NCSL's Annual List of State Laws Going Into Effect on Jan. 1
Along with New Year’s resolutions, Jan. 1 marks the day many new state laws go into effect. In our annual tradition, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has compiled a list of some of the most interesting ones.
In 2013, all 50 states, plus the commonwealths and territories, met in regular session and enacted nearly 40,000 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. In California, Illinois and Oregon, new laws generally go into effect on Jan. 1 unless the bill specifies otherwise. In other states, laws take effect July 1, 90 days after passage or on a date identified in the bill.
Among the wide variety of new laws NCSL has identified, several made news this past year. Newly issued insurance policies purchased through health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act will begin covering patients Jan. 1. The beginning of the year also marks the start of expanded Medicaid coverage in the states that chose to expand. In Colorado, adults will be able to walk into state-licensed shops and buy up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. In Connecticut, the final piece of the nation’s strictest gun-control law will click into place. Arkansas will require voters to present a photo ID at the polling place, Illinois passed a couple of laws regulating the use of drones, and in California, new rights and protections have been established for transgender youth, Internet users and inmates serving long sentences for offenses they committed as juveniles.
The following laws grouped by general topic area will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Children and Families
A new Colorado law imposes maintenance formulas, similar to those used to determine child support, to calculate alimony payments in divorce cases. Colorado HB 1058
In California, eligibility for CalFresh food-stamp benefits is no longer dependent on the age of the applicant, and welfare departments must accept applications from unaccompanied homeless youth. California AB 309
Another California law prohibits a parent from inheriting a child’s estate if the parent’s rights were terminated or if the parent did not acknowledge, support or attempt to maintain communication with the child. California AB 490
Maryland will begin piloting a new summer internship program in state agencies specially designed for foster youth. Maryland HB 1119
In Oregon, eligible employees may take up to two weeks of family leave to deal with the death of a family member. Oregon HB 2950
Crime and Courts
A new law in California allows inmates who committed crimes when they were teenagers to be released or resentenced by establishing a special parole-review process in which individuals who meet certain criteria are eligible for release after 15 years of incarceration. California SB 260
In Connecticut, the final set of reforms stemming from the Newtown school shootings take effect on Jan.1. They include mandatory registration of all assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines purchased prior to April 2013, and creation of a statewide registry that will track parolees whose crimes involved the use of weapons. Connecticut SB 1160
A new law in Illinois requires that police be trained in the psychological and physiological effects of using stun guns on humans, with a report on the training program’s effectiveness due June 31, 2016. Illinois HB 131
In California, training programs for judges, mediators and others who perform duties in family law and juvenile court must include the effects of gender identity and sexual orientation on family law proceedings. Further, dependency hearing training must include best practices for providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. California AB 868
A new law in Delaware forbids the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins. Delaware HB 41
In Illinois, victims of human trafficking who were tattooed by their captors can have their tattoo removed with funds from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Act. Illinois HB 2640
In Texas, a victim (or parent or guardian of a victim) of certain sex offenses or stalking will have the right to terminate a lease without financial penalties. Texas SB 946
A new law in Illinois prohibits anyone from using a drone to interfere with hunters or fisherman. Illinois HB 1652
Another Illinois law—the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act—prohibits law enforcement from using a drone to gather information, except with a warrant issued to counter a terrorist attack, prevent harm to life, or prevent the imminent escape of a suspect, among other situations. If a law enforcement agency uses a drone, the agency must destroy all information gathered by the drone within 30 days with certain exceptions. Both new laws define "drone" as any aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator. Illinois SB 1587
In California, students must be permitted to participate in school athletic programs and use school bathrooms “consistent with their gender identity,” regardless of their birth gender. California AB 1266
A new law in Illinois will require school districts to provide catastrophic accident insurance for high school athletes whose injuries occur during school-sponsored athletic events, and result in medical expenses over $50,000. The policies must have collective limits of $3 million or five years, whichever occurs first. Illinois SB 2178
A new Utah law allows high schools to conduct annual earthquake-evacuation drills. Utah HB 217
California will require that financial literacy—including budgeting, managing debt and protecting against identity theft—be integrated into textbooks and courses for grades 7 through 12. California AB 166
In Colorado, a new law allows 16-year-olds to preregister to vote, with registration automatically becoming active when they turn 18. Colorado HB 1135
A major election reform package in Florida includes, among other things, an expanded list of sites available for early voting, a 75-word limit on ballot summaries of proposed constitutional amendments, and a requirement that voters whose ballots are rejected be provided with a specific reason for the rejection. In addition, voters who forget to sign their absentee ballot envelope may now sign an affidavit and have their vote counted. Florida HB 7013
In California, county elections officials are required to establish a free access system that allows people who vote by mail to learn whether their ballot was counted, and if not, the reason it was not counted. California SB 589
A new Arkansas law requires voters to present a photo ID at the polling place; those who fail to do so will be given provisional ballots that won’t be counted until they show a photo ID. The new requirement takes effect on Jan. 1, or when funding is made available to the secretary of state’s office for the issuance of free IDs. Arkansas SB 2
Virginia’s new law allowing voters to register online goes into effect Jan. 1. It allows voters who have driver’s licenses or identification cards from the state the chance to apply to become a voter through a web portal. Virginia HB 2341
Legislators in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island—and voters in New Jersey—approved minimum-wage increases that will take effect Jan. 1. In Connecticut, the new minimum is $8.70 an hour; in New Jersey, $8.25; and in New York and Rhode Island, $8. (California passed a minimum wage increase to $9.00, but it takes effect in July 2014.)
