Although the U.S Congress has been largely unable to pass significant new legislation in recent years, individual states have been very active in the passage and enacting of laws to serve and protect the public. The following state laws went into effect January 1, 2015 and could signal legal trends that will affect the nation going into the future:
1. In the Weeds
Adult citizens in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, can now legally enjoy marijuana in a recreational setting.
2. Yes Means Yes, No Means No
Called the Yes Means Yes law in California, colleges receiving state funding for student aid are required to compel students engaging in sexual activity to have an “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” in order to have sex. The purpose of this law is to protect scared or unconscious students from involvement in sexual activity that they are unable to consent to.
3. Out-of-State Commute
A 2013 California law went into effect on January 1, 2015 that allows non-residents to apply for driver’s licenses in the state of California.
4. Driving into the Future
The state of Nevada approved driver authorization cards for adults who pass written and physical driver’s tests but are not in the country legally to have legal authorization to drive in Nevada. Driver authorization card privileges in Nevada require liability insurance if authorized drivers purchase vehicles.
5. Shredding Third Parties
Businesses in Delaware must shred, erase or destroy by some other means personal information of consumers to prevent information to be used by unauthorized parties.
6. Beer, Beer, Everywhere!
Beginning January 1, 2015, all brewed or fermented beverages from malt products–including hard cider–became categorized as simply beer in the state of Illinois.
7. No More Quotas
Effective January 1, monthly traffic ticket quotas issued by Illinois law enforcement agencies are illegal.
8. See Spot’s Belly Ring
Tattoos, piercings or fashion body modifications on pets could result in 15 days in jail and up to a 250 dollar fine in New York in 2015.
9. Don’t Kill the Messenger
The last part of a New York law passed in 2010 made throwing old laptops, game consoles and televisions in the trash against the law effective January 1, 2015. Electronic manufacturers are financing the new “E-waste” collection services; not using the services will leave offenders with a $00 fine.
10. Keep Us Composted
Food waste and compostable paper must be composted in the city of Seattle starting in 2015. Residents will get two warnings, but after the third strike, there will be a $50 fine if compostable waste is discovered in a dumpster and a $1 penalty for single family home trash receptacles.