The Most Interesting New State Laws of 2013
Along with New Year’s resolutions, January 1 marks the day many new state laws go into effect. In an annual tradition, the National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a list of some of the most interesting ones.
In 2012, all but four states met in regular session and enacted more than 29,000 bills and resolutions. Not all new laws go into effect on the first of the year — it depends on the state’s constitution and whether the statute itself specifies when the law will officially begin.
Among the wide variety of new laws NCSL has identified, several have made news in the last year. Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, for example, became national news when the legislature first passed it, and voters later approved it in a statewide ballot referendum. Numerous states considered and passed legislation making it illegal for an employer to request social media account information from an employee or applicant. One such law goes into effect on New Year’s Day in Illinois.
The following laws grouped by general topic area will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
Alcohol and Drug Policy
A new Illinois law allows those under 21 who are participating in culinary programs to consume alcohol. Illinois SB 758
A new law in Oregon funds a program, distinct from the General Fund, for retired state police officers to discourage tobacco use in underage children. Oregon HB 4172
In California, it’s not a crime to possess illicit drugs if you are seeking assistance for yourself or someone else who has suffered an overdose. California AB 472.
A new law in Illinois enhances the penalties for manufacturing and selling bath salts. Illinois HB 5250
A new Washington law licenses medical marijuana producers and dispensaries to ensure qualified patients have access to an adequate, safe, consistent and secure source of medical quality cannabis. Washington SB 5073
Animals, Agriculture and Wildlife
In California it’s unlawful to let a dog pursue a bear or bobcat at any time. Previously, exceptions had been made for hunting. California SB 1221
In Illinois it’s against the law to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute shark fins. Illinois HB 4119
Laws in California and Illinois prohibit the use of a vehicle or watercraft if any aquatic plants or animals are attached to the exterior. Similar bills aimed at stopping the spread of invasive species have been adopted in Michigan, Maine, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. California SB 935 and Illinois HB 3888
Children and Families
Alaska will become the 31st state to enact autism insurance reform. The new law requires private health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for children and young adults up to the age of 21 with no financial cap on benefits. Alaska SB 74
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