Pot, Placentas & Paparazzi: New 2014 Laws Run Gamut in U.S.

A host of new laws will take effect across the U.S. in 2014 touching on a range of issues from gun control to placentas.

Some states are making history by leading the way in recreational pot use and transgender rights.  In 2014, Colorado and Washington will be the first states in the nation to allow people to smoke marijuana recreationally. California is making waves by becoming the first state to allow transgender students to choose which restroom to use.

Workers in 13 states will benefit from minimum wage increases that start this week. Lawmakers in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island voted for increases that start at the new year, while California's $1.00 increase will take effect in July. Wage increases tied to inflation will also take place in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

State minimum wages will be higher than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour in 21 states, according to USA Today. Experts say another nine states may top the federal minimum by the end of 2014, marking the first time that the minimum wage in a majority of states will rise above the national level.

Here is a look at notable state and local laws that will take effect in 2014:


COLORADO, MAINE AND WASHINGTON: Colorado pot stores open Jan. 1 as retailers usher in the nation's first legal recreational pot industry. Sales in Washington, which also legalized recreational marijuana, are expected to start later in the year. The laws still fly in the face of federal drug rules, but the federal government has said it's not going to fight to shut down pot shops -- for now. A law legalizing recreational marijuana went into effect in early December in Portland, Maine, but it's largely symbolic because the state has said it will continue to enforce its own ban.

ILLINOIS: It becomes the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana in a pilot project with some of the strictest standards in the nation. However, it may take more than a year to actually buy marijuana as separate state agencies draft rules that must be approved by a legislative committee.

WISCONSIN: Towns and cities may legalize pedal pubs, multiple-person bicycles that ferry riders to and from taverns. A driver steers while multiple riders sit at a bar mounted behind the driver, each passenger with his or her own pedal-and-chain assembly.


DELAWARE: The sale, possession or distribution of shark fins is prohibited starting Jan. 1.

OREGON: Mothers can take home their placentas from the hospital. Some health experts believe that ingesting the placenta has health benefits that include balancing hormones, boosting milk production and replenishing lost nutrients after childbirth.

MAINE: A law that takes effect on Jan. 1 requires an organ donor option on driver's licenses to promote organ donation. Maine is the 48th state to enact such a law.


CALIFORNIA: Photographers who harass celebrities and their children face tougher penalties under a law backed by actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, who testified in favor of it. Berry told lawmakers her daughter had been intimidated by aggressive photographers who followed them daily. Those who take photos and video of a child without consent and in a harassing manner could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. They also can be sued for damages and attorney's fees under the new law, which media organizations opposed. Supporters said it also will help protect the children of police officers, judges and others who might be targets because of their parents' occupations.


COLORADO: 16-year-olds can preregister to vote, but they still need to wait until they're 18 to cast a ballot.

ARKANSAS: Voters in 2014 must bring a state or federal photo ID to the polls. Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Kansas have the similar laws in effect.

VIRGINIA: Voters will, for the first time, be able to register to vote online.


CALIFORNIA: It becomes the first state to give specific rights to transgender students starting in January unless opponents seeking to overturn the law show they have gathered enough petition signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. California will let transgender students choose which restroom to use and whether to play on boys' or girls' sports teams. Critics say the law violates the privacy of other students.


CONNECTICUT: Guns that are considered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines that haven't been registered with Connecticut authorities will be considered illegal contraband as of Jan. 1. The law was passed in April in response to the massacre that left 26 people dead at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School.

NEW YORK: The state's new gun law, passed shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, already banned high-capacity magazines and the purchase or sale of popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. By April 15, New York will also require registration of weapons now classified as assault weapons by owners who bought the guns when they were legal.


NEVADA: Immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission can apply for driver authorization cards starting Jan. 2. State officials anticipate tens of thousands of people will apply under the program.

MARYLAND: In a program similar to Nevada's, immigrants living in the U.S. illegally will be able to obtain a state driver's license or identification card if they can provide evidence of a filed Maryland income tax return or were claimed as a dependent for each of the preceding two years.


MAINE: Health care providers will have to provide patients who request it a list of prices of the most common health services and procedures, a law designed to boost transparency around medical costs.

DELAWARE: The state will limit patient copays for "specialty tier" prescription drugs to $150 a month for up to a 30-day supply.


OHIO: The minimum wage for untipped employees rises from $7.85 to $7.95 an hour, while tipped employees will go from $3.93 to $3.98 an hour, plus tips.

Minimum wage increases will also take effect on Jan.1 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

CALIFORNIA: The minimum wage is being boosted to $9 an hour starting in July, the first of two dollar-an-hour boosts that will push the base minimum wage to $10 by 2016, making it one of the nation's highest minimums. Under another bill, domestic workers will have to be paid time and a half if they work more than nine hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week; baby sitters are exempt.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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