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 categories that each had less happening:
- In February California introduced a bill to ban using bots pretending to be people to influence election votes or purchasing decisions. The Senate and Assembly passed the bill and are ironing out the differences.
- We wrote a blog post last month discussing how few states have laws explicitly banning ransomware. On August 9th, Pennsylvania introduced a bill to make using ransomware a third degree felony, which would make it one of a handful of states with such a law. It was referred to committee but no further action has been taken yet.
- On August 27th, a bill was introduced in New Jersey which would require speed limits on major highways to be set to the speed at which 85% of vehicles actually travel. No actions have been taken on this bill yet.
Money and Finances
- Prison inmates often perform functions for which they would be paid if they weren’t an inmate. New York introduced a bill on August 29th to establish a minimum wage for anyone incarcerated that performs such work, set at $3/hr. No actions have been taken on this bill beyond committee referral.
- An Ohio House Representative introduced a bill on August 23rd which aims to ban the use of state funds to pay for non-disparage agreements. The penalty would be a fine of 1.5x the amount of funds used. No actions have been taken as of this writing.
- Back in February of 2017, California proposed banning collection of DNA from minors without parental consent. This bill languished in the Assembly until this January, when they sent it to the Senate. This one went back and forth a few times but is now heading to Gov. Brown for approval.
- Another one from California, which proposed fining anyone who flew a drone over a state correctional center $500 back in February. The Senate passed it in April, which the Assembly changed when it mid-August. The Senate agreed with the changes and sent it to Mr. Brown on August 24th, who has yet to act.
Animals and Pets
- California used to require impounded puppies and kittens without their mothers be held for 6 days then euthanized unless a shelter requested to take them. AB2791, signed into law August 24th, changed that and now allows them to be released to shelters immediately.
- As of August 30th, the California Senate is sending a bill to the Governor which was introduced in the Assembly back in February that prohibits employers from taking any action against employees who were (or have family members who were) victims of sexual harassment that take time off to obtain relief.
- Everyone has heard stories of kid’s lemonade stands getting shut down due to not having the proper permits. New York introduced a bill to exempt lemonade stands operated by anyone under 16 from permitting requirements on August 8th, which was sent to committee with no further action taken.
- Another California bill on its way to the Governor would allow the creation of a system to allow mail-in voters to track their votes as they move through the system so voters can be sure their vote was counted.
- Since January, New Jersey’s legislature has been debating creating a system whereby vote-by-mail voters can enrolled to automatically receive mail-in ballots for every future election. This bill was signed into law on August 10th.
Education and Child Care
- Illinois changed its policies for in-school suspensions on August 22nd. These programs are now encouraged to employ social workers or mental health professionals who focus on teaching non-violent conflict resolution to those students.
- A lot of stay-at-home parents run what’s known as a family child care program in their home. A bill signed into law August 20th will make it illegal for anyone to smoke in any rooms of a private residence where children are cared for, regardless of whether children are present, if they are licensed for such a program. The law becomes effective November 19th.
- On August 17th, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner approved an exemption from fees charged to generators of radioactive waste for local government entities. The exemption for these fees, which pay for waste treatment, storage, and disposal, has been under debate since February.
IDs and Credentials
- Since the start of the year, Illinois legislators had been debating making certain IDs for the elderly permanent. On August 13th, the Governor approved a bill which made non REAL-ID conforming IDs issued to anyone over 65 permanent, and REAL-ID conforming IDs for anyone over 65 good for 8 years.
See part 1 of this post for law changes related to guns, alcohol, marijuana, drugs, policing and litigation, and the environment.
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