New State Laws Take Effect July 1

 

The beginning of the new budget year means no more talking on cell phones while driving in New Jersey, the start of Sunday liquor sales in Ohio, and Colorado's dangerous dogs must wear microchips.

Starting July 1, hundreds of new laws will take effect that will change people's daily lives, from where they can light up a cigarette to how much cold medicine they can buy at once.

New Jersey becomes the second state, after New York, to outlaw handheld cell phones while driving. Violators could pay a fine of up to $250. Ohio joins more than half the states in permitting liquor sales on Sundays, a sign that Prohibition-era restrictions continue to evaporate. Colorado dogs that have caused serious injury or show such tendencies must have microchips implanted at the owner's expense to permanently identify them. A state registry will track microchip placements.

Effective dates for state legislation vary. In some states, new laws take effect New Year's Day. Some laws take effect soon after a governor signs a bill passed by the legislature. Other state laws take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.

Among the new laws as of July 1, a California law (SB 677) bans soda in middle or junior high schools from a half-hour before school starts to 30 minutes after school ends. The measure, aimed at childhood obesity, requires elementary schools to serve milk, water, and juice drinks that are at least half fruit juice with no sweeteners.

Georgia residents, meanwhile, have more drinking options come July 1. State law will allow selling beer above 6 percent alcohol such as Belgian ales. And Colorado culinary students who are underage can sip and spit alcoholic beverages in post-secondary courses.

The new budget year also means changes in state rights for gay couples. In New Jersey, a domestic partnership law takes effect that gives gay couples the right to file joint state tax returns or make medical decisions for each other in the hospital. Meanwhile, a Virginia law that has been called discriminatory by gay rights groups dissolves contracts such as wills and leases between same-sex couples. The bill also could affect custody agreements.

Iowa's custody laws change July 1 when judges who deny joint physical care of a child, in which a child lives with each parent about half the time, must explain why it's not in the child's best interests.

New laws in several states take aim at politics:

  • A South Dakota law creates the Constitutional Revision Commission to examine the authority of the legislature compared to the governor's.
  • Florida political candidates' flyers, bumper stickers and yard signs must spell out, without abbreviations, "Political advertisement paid for and approved by..." 
  • Kansas residents who go to the polls will have to show a driver's license or other identification to cast a valid ballot.

Also on July 1, Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell will take over when Connecticut Gov. John Rowland (R) leaves office. Rowland resigned June 21 after being the subject of a federal investigation and a move to impeach him.

The day Rowland leaves office, a new Connecticut law takes effect to ban the use of campaign funds for anyone's personal benefit, including defraying normal living expenses. The law was a response to Rowland's use of the Republican Party credit card, for which the Elections Enforcement Commission fined him last year, but closing the loophole won't restore the public trust, said Andy Sauer, executive director of Connecticut Common Cause.

"The damage to the public trust in government is irrevocable. Resignation alone isn't going to take care of it. And while scandal hung over the capitol, legislators only did the bare minimum," Sauer said.

Here are other changes that take effect July 1:

Health care:

  • Colorado will allow issuing certificates of stillbirth.
  • Iowa residents can purchase only two packages of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine, used to produce the illegal drug methamphetamine.
  • Mississippi health care providers can opt out of participating in abortions if they object to the procedure.

Crime:

  • Colorado will outlaw using photo cell phones to take pictures of people undressing in locker rooms or other places where privacy is expected. Colorado also will make it a felony to pose as a police officer and is lowering the state's blood-alcohol limit to prove drunken driving to .08 percent, meaning eight-tenths alcohol per 1,000 parts blood in the body.
  • Georgia will make it a felony to create the illegal drug methamphetamine in the presence of a child. 
  • Virginia police can arrest and hold illegal immigrants who return to the United States after being convicted of felonies and deported. The law is a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Education:

  • Georgia teachers can receive a 5 percent pay raise if their students show significant improvement on state tests.
  • Kansas' lower in-state tuition at state universities and colleges will be offered to illegal immigrants who attended a state high school at least three years and graduated or earned a certificate.

Transportation:

  • Alaska will impose a $5 per tire tax on studded tires sold in the state. Arizona will require all taxi cabs to install meters and provide proof of insurance.
  • Georgia children 5 years old or younger must be placed in car booster seats.
  • Iowa children younger than 6 will have to ride in booster seats, and kids ages 6 through 10 will have to be secured in either a booster seat or by a seatbelt.
    •Kansas will set aside bonds and sales tax revenues to shore up funding for transportation projects.
    •South Dakota drivers can no longer be stopped just for having an object dangling from the rear-view mirror. Teenage drivers can drive solo two hours longer, until 10 p.m.

 Business:

  • California workers can begin taking paid leave to care for sick relatives or spend time with a newborn or newly adopted child.
  • California is the first state to offer workers comprehensive family leave with compensation.
  • California businesses that negotiate with consumers in four Asian languages must provide contracts written in the same language.
  • California residents who buy TVs and computer monitors must pay fees to create a statewide electronic waste recycling program.
  • Another California law requires commercial Web sites that collect personal information from state residents to post a privacy policy on their site.
  • Idaho will ban smoking in public places, except for bars, tobacco stores, bowling alleys and hotels. Florida and Vermont also have bans but exempt some locations. Massachusetts' anti-smoking ban, without exceptions for bars, becomes effective July 5, joining five other states with such prohibitionsNew York, Connecticut, Maine, Delaware and California.
  • Louisiana single-family home sellers must tell buyers of any imperfections such as drippy faucets or the presence of radon gas.
  • Michigan will increase the cigarette tax from $1.25 to $2 per pack, second only to New Jersey.
  • Ohio will change its definition of food, so consumers no longer will have to pay sales tax on items such as ice, bottled water and breath mints that formerly were excluded from the definition of food, which is exempt from sales tax.
  • A Rhode Island lead paint law will require owners of rental properties built before 1978 to take a three-hour class and give tenants information about lead on their property.
  • A South Dakota law will start a program to provide low-income people with tax credits on sales taxes paid for groceries.
 
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