Employers in California and Illinois will be prohibited from demanding
access to workers' password-protected social networking accounts and
teachers in Oregon will be required to report suspected student bullies
thanks to new laws taking effect in 2013.
In all, more than 400
measures were enacted at the state level during 2012 and will become law
in the new year, according to the National Conference of State
Some of the statutes, which deal with
everything from consumer protection to gun control and healthcare, take
effect at the stroke of midnight. Others will not kick in until later in
The raft of measures includes a new abortion
restriction in New Hampshire, public-employee pension reform in
California and Alabama, same-sex marriage in Maryland, and a requirement
that private insurers in Alaska cover autism in kids and young adults,
In New Hampshire, a rarely used form of late-term
abortion will become illegal except to save the life of the mother - and
even then only if two doctors from separate hospitals certify the
procedure is medically necessary.
John Lynch, the state's outgoing
Democratic governor, had vetoed the measure, saying it would threaten
the lives of women in rural areas. But the state's Republican-controlled
legislature later overrode him.
In California and Illinois, laws
that take effect at 12:01 a.m. local time will make it illegal for
bosses to request social networking passwords or non-public online
account information from their employees or job applicants.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a similar measure into law
earlier this month that took effect immediately. The Michigan law also
penalizes educational institutions for dismissing or failing to admit a
student who does not provide passwords and other account information
used to access private internet and email accounts, including social
networks like Facebook and Twitter.
But workers and job seekers in
all three states will still need to be careful what they post online
Employers may continue to use publicly available social networking
information. So inappropriate pictures, tweets and other social media
indiscretions can still come back to haunt them.
Gun violence in
places where it's all too common, such as Chicago, and in places where
it's unexpected, such as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut - was big news in 2012. But only a handful of new state
firearms laws are set to take effect in 2013.
In Michigan, the
definition of a "pistol" under the law will now include any firearm less
than 26 inches in length. The new definition encompasses some rifles
with folding stocks and will make the weapons subject to the same
restrictions as pistols.
In Illinois, certain guns currently
regulated by state law, including paintball guns, will be excluded from
the definition of a firearm and participants in military re-enactments
will be exempt from some weapons laws.
Another big story in 2012
was the effort by lawmakers in a number of cash-strapped states to put
their public employee pension funds on a sounder financial footing.
California and Alabama, reforms designed to begin to address the
unfunded liabilities of those retirement systems will take effect in
Among the other new laws on the books in 2013
California, prison workers and peace officers will now be prohibited
from having sex with inmates and prisoners in transport.
- In Illinois, sex offenders will be prohibited from distributing candy on Halloween, or playing Santa or the Easter Bunny.
- In Oregon, employers won't be allowed to advertise a job vacancy if
they won't consider applicants who are currently out of work.
Kentucky, residents will be prohibited from releasing feral or wild
hogs back into the wild and Illinois will ban the possession and sale of
- And in Florida, the term "motor vehicle" will no
longer apply to the specialized all-terrain vehicles with over-sized
tires known as "swamp buggies" that are popular in some parts of the
© Thomson Reuters 2012