Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Wrap Up

"Everyone" does it this time of year – looking ahead -- From same-sex marriage in New Hampshire to payday loans in Kentucky, and all kinds in between, new state laws taking effect on New Year's Day stand the chance of affecting the way a lot of people live. Here's an overview of some of those recollections we found so far.

A USAToday article this morning relates:
  • California becomes the first state to bar restaurants from cooking with trans fat — Restaurants will be prohibited from using oils, margarines and shortening containing more than half a gram of trans fat per serving. Violators are subject to $1,000 fines. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law in 2008, giving restaurants more than a year to make the switch. (L.A.Times article)(Text of Law)

  • New Hampshire becomes the fifth state permitting same-sex marriage as a result of legislation signed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch in June. (N.Y.Times article)(Text of Bill)

  • "Kentucky seems to be leading the way" in limiting payday loans, said Meagan Dorsch, spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures. New limits affect the payday loan business, with borrowers now being limited to two loans totaling no more than $500 at any one time. (Bill Text)

  • Illinois becomes one of at least 18 states where it is illegal to send or receive text messages or e-mail while driving. Illinois is also making it illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving in a highway construction zone or school zone, DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba said. "These new laws are important and will make our roads safer for all motorists," he said. (Good overview of state laws )

MSNBC notes:
  • Among the most surprising new laws set to take effect in 2010 is a smoking ban for bars and restaurants in North Carolina -- the nation's largest tobacco producer. Not including Virginia and its partial ban, smoking will be banned in restaurants in 29 states and in bars in 25, according to the American Lung Association. Twelve more states — including Florida, Michigan and Arkansas — have passed laws requiring manufacturers to make their cigarettes less likely to start fires, leaving Wyoming as the only state without such laws, according to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. ( Overview of state laws )

  • Bans on texting while driving go into effect in New Hampshire, Oregon and Illinois. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, that will make 19 states that have outlawed the practice, not including six states that prohibit using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel.

"The new year will bring with it more opportunities for Ohioans to be ticketed and fined, but also some new benefits," another article last week said. Beginning Friday, January 1, Ohioans can be ticketed and fined $100 for failing to turn on their lights when their windshield wipers are on. Law enforcement has only been issuing warnings in the first six months since the law took effect. Ohio is the 17th. state to adopt "lights-on-during-precipitation" laws. (HB 2)

And mention was made in a Cincinnati Enquirer article last weekend about health insurers having new limits on how much they can charge Ohioans with certain pre-existing diseases or chronic conditions, beginning tomorrow. "The new Ohio law will allow about 52,000 more Ohio adults to buy health insurance, according to state Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson," the article said. "The law change set a rate-cap so more Ohioans can buy basic health coverage through the state-mandated Open Enrollment Health Insurance Program. The change is expected to cut premiums in half." (Further information Here)

Robert Ambrogi highlighted some of the more interesting law-related "top 10" lists on's Legal Blog Watch just before Christmas, as well. (Here)

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