With 2014 only a short few hours away, several states across the U.S. are set to introduce a slew of new laws that will, among other things, control the sale of marijuana, ban law enforcement from using drones and protect children from paparazzi. Here are 11 new laws taking effect in 2014.
Starting Jan. 1, the state of Oregon will allow new mothers to take home their placentas alongside their newborns. Previously, the organ was considered medical waste and was discarded after birth. Proponents of the placenta measure say many cultures across the world have uses for the placenta, including burying it or even eating it.
Amid concerns over ever-increasing government surveillance, Illinois plans to enforce bans on the use of drones by law enforcement in 2014. Beginning New Year’s Day, law enforcement in Illinois will be banned from using drone aircraft without a warrant. Another Illinois law bans drone owners from interfering with hunters. The law was introduced after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced plans to monitor hunters with drones.
On Jan. 1, Colorado will become the first state in the union to allow recreational marijuana stores to operate legally. Starting on Wednesday, Colorado residents over the age of 21 will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana legally in state-regulated stores. Colorado’s recreational weed will carry a 25 percent tax in addition to the standard state sales tax of 2.9 percent. Washington is expected to open similar stores later in the year.
Speaking of marijuana, other states are also increasing access to the drug, albeit with far stricter standards than Colorado. In 2014, Illinois will begin a medical marijuana pilot program, though on a smaller scale. Only some 10,000 Illinois residents are expected to partake, and it could take months before medical marijuana is available for sale. The pilot program will last through 2017, at which point legislators will determine if the drug can be sufficiently regulated for wider use.
A new transgender rights law will give California students from kindergarten to 12th grade the right to select bathrooms, sports teams and other sex-segregated programs and facilities based on their self-identified gender regardless of their birth gender. Massachusetts and Connecticut have similar laws in place, though California is the first state to require that all school districts respect transgender students’ identities.
No More Shark Fins
In an effort to stem rampant overfishing of sharks, Delaware has banned the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins throughout the state. In 2014, Delaware will become the seventh state to ban shark fins.
Most of these laws take effect on or around Jan. 1, but Illinois’ recognition of same-sex marriage won’t become legal until the middle of the year. Signed into law on Nov. 20, Illinois bill SB10 will formally recognize same-sex marriages in the state on June 1, 2014. The day the law takes effect, same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses. After a one-day waiting period, they can then legally marry on June 2.
In response to last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Connecticut will begin considering assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as illegal contraband on Jan. 1. New York passed similar legislation in response to the shooting, banning high-capacity magazines and the sale of AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. New York will also require the legal owners of assault weapons to register such guns with the state.
California will take steps to protect children harassed by paparazzi by penalizing photographers who photograph and harass children without consent with a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The law was supported by celebrities such as Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, who claim that their children have been unduly bothered by paparazzi. Under the law, parents can also sue for damages if photos of their children are printed in newspapers, magazines, etc.
California, which already has a minimum wage higher than the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour, is set to increase its statewide minimum wage from $8 to $9 an hour. The same legislation will also increase California’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.
Beginning Jan. 2, Nevada will allow immigrants without legal documentation to apply for a state driving privilege card. The cards are distinct from state driver’s licenses and will not be accepted as official identification. Immigrants receiving the cards will still be required to pass a driving test and pay for insurance. Maryland is enacting a similar law, allowing illegal immigrants with proof of a state income tax return to obtain a state driver’s license.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.