The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 27, 2012

New laws address gays, children, immigration

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
Associated Press

JEFFERSON — Measures on gay rights and child safety are among the top state laws taking effect at the start of 2013, along with attempts to prevent identity theft and perennial efforts to restrict abortion and illegal immigration.

In many states, new laws take effect on Jan. 1, while in others they do so 90 days after a governor’s signature.

Among other new laws:

 Alabama begins cracking down on the state’s 900,000 uninsured drivers with a new system that allows instant checks by police, license plate offices and the state Revenue Department.A pair of laws in Georgia and Pennsylvania address the shortfalls faced by some states from the cost of unemployment benefits by raising employers’ contributions to unemployment compensation trust funds.

 In New Mexico, drivers registering their car or truck will be able to donate $1 or $5 to a state fund that supports programs and services to veterans.

n In Utah, U.S. military personnel will be exempted from having to pay a full year’s property taxes after their return from 200 days of active duty in any calendar year.

 In Florida, it will no longer be illegal to flash your headlights to warn oncoming drivers that police are lurking on the roadside ahead.

 A California law bans the use of dogs when hunting bobcats or bears, while Wisconsin’s expansion of its hunting seasons in state parks to a month in autumn and another in April was a scaled-back version of a proposal that would have allowed hunting across a seven-month period from mid-October to late May. Residents reacted to the longer proposal with thousands of angry letters and emails.