PhotoYou can no longer sell a live animal in the street in California. Voters must now present a photo ID in  voters to present photo identification will go into effect in Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee  and Texas. And in North Carolina, you can't run for more than one office in the same election.

Those are just a few of the more than 40,000 new laws passed by state legislatures around the country in 2011.  Most take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

Washington, D.C., may have suffered gridlock but back home in Sacramento, Santa Fe, Springfield and Salem, lawmakers were toiling away, seemingly regulating everything in sight and slapping new taxes and fees on anything that moved. States blessed -- or cursed, depending on your point of view -- with a full-time legislature cranked out more laws than those whose lawmakers must earn a living on Main Street most of the year.

Several states passed legislation regarding the use of E-Verify that will go into effect at the start of the new year. Other bills range from prohibiting the sale of shark fins to allowing civil unions, from creating a license plate for music teachers and banning people under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.

Here, courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), are just a few of the new laws, grouped by topic.

Alcohol & Drug Policy

A new law in California will make it a misdemeanor to sell, dispense or distribute a synthetic cannabinoid compound, commonly known as “spice” or “K2.”   At least 40 states have adopted laws or departmental rules to ban chemical substances related to synthetic cannabinoids. California SB 420

Another California law prohibits the production, distribution or sale of beer to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient. California SB 39

And another new law in California will prohibit any person or retail distributor from knowingly supplying a drug or substance containing any quantity of dextromethorphan, or DXM, to a person under 18 without a prescription. DXM, an active ingredient in cough suppressants, is often used as a recreational drug. California SB 514

Animals & Wildlife

New legislation in California increases the misdemeanor penalty for animal neglect and makes it a crime to sell a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, or carnival. California SB 917

Two new laws in Oregon and California prohibit the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins.  California AB 376 and Oregon HB 2838

A package of bills in Oregon aims to increase compliance with the requirement to report any hunting  activity. HB 2125 allows the department to impose a $25 surcharge on the hunting license renewal of anyone who fails to file a report.

An Oregon law increases the damages for unlawfully taking or killing certain game mammals, and specifies the value of the wildlife for purposes of certain crimes. Oregon HB 2439

Children & Families

A law in New Mexico amends the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to provide a basis for the registration, recognition and enforcement of child support orders from foreign countries. New Mexico SB 284

Civil Unions / Rights

A law in California amends the  Fair Employment and Housing Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the enumerated characteristics that require equal rights and opportunities under the law and prohibit discrimination. California AB 887

New laws in Delaware and Hawaii make same-sex couples eligible for civil union recognition and grant them the same rights and benefits as married couples under the law. Delaware SB 30,Hawaii SB 232

Consumer Protection

A new law in California prohibits the use of ultraviolet tanning devices by children under the age of 18. California SB 746

Legislation in Oregon will exempt certain farmers from certain regulations, allowing them to sell products directly to the consumer without licenses of inspection. The law also issues labeling requirements for products sold by one farmer but produced by another. Oregon HB 2336

California begins banning stores from selling expired infant food and formula, and over-the-counter medication that has lost important nutritional or pharmaceutical benefits.  California AB 688

Corrections & Criminal Justice

Legislation in California requires that when a defendant is extradited back to the state, the judge issue bail at $100,000 in addition to any bail already issued for the underlying original offense. California SB 291

An Oregon law expanded the list of people eligible to have their convictions set-aside to include some non-violent class B felony offenses. Oregon HB 3376

Crime & Law Enforcement

A California law includes encouraging, persuading or forcing a person under 18 years of age to engage in a commercial sex act within the definition of a criminal profiteering activity. California AB 90

California now will include injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation in the list of traumatic conditions under the felony domestic violence statute. California SB 430

A new law in California makes it a misdemeanor to openly carry an exposed, unloaded handgun while in a public place or on a public street in an incorporated city, or in specified prohibited areas of an unincorporated county. California AB 144

A new law in Kentucky amends the provisions for those who commit elder and vulnerable adult abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Kentucky HB 52

A new California law authorizes wage garnishments of those convicted of elder financial abuse. California AB 2619

Legislation in California will include certain posts on social networking sites as a form of bullying, incorporating them into existing law that deems cyber bullying as grounds for student suspension or expulsion. California AB 746

Distracted Driving

Many states passed laws restricting texting or the use of cell phones while driving. A Nevada law will prohibit all drivers from text messaging and using handheld phone devices (SB 140). North Dakota passed a law that bans drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones in their cars (HB 1256), and another that bars all drivers from text messaging (HB 1195)

A new Oregon law adjusts exceptions to the offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone. The law prohibits texting while driving, but adds an exception for Oregon drivers operating a tow vehicle, roadside assistance vehicle, or a vehicle owned by a utility. Oregon HB 3186


California will now require school districts that offer athletic programs to remove an athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury from the activity. The law also prohibits the return of the athlete until he or she is evaluated and receives written clearance from a licensed health care provider. California AB 25

The California Dream Act expands eligibility for non-state funded scholarships to students who quality for the existing exemption from non-resident tuition (California AB 130). 

