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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New 2008 Laws

Usually I've been ripping purely on the fact that I dislike that Illinois is now yet another state with a total smoking ban and that is now effective as of Tuesday. But Illinois certainly wasn't the only state in the union that decided to put your tax dollars to work and churn up some new laws! Let's take a look around the country and shine some light on other January 1st laws now in effect, shall we?

Just so this isn't an "all these laws are stupid" article, I'm going to throw in some good laws, too. And some laws that some of you will think are good, even if I disagree.

Let's start off with a silly one, though. In California, it is now legal to import shoes and sportswear made from kangaroo hides. (In other news, apparently before 2008 it was NOT legal to import kangaroo hide footwear into California!)

In Minnesota, you can now only sell American flags that were actually made in America. I guess we've decided that American flags made in China are too at-risk for lead poisoning, though you should remind your children anyway that eating the American flag is probably an act of treason anyway, so lead poisoning would be the least of their worries.

If you plan on selling a home in Texas, you now legally have to disclose if it was ever a methamphetamine factory. Large explosion marks are no longer a standard warning - it's just like a used car history report, and any meth lab status has to be reported to the prospective buyers.

New Hampshire is the latest state to jump on the same-sex civil union train, and in Oregon domestic partnership procedures now apply for same-sex couples. Massachusetts is still the only state to offer same-sex marriages.

While most of my readers are aware of the Illinois general smoking ban, in California it is now illegal to smoke while driving - if there is a minor present in the vehicle. Rather than attest this driving law to keeping drivers focused and avoiding accidents, the state is using the logic that "the minor is trapped in an unhealthy environment." Luckily, some states out there ARE thinking about drivers and keeping them focused. In Oregon, drivers under 18 are now not allowed to use cellphones. In Washington, all drivers are now forbidden to text message behind the wheel. Seriously, how idiotic are you if you're text messaging behind the wheel of a vehicle in motion? Darwin really need to pick up the pace and get these morons out of the gene pool as quickly as possible. If it weren't for the other drivers, I'd prefer to just wait it out until these genetic rejects all get themselves killed!

In New York, the Passenger's Bill of Rights is now in effect, brought about by an incident in which a JetBlue aircraft was left on the tarmac for a 10-hour delay. Now thanks to this law, airlines must provide fresh food, water, air and clean restrooms for passengers on any aircraft stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours. I'd hope for an amendment to this Bill of Rights that states that at least one flight official somewhere in the corporate chain get hauled out and shot for any aircraft stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours. (Anyone who has been stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours will agree that this is a fair compensation, knowing that someone was put to death because of this inconvenience.)

Other horrible incidents that led to 2008 state laws would be the "Mel Gibson law" now in effect in California. The incidents involving Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant, as well as the Paris Hilton arrest in June, have sparked this law that makes it a misdemeanor for a peace officer or law enforcement employee to leak confidential information for financial gain. I was pretty sure it was already illegal to leak this information to gossip web sites, especially with the financial gain stuff! Apparently it needed a new law all about it.

A more friendly law coming from California would have to be the new law that allows redemption of gift cards for cash if the balance is less than ten dollars. The California lawmaker responsible for this bill's creation said that it was prompted by her frustration with a multitude of gift cards in her possession that only had a few dollars left.

Also in California, sperm donations will no longer be turned down from HIV-positive men. There is enough new technology available that can safely cleanse sperm of the virus, so men infected with HIV can now use his sperm in the artificial insemenation process after consent and cleansing. Also, HIV testing is now considered a routine part of physical exams, but patients can decline the test during their appointments.

Lastly, Arizona has taken a huge stand against illegal immigration by enacting the new state law that businesses will be stripped of their licenses for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. This goes far beyond the relatively-pithy fines that have become law in some states and cities, and perhaps a similar law increasing the penalty for landlords will arise in the near future.

These are just a sample of the laws that are now in effect as of midnight on Tuesday, January 1st. There are many more laws that have gone into effect, and I urge you to look up what laws in YOUR state are now in effect.

Do it now, before you wind up selling an un-American flag in Minnesota!

(One source of wacky new laws)
(Another source of wacky new laws)
(One more source of wacky new laws)

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