The Good the Bad and the Strange

There are many new state laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2012. Altogether, there are about 40,000 of them according to the National Council of Legislators that will change the lives of residents in a variety of ways. Here are some of the ones that will have the most impact for better or worse.

Quite a few laws that will affect drivers. In New Jersey, the tolls are going up on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Turnpike. In California, children under the age of 8 years old must be in a booster seat. The exception to this rule is a child who is taller than 4’9” even if they are younger than 8 years old. In December The National Transportation Safety Board called for a complete ban on texting while driving. Three states are instituting laws as of January 1, 2012 that bans texting while driving in their state; they are Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon.

Connecticut will be the first state in the union to require employers with more than 50 employees to provide paid sick pay to employees. The new laws provides for one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work.

In New Hampshire, girls under the age of 18 will need to talk to their parents or to a judge before they are able to get an abortion. In Arkansas, any clinic that performs more than 10 non-surgical abortions a month will need to be licensed by the state and will be open to inspection.

Four states will require voters to present a picture ID as of January 1, 2012. They are Rhode Island, Kansas, Tennessee and Texas. Several states are requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify program to make sure that the people they hire are legal to work in this country. The states are Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.

Same sex couples will be able to have a civil union in the states of Delaware and Hawaii and they will have the same rights and benefits that are usually reserved for married couples under the law.

In Florida, state unemployment compensation on new claims will be cut from 26 weeks to 23 weeks and in a state with a very high unemployment rate this is going to adversely affect many residents. Those who are collecting benefits will also be required to contact at least 5 employers per week to continue to receive these benefits.

In Utah, there will be a ban on daily drink specials which will quite effectively kill happy hour in the state and in California; caffeine is not allowed to be added to beer.

In Texas, students who are entering college are required to be immunized against meningitis. In Florida, the state is taking over school lunches and there will be a push to serve more local grown, Florida fruits and vegetables.

These are just a few of the laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2012.  Every state will be affected by different laws. It is up to every citizen to know and understand the ones that apply to them.