A law in California adds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and others to the list of cultural groups whose roles and contributions to the development of the United States should be accurately portrayed in social science instructional materials. California SB 48

A law in Oregon requires state universities and community colleges to waive tuition and fees for current and former foster children under age 25, and gives foster children priority for state Opportunity Grants when there aren’t enough funds to help all eligible students.  Oregon HB 3471


California passed a series of election reform bills that will go into effect on Jan. 1.  AB 80 consolidates the presidential primary with the state primary.  AB 84 allows new citizens to register and vote on Election Day, compared with other citizens who must register at least seven days before the election.AB 547 makes it a misdemeanor for someone who provides care to an elderly person in a state facility or program to coerce or deceive the person into voting a certain way.

A new law in California allows active duty military personnel who are serving outside the state to file candidacy papers through a power of attorney. AB 754

North Carolina adopted the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act, which makes the voting process easier for service members and civilians overseas. HB 514.

A Tennessee law clarifies that the federal postcard application used by military and overseas voters will be accepted for all elections, not just federal elections (HB 1081).

A new law in Texas require deputy and volunteer voting registrars to meet the same requirements as a registered voter:  be U.S. citizens and eligible to vote in the state of Texas. The law also prohibits performance-based compensation for voter registration drives. Texas HB 2194


Laws requiring businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. will go into effect in Louisiana (HB 646), Tennessee (HB 1378), South Carolina (SB 20) and Georgia (HB 87).

California will now prohibit any state or local government from requiring a private employer to use the federal E-Verify program unless required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.  AB 1236


A new law in California prohibits an employer or prospective employer from using a consumer credit report for employment purposes. The law will bar employers from using consumer credit reports to evaluate candidates unless the position for which the candidate is applying meets one or more of the law’s exemption criteria and the employer obtains the consent from the candidate.  AB 22

Another new law in California prohibits employers from refusing to maintain and pay for individual maternity coverage under a group health plan for the duration of an employee’s pregnancy leave, for up to four months. SB 299

A law in Oregon prohibits employers from ceasing to provide health, disability, life or other insurance to an employee who is serving jury duty. It also makes it illegal for employers to fire, threaten to fire, or intimidate employees over their service as a juror. Oregon HB 2828

Health Care

Florida has enacted new reporting requirements for physicians and dentists who dispense controlled substances for treatment of nonmalignant pain. Florida HB 7095

A Louisiana law requires health benefit plans to notify and disclose covered prescription drugs. The law will also limit modifications to drug coverage during a plan year and will allow it only upon renewal. Louisiana HB 345

Human Trafficking

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 requires large retailers and manufacturers to tell consumers on their websites what steps, if any, they take to ensure their product supply chains are free from slavery and trafficking. California SB 657

A new Oregon law will require businesses with liquor licenses to supply proof of age for all their employees upon request. Oregon SB 898


A New Mexico law adopts the Uniform Assignment of Rents, which defines who should receive rent payments when a creditor takes over a mortgage on a property.  New Mexico HB 199

Impaired Driving

A new law in California authorizes courts to revoke for up to 10 years the driver’s license of any person convicted of three or more DUI offenses. The current law allows for a license revocation of three years. California AB 1601

An Oregon law requires the courts to include ignition interlock devices as a condition of DUI diversion agreements. Oregon HB 3075


A law enacted in North Carolina and five other states requires companies offering insurance against loss, theft, or mechanical failure for portable electronic devices to hold a limited lines license issued by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The Department of Insurance would have the same regulatory authority over portable electronics insurance as it has with all limited lines insurance. North Carolina HB 617


In addition to being asked if they want to be an organ donor, people applying for a driver’s license or state identification card in Minnesota will be asked to contribute $2 to a donor awareness campaign. Minnesota HF808

A new California law will prohibit the impounding of a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint if the driver’s only offense is the failure to hold a valid license. California AB 353

An Oregon law directs the Transportation Department to construct and maintain a roadside memorial sign for police officers killed in the line of duty. The law creates a Roadside Memorial Fund to finance the memorials. Oregon HB 3039

A Minnesota law taking effect May 25, 2011, required that information about carbon monoxide poisoning be included in the driver’s manual and be part of driver’s education training. Minnesota HF 650

Legislation in California mandates that children remain in booster seats an additional two years until they reach age 8 or four feet nine inches tall. California SB 929

Washington legislation authorizes the use of modified off-road motorcycles on public roads and grants drivers all the rights of motorcycle drivers. Washington SB 5800

Washington approved special license plates to support volunteer fire fighters (HB 1136) and music teachers (HB 1329).


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