New laws ban pythons, loosen gun control, restrict smoking and prohibit texting while driving

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New laws for guns, smoking, drinking and texting

July 1 is the effective date in many states for laws passed during this year’s legislative sessions. Some of those laws, by topic:


— Florida outlaws personal ownership of Burmese pythons and six other species of large nonnative reptiles, and cracks down on horse thieves to target a South Florida black market in horse meat.

Criminal Justice:

— Virginia expands eligibility for the death penalty to include those who kill on-duty auxiliary police officers or fire marshals. Oklahoma requires public schools to include lessons about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in their curriculum. A new law in Alabama makes human trafficking a crime. In New Hampshire, prison inmates would be paroled at least nine months before their maximum sentences end so they can be supervised as they move back into their communities. In Kentucky, people who violate domestic violence orders could be required to wear ankle monitors under a law that takes effect July 15. Mississippi is creating a process for first-time, non-violent offenders convicted of certain felonies to expunge their records.


— Motorists in Georgia and Kentucky face fines if caught texting while driving, while laws in those states also bar new drivers from using cell phones. New Hampshire adds cyberbullying to its anti-bullying laws by addressing electronic devices, including telephones, cell phones, computers, pagers, e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and websites. Nevada adds bullying and cyberbullying to a list of banned activities in schools.


— Convicted drunken drivers in four California counties — including car-centric Los Angeles — will have to prove they are sober before they can start their vehicles; the test program requires first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices. Indiana residents who want to buy alcohol must show proof of age no matter how old they are. A new Wisconsin law aimed at curbing drunken driving increases mandatory jail time for repeat offenders. In North Carolina, meanwhile, liquor distilleries can obtain permits to hold tasting events to promote their products.


— A West Virginia measure aimed at reducing the state’s estimated 17 percent high school dropout rate provides alternative classrooms for disruptive students, special courts for juvenile drug cases, and a special track for career and technical education students who struggle with core courses. Mississippi’s school law allows chronically low-performing schools to be restructured into charter or “new start” schools — public schools designed to increase parental involvement. New Mexico hopes to close an achievement gap for Hispanic students with a law establishing a liaison within the Public Education Department to focus on Hispanic students. One Florida law adds more math and science requirements for high school graduation, while another expands a voucher program that lets poor students go to private schools at public expense. In Connecticut, coaches must immediately take athletes out of any interscholastic or intramural game, competition, practice or other athletic activity if they show signs of a concussion.


— People with permits to carry concealed weapons can carry guns into restaurants that serve alcohol in Virginia and New Mexico. An Indiana law lets workers keep guns locked in their vehicles while parked on their employers’ property.


— In Minnesota, minors can no longer get tattoos or pierced genitals, regardless of whether they have a parent’s permission. Ohio will require insurance plans governed by state law to offer parents the chance to buy coverage for their children up to age 28, going beyond the federal law. Mississippi will now require a doctor’s prescription for the decongestant pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in methamphetamine.


— Statewide bans in most public places take effect in Kansas and, on July 5, in Wisconsin. South Carolina raises the excise tax on cigarettes by 50 cents a pack to a total of 57 cents a pack, while New Mexico raises the tax by 75 cents a pack. Florida is outlawing the sale of various types of pipes or “bongs” that can be used to smoke illegal, as well as legal, substances, except at stores that mostly sell tobacco.


— Georgia will allow members of the armed services and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to have the diagnosis noted on their driver’s license. An Ohio law taking effect Friday requires employers to provide two weeks of unpaid leave to the partners or parents of injured active-duty service members.

(This version CORRECTS glance by deleting Alaska animal cruelty and gun laws, both of which take effect later this year.)

will not be displayed