It’s January — a time of credit card debt, resolutions you don’t intend to keep, and new legislation that kicked in at the turn of the calendar. What laws are going to be making your life better — or worse — in 2016? Let’s take a look.
Hey, I’m kind of worried about getting shot.
California. Some Californians are worried about that, too. That’s why a new law extends an existing ban on firearms in and around schools, which now includes people with concealed weapons permits. Another new law allows people to ask the court to take weapons away from relatives who they think might be a threat to others, in response to the shooting rampage by Elliot Rodger in 2014.
Texas. Licensed gun owners will now be allowed to carry their handguns openly in public places, as long as the guns are in holsters. (Starting in August, licensed gun owners will, in some circumstances, be allowed to carry concealed at public and private universities.)
Virginia. Under a law going into effect February 1, the commonwealth will no longer accept concealed carry permits from 25 states that, they say, have less strict licensing laws than Virginia.
I meant by police.
Connecticut. Several new laws address the way law enforcement units regulate their