New fiscal year means new laws
July 1 marked the beginning of the new fiscal year, which means a slew of laws went into effect across the nation last Monday. Here is a look at some of the country’s most important (and interesting) new legislation:
Many new laws focused on topics that are part of the greater national debate, such as gun control, reproductive rights, drone surveillance and Internet privacy, according to NBC News. Others affect smaller-scale issues, such as prohibiting young teens in New Jersey and Nevada from artificially tanning and allowing drinking on Kentucky’s election day.
Gun control laws were tweaked across the country, with some states tightening legislation and others relaxing regulations. Colorado’s restrictive gun control laws went into effect last Monday, requiring background checks for both private and online gun sales. The legislation also outlaws high-capacity ammunition magazines, according to NBC News.
18 states, however, loosened their gun control legislation, with Kansas allowing guns in more public buildings and South Dakota allowing teachers to arm themselves in schools, according to NBC News.
Abortion laws were also subject to sweeping changes. NBC reports 13 states passed stricter abortion laws. The American Civil Liberties Union says this is after state legislators heard more than 300 bills aimed at limiting abortions. Most notably, North Dakota passed the strictest laws, prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and Texas is still battling over a bill restricting abortions after 20 weeks.
The Associated Press reports tech issues were also major legislative targets, with dozens of states limiting employers from accessing their worker’s social media profiles. Washington State has prohibited managers from compelling employees to “friend” them on Facebook, so that profiles can be reviewed.
Additionally, the AP reports that starting July 1, Hawaii and West Virginia motorists will have to put down their cellphones while driving, or face tickets, while Utah and South Dakota have enacted similar restrictions on new drivers.
Laws regarding the use of drone aircraft also took effect. Idaho forbade any individual or agency from using unmanned aircraft for surveillance, while Virginia passed a ban on authorities using drones for the next two years. Texas’ legislation, aimed at law enforcement’s use of drone aircraft passed, but won’t be effective until the fall, according to the AP.
Also in the AP’s list of new legislation:
- Washington lawmakers are removing sexist language from official documents. Gender-specific pronouns have been phased out, and terms like “security guards” have replaced “watchmen.”
- Wyoming will establish a state lottery for the first time, leaving only a small list of states without such programs.
- Kentucky lifted prohibition-era legislation, which prohibited election-day drinking.
- Maine will plant edible vegetation around its statehouse.
- New Jersey and Nevada enacted legislation keeping minors (Under 17 in New Jersey, under 18 in Nevada) from using artificial tanning beds.