of either or against a child under the care of either 
spouse, nor to a criminal action or proceeding in which one is 
charged with homicide or an attempt to commit homicide and the 
date of the marriage of the defendant is subsequent to the date 
of the offense, nor to an action or proceeding for nonsupport, 
neglect, dependency, or termination of parental rights.  
     (b) An attorney cannot, without the consent of the 
attorney's client, be examined as to any communication made by 
the client to the attorney or the attorney's advice given 
thereon in the course of professional duty; nor can any employee 
of the attorney be examined as to the communication or advice, 
without the client's consent.  
     (c) A member of the clergy or other minister of any 
religion shall not, without the consent of the party making the 
confession, be allowed to disclose a confession made to the 
member of the clergy or other minister in a professional 
character, in the course of discipline enjoined by the rules or 
practice of the religious body to which the member of the clergy 
or other minister belongs; nor shall a member of the clergy or 
other minister of any religion be examined as to any 
communication made to the member of the clergy or other minister 
by any person seeking religious or spiritual advice, aid, or 
comfort or advice given thereon in the course of the member of 
the clergy's or other minister's professional character, without 
the consent of the person.  
     (d) A licensed physician or surgeon, dentist, or 
chiropractor shall not, without the consent of the patient, be 
allowed to disclose any information or any opinion based thereon 
which the professional acquired in attending the patient in a 
professional capacity, and which was necessary to enable the 
professional to act in that capacity; after the decease of the 
patient, in an action to recover insurance benefits, where the 
insurance has been in existence two years or more, the 
beneficiaries shall be deemed to be the personal representatives 
of the deceased person for the purpose of waiving this 
privilege, and no oral or written waiver of the privilege shall 
have any binding force or effect except when made upon the trial 
or examination where the evidence is offered or received.  
     (e) A public officer shall not be allowed to disclose 
communications made to the officer in official confidence when 
the public interest would suffer by the disclosure.  
     (f) Persons of unsound mind and persons intoxicated at the 
time of their production for examination are not competent 
witnesses if they lack capacity to remember or to relate 
truthfully facts respecting which they are examined. 
     (g) A registered nurse, psychologist or consulting 
psychologist shall not, without the consent of the 
professional's client, be allowed to disclose any information or 
opinion based thereon which the professional has acquired in 
attending the client in a professional capacity, and which was 
necessary to enable the professional to act in that capacity. 
     (h) An interpreter for a person handicapped in 
communication shall not, without the consent of the person, be 
allowed to disclose any communication if the communication 
would, if the interpreter were not present, be privileged.  For 
purposes of this section, a "person handicapped in 
communication" means a person who, because of a hearing, speech 
or other communication disorder, or because of the inability to 
speak or comprehend the English language, is unable to 
understand the proceedings in which the person is required to 
participate.  The presence of an interpreter as an aid to 
communication does not destroy an otherwise existing privilege. 
     (i) Licensed chemical dependency counselors shall not 
disclose information or an opinion based on the information 
which they acquire from persons consulting them in their 
professional capacities, and which was necessary to enable them 
to act in that capacity, except that they may do so:  
     (1) when informed consent has been obtained in writing, 
except in those circumstances in which not to do so would 
violate the law or would result in clear and imminent danger to 
the client or others; 
     (2) when the communications reveal the contemplation or 
ongoing commission of a crime; or 
     (3) when the consulting person waives the privilege by 
bringing suit or filing charges against the licensed 
professional whom that person consulted.  
     (j) A parent or the parent's minor child may not be 
examined as to any communication made in confidence by the minor 
to the minor's parent.  A communication is confidential if made 
out of the presence of persons not members of the child's 
immediate family living in the same household.  This exception 
may be waived by express consent to disclosure by a parent 
entitled to claim the privilege or by the child who made the 
communication or by failure of the child or parent to object 
when the contents of a communication are demanded.  This 
exception does not apply to a civil action or proceeding by one 
spouse against the other or by a parent or child against the 
other, nor to a proceeding to commit either the child or parent 
to whom the communication was made or to place the person or 
property or either under the control of another because of an 
alleged mental or physical condition, nor to a criminal action 
or proceeding in which the parent is charged with a crime 
committed against the person or property of the communicating 
child, the parent's spouse, or a child of either the parent or 
the parent's spouse, or in which a child is charged with a crime 
or act of delinquency committed against the person or property 
of a parent or a child of a parent, nor to an action or 
proceeding for termination of parental rights, nor any other 
action or proceeding on a petition alleging child abuse, child 
neglect, abandonment or nonsupport by a parent.  
     (k) Sexual assault counselors may not be compelled to 
testify about any opinion or information received from or about 
the victim without the consent of the victim.  However, a 
counselor may be compelled to identify or disclose information 
in investigations or proceedings related to neglect or 
termination of parental rights if the court determines good 
cause exists.  In determining whether to compel disclosure, the 
court shall weigh the public interest and need for disclosure 
against the effect on the victim, the treatment relationship, 
and the treatment services if disclosure occurs.  Nothing in 
this clause exempts sexual assault counselors from compliance 
with the provisions of sections 626.556 and 626.557.  
     "Sexual assault counselor" for the purpose of this section 
means a person who has undergone at least 40 hours of crisis 
counseling training and works under the direction of a 
supervisor in a crisis center, whose primary purpose is to 
render advice, counseling, or assistance to victims of sexual 
assault.  
    (l) A person cannot be examined as to any communication or 
document, including worknotes, made or used in the course of or 
because of mediation pursuant to an agreement to mediate.  This 
does not apply to the parties in the dispute in an application 
to a court by a party to have a mediated settlement agreement 
set aside or reformed.  A communication or document otherwise 
not privileged does not become privileged because of this 
paragraph.  This paragraph is not intended to limit the 
privilege accorded to communication during mediation by the 
common law. 
    (m) A child under ten years of age is a competent witness 
unless the court finds that the child lacks the capacity to 
remember or to relate truthfully facts respecting which the 
child is examined.  A child describing any act or event may use 
language appropriate for a child of that age. 
    (n) A communication assistant for a telecommunications 
relay system for communication-impaired persons shall not, 
without the consent of the person making the communication, be 
allowed to disclose communications made to the communication 
assistant for the purpose of relaying. 
    Sec. 17.  Laws 1987, chapter 308, section 8, is amended to 
read: 
    Sec. 8.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Sections 1 to 7 are effective July 1, 1987, and are 
repealed effective June 30, 1993. 
    Sec. 18.  [REPORT BY TACIP BOARD.] 
    The telecommunication access for communication-impaired 
persons board shall report to the legislature by February 1, 
1994, on the reasonableness of charging for toll calls made 
through the telecommunication relay service.  The report shall 
include the economic and policy factors considered by the board. 
    Sec. 19.  [PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION TRANSITIONAL 
AUTHORITY.] 
    The public utilities commission is authorized to do all 
things necessary to ensure that a surcharge increase authorized 
by section 11 is implemented by July 1, 1993. 
    Sec. 20.  [TELEPHONE SERVICE FOR THE BLIND.] 
    The department of public service shall study the 
feasibility of providing free directory and operator services to 
blind individuals.  The study shall analyze the cost to rate 
payers if the cost of the free services is included as part of 
the rate for local service by a telephone company. 
    Sec. 21.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Sections 2 to 7, 9 to 13, 15, and 18 are effective July 1, 
1993.  Sections 8, 14, 17, and 19 are effective the day 
following final enactment. 
    Presented to the governor May 15, 1993 
    Signed by the governor May 19, 1993, 10:30 a.m.