Weekly Wrap: New Year Brings New Laws


New state laws that take effect across the country on New Year's Day range from affecting the way residents drive to whether they can marry or profit from snapping a celebrity's photograph.

As of Jan. 1, same-sex couples in New Hampshire can marry. Thirty-nine couples had secured same-sex marriage licenses to use sometime in 2010, The Union Leader in Manchester reported.

If you drive in the snow in Ohio , better turn on the car lights or face a fine of up to $150. A new Minnesota law requires an out-of-state visitor wanting to use an all-terrain vehicle on state trails to buy a $20 pass.

With help from lobbying from actress Jennifer Aniston, a new paparazzi law in California will allow for civil penalties of up to $50,000 against media that sell or buy "unlawfully obtained" photos and video of people, including celebrities and their families, The Los Angeles Times reported.

State legislatures enacted 40,697 laws during the 2009 legislative session, according to a tally and sampling of new laws from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Other new state laws that NCSL says go into effect this week include:

  • College students in Texas will have to show proof of vaccination against bacterial meningitis before they can live on campus.
  • Certain dog breeders in Washington state will have new guidelines that limit the number of breeding dogs to 50, require adequate room and exercise time and set sanitary conditions.
  • Resident medical students in New Mexico who chose primary care and then practice in underserved areas of the state for a period of time will get tuition waivers.
  • New payday loan regulations in Kentucky will restrict borrowers to two of this type of loan totaling no more than $500 at one time. Payday loans are short-term loans that are intended to cover expenses until the borrower's next payday.
  • Restaurants in California will have to use oils, margarines and shortening with less than half a gram of trans fat per serving starting on Jan. 1, 2010. A similar provision will apply to baked goods on Jan. 1, 2011.
  • A new public-safety campaign in Louisiana will warn residents about the risks of consuming seafood from China and instead promotes Louisiana seafood.
  • Illinois drivers will be prohibited from texting while driving, joining at least 18 other states.

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