July 1 Brings Scores of New State Laws
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
July 1 is the beginning of the new fiscal year for all but four states, and lawmakers in some states — including California, Illinois and New York- are still trying to hammer out final budget deals (in New York's case, the budget is already three months late). But July 1 is also the date that hundreds of new laws go into effect around the nation. Here is an overview of some of the most notable:
- All repeat drunken drivers in Wisconsin will be required to use ignition interlock devices , which prevent drivers from starting a car until they prove through an instant breath test that they are not intoxicated. First-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level of .15 or higher also must use the devices. The laws come in response to a spate of high-profile drunken-driving incidents and an investigative series by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel exposing Wisconsin's failure to address drunken driving.
- Connecticut hospitals and outpatient surgery centers will be required to report medical errors and infection rates to the public under a law signed Wednesday (June 30) by Governor M. Jodi Rell. The law, which goes into effect immediately, also adds protections for hospital employees and other whistleblowers who report medical errors.
- Maryland homeowners who are threatened with foreclosure now have a right to mediation under a law pushed by Governor Martin O'Malley. Among other provisions, the new requires lenders to include information about loan modification options when they inform homeowners that a foreclosure may be imminent.
- Mississippi residents are now required to have a doctor's prescription before they can buy Sudafed and other common cold and allergy medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in producing illegal methamphetamine. Oregon is the only other state that requires a doctor's prescription, as Stateline reported earlier this year , and it has seen a sharp decline in meth labs.
- Besides its new law allowing guns in bars, Virginia also now considers it illegal for its residents to be required to buy health insurance. The law is a response to the federal health care legislation signed by President Obama in March. Similar measures also passed elsewhere, including in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Utah.