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2000 State Legislative Report - Minnesota

Submitted by Jack R. Zachow

This report summarizes 2000 Minnesota legislation affecting title insurance business requirements or operations in Minnesota. Mr. Chuck Hoyum, MLTA Legislative Committee Chair, and Mr. Mike Flanagan, MLTA Lobbyist, contributed to this report.

Chapter references are followed by a Senate or House bill number, the full text of which may be viewed at the State’s legislative website at www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legis.html .

I CIVIL ACTIONS
II ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
III. ESCROWS
IV. INSURANCE / BUSINESS ISSUES
Forms/Rates Regulation/Fees/Commission Splits
Chapter 394 (SF 2655). Department of Revenue insurance tax law recodification act. Of relevance to the title industry is Article 1, Section 1, Subd. 9 (new Section 297I.01) which defines "gross premiums" for the first time for purposes of payment of premium taxes. The following specific language for title insurance companies was accepted by the Department after several productive meetings with MLTA and other title industry representatives:

"…For title insurance companies, "gross premiums" means the charge for title insurance made by a title insurance company or its agents according to the company’s rate filing approved by the commissioner of commerce without a deduction for commissions paid to or retained by the agent. Gross premiums of a title insurance company does not include any other charge or fee for abstracting, searching, or examining the title, or escrow, closing, or other related services".

Effective January 1, 2001.

NAIC
Chapter 350 (SF 3203). This Department of Commerce act conforms state law to the NAIC model legislation providing uniform accounting principles. Sections 11 through 14 essentially rewrite most of the Title Insurance Companies Act, Chapter 68A. Effective August 1, 2000.

Electronic Transactions
Chapter 371 (HF 3109) enacts the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (new Chapter 325L), with a few exemptions unique to Minnesota (see Sections 3(b)(2) and (e)), relating to conveyances, powers of attorney and statutory short form powers of attorney and other instruments affecting real estate, and execution of wills and trusts (other than business, commercial or governmental trusts). Effective August 1, 2000.

V. STATUTORY LIENS
Mechanics’ Liens
Chapter 430 (HF 2563). Modifies mechanics’ lien act penalties to create a civil cause of action for theft or other misuse of proceeds and to impose criminal penalties on principals of residential building contractors or remodelers for failing to pay for labor and materials. As introduced, title officers who were disbursing proceeds could have been subjected to the new penalties, however, MLTA was instrumental in the Act being passed in its current form. Effective August 1, 2000.

Judgment Liens
Chapter 320 (SF 2510) amends the judgment execution laws so that junior creditors’ redemption rights will be the same as those under the mortgage foreclosure laws. Effective as to redemptions where the owner’s period of redemption has not expired before August 1, 2000.

Chapter 400 (SF 1896) extends the duration of medical assistance liens from three to ten years, and permits renewal for an additional ten years. MLTA was instrumental in limiting the renewal period to ten years rather than the 20 or 30 years sought by the Department of Human Services. Effective August 1, 2000.

VI. TAXES
VII. PUBLIC ENTITIES
VIII. REAL PROPERTY INTERESTS
IX. DEEDS AND SECURITY INTERESTS
Reconveyances/Releases
Chapter 450 (HF 3047) amends Section 507.401, the title insurance company mortgage release certificate statute, to increase the upper threshold of title companies’ authority to issue releases to $1,500,000 from $500,000, and to authorize partial releases, and to provide for releases of assignments of rents and profits given as additional security for debts secured by mortgages. Effective August 1, 2000, except as to any mortgages, the rights to which have been fully adjudicated or which are the subject of pending litigation on that date.

X. RECORDING
Recording Requirements
Chapter 320, Section 1 (SF 2510) prohibits local units of government from enacting or enforcing any septic system ordinance or rule if its effect would include preventing or delaying recording of any deed or other instrument. Effective August 1, 2000.

Automation
Chapter 391 (SF 3346) requires the Secretary of State to establish a task force (to include a representative from the title industry) to study and make recommendations on electronic filing of real estate documents. The initial report is due by January 15, 2001.



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