August is generally a slow month for changes in laws at the state level.
Most state legislatures are in recess and not many laws passed during the 2018 legislative session become effective in August, but this doesn’t mean there is no activity.
California, for one, never stops pumping out bills and signing them into law. A few other states had extraordinary sessions while others which meet infrequently throughout the year had some noteworthy acts. Those of us who don’t follow us on social media might have missed some of these, but being informed of changing laws is crucial to a civic society.
Here’s a breakdown by topic for some of the categories that saw the most activity:
- California Senate Bill 1177 , introduced back in February, originally addressed payments to school employees. It was gutted and rewritten in June to extend the state’s ban on multiple handgun purchases within a 30-day period to cover all firearms. Both chambers passed that version in August, and now it only needs the Governor’s signature to become law.
- The Illinois House introduced a bill on August 7th making it a 2nd degree felony to possess a firearm, any major, non-removable part of which is undetectable by metal detectors . This bill is gathering co-sponsors and no votes have taken place.
- Massachusetts is attempting to ban 3D printed guns , introducing a bill on August 20th which makes using a 3D printer to make any part of component to be used in a firearm, or assembling a weapon without obtaining a serial number first, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. No votes have been taken on this bill yet but both chambers are considering it jointly.
- Several states have laws requiring firearms be stored in a certain manner, and Pennsylvania introduced a bill on August 15th with the intent of joining their ranks . The bill would require firearms be stored with devices that prevent them from being fired or in a secure box/container/location. It was referred to committee and has not been voted on as of this writing.
Alcohol, Marijuana, and Drugs
- Earlier in the year California proposed to ban selling alcoholic beverages containing cannabis or cannabis products . That bill finished the rounds and is heading to Governor Jerry Brown for approval.
- California also proposed extending last call at bars to 4am back in January if authorized locally. This bill is also now heading to Jerry Brown’s desk.
- The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that you cannot be criminally penalized for refusing to consent to blood tests when suspected of a DUI. California has complied with that ruling via Assembly Bill 2717 , signed into law on August 20th, and now only revokes a driver’s license for refusing consent.
- Delaware has been considering banning powdered alcohol since April of 2018. On August 10th, they became the 37th state to take this action by imposing a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail for possessing it.
- Back in January, New York legislators introduced a bill to subject school bus drivers to pre-employment and random screens for drug and alcohol use . That bill was signed into law on August 24th and will become effective on December 22nd.
Policing and Litigation
- In February, Buzzfeed published an article about police having sex with those in their custody and pointed out that only a small percentage of states explicitly banned the practice. Illinois introduced a bill at that time to create an explicit ban in the state , which was signed into law August 3rd.
- In an attempt to cut down on non-emergency calls to 911, the New York legislature introduced a bill on August 15th which would make doing this a class B misdemeanor. It was sent to committee and no further action has been taken yet.
- On August 29th, an Ohio legislator introduced a bill which aims to curb abusive lawsuits, or ‘lawfare’ . It states that any lawsuit filed by one spouse, dating partner, roommate, or relative against another which makes allegations that have no evidence or have been previously litigated be dismissed with prejudice. No actions were taken between the 29th and the end of the month.
- California’s AB1884 fines restaurants $25/day for each day they offer patrons plastic straws , unless the patron requests one. This bill was introduced in January and was sent to Governor Brown on August 28th.
- Pennsylvania is also looking to ban plastic straws, as well as plastic eating utensils and food containers. Senate Bill 1233 would grant exemptions for meat trays and egg cartons but nothing else. The bill was introduced on August 9th and hasn’t moved from its committee assignment yet.
See part 2 of this post for changes related to cybersecurity, privacy, drones, animals and pets, employment, voting, education and child care, radioactivity, IDs and credentials, money and finances, and traffic laws.
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