On Jan. 1 Rhode Island will become the eighth state to limit the use of criminal records during the hiring process. “Ban the box” policies—so called because of the box an applicant must check on an application if he or she has a criminal record—prohibit an employer’s inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history on the initial written application. Rhode Island SB 357 / HB 5507.
Minnesota’s “ban the box” policy will now apply to both public and private employers. Minnesota SF 523
In all 50 states, under provisions of the Affordable Care Act that take effect on Jan. 1, newly issued insurance policies purchased through health exchanges will begin covering patient treatments, and state laws regulating that coverage will apply to the newly insured. The beginning of the year also marks the start of expanded Medicaid coverage in the 25 states and the District of Columbia that have opted to extend benefits to adults with incomes effectively up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
A new Oregon law bans smoking in motor vehicles when children are present. Oregon SB 444
New laws in Missouri and Montana require private insurance plans to cover teleheath (remote) health care services. Missouri HB 986 and Montana SB 270
Minnesota requires residential home sellers to disclose in writing to the buyer any knowledge the seller has of radon concentrations in the home. Minnesota SF 887
Tanning salons will be off limits to minors in Illinois and Oregon starting Jan 1. Illinois HB 188 and Oregon HB 2896
Maine became the 48th state to require the inclusion of a check-off for organ donation on driver’s licenses as a way of promoting organ donor programs. Maine HB 586
In Illinois, a new law expands the duties that Advanced Practice Nurses are allowed to perform. Under a collaborative agreement with a physician, APNs must be allowed to practice to the full extent of their training. Illinois HB 1052
California will be the first state to require websites that collect personal information about their users to specify in their privacy policies how they track users, how they respond to users’ “do not track” requests and whether third parties can collect personal information across sites. California AB 370
Oregon joins the growing number of states in which employers can’t compel an employee or applicant—and colleges can’t require students or prospective students—to provide access to their social media accounts. Oregon HB 2654 and Oregon SB 344
In Illinois, a new law toughens the penalties (to a maximum of six years in prison) for inciting violent flash mobs or a riot via Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Illinois HB 1005
Also in Illinois, it is now illegal for websites that post mug shots to solicit or accept money in exchange for removing the photos from their websites. Illinois SB 115
Similarly, in Oregon, such websites must remove mug shots and other personal information, free of charge, if the person pictured provides documentation of acquittal or of charges being dropped. Oregon HB 3467
In Colorado, anyone over the age of 21 will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at state-licensed retail outlets. Colorado HB 1317
Oregon will become the 13th state to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Oregon HB 3460
In Illinois, medical marijuana will be available for sale in 60 state-run dispensaries, under a four-year pilot program. Illinois HB 1
Illinois becomes the 13th state (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands) to prohibit motorists from using hand-held cellphones while driving. Illinois HB 1247
Also in Illinois, school districts can install cameras on school buses to photograph drivers who pass them when buses are stopped. Fines collected from violators will go to school districts and cities. Illinois SB 0923
The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority can publish on its website the names of drivers who owe more than $1,000 in tolls, fines or unpaid late fees. Illinois HB 1214
In Colorado, a new plug-in electric vehicle registration fee of $50 a year is part of a recent trend in which states are looking to capture more revenues from alternative fuel, high-efficiency and electric vehicles. Colorado HB 1110
A new law in New Hampshire requires anyone driving with a passenger under the age of 7 to make sure that the child is properly fastened and secured by a child-restraint system. (Previously, the age was 6.) New Hampshire HB 242
NCSL is the bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staff of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.