It’s July 1, which means new laws are going into effect across the country today. Here are the ones you should know.
Saving the environment, one ban at a time
- New York City will start enforcing its ban on single-use styrofoam containers, which carries a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. The ban will be enforced through health and other inspections.
- Fines for providing single-use plastic straws and stirrers are going into effect in the District of Columbia, although businesses are allowed to keep a small stock for customers with disabilities. The fines could be between $100 and $800.
Paramedics can carry pistols and other gun laws
- In Florida, a new law allows paramedics and physicians to carry guns when responding to situations involving active shooters, hostages or other dangerous scenarios.
- In Indiana, a law provides immunity for the use of force, even by guns, when a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary — even against claims from someone allegedly injured or damaged by such force. The law also allows people to carry guns into churches, even if the church is on school property. The measure was signed onstage at the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership forum in April.
- California became the first state to require gun owners to pass a background check before they can buy ammunition.
Don’t use your phone while driving
- You can now get pulled over for texting while driving in Florida.
- A similar law is being enacted in Tennessee; it will be illegal to read, write or send text messages while driving, record or broadcast a video while driving, watch a video while driving and so on.
Raising the age for buying tobacco
- Virginia is raising its minimum tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21, unless you’re in the military. Illinois raised the minimum age to 21, too.
- In South Dakota, kids won’t have to worry about owing the state for their lemonade stands anymore. The new law dictates that children 18 and under do not have to pay sales taxes when selling personal property or providing a service if they earned less than $1,000. Another new law recognizes O’ceti Sakowin, consisting of the dialects of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota native tribes, as the state’s official indigenous language — making South Dakota just the third state behind Hawaii and Alaska to recognize an official indigenous language.
- Florida now requires jails and prisons to provide incarcerated women with health-care products like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and menstrual products.
- Revenge porn is now a crime in Indiana, punishable by fines or jail time. Victims also can sue people who share sexually explicit or intimate photos of them without their consent.
- Georgia raised the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 17, but only if a 17-year-old is emancipated from their parents. The age difference between the couple can’t be more than four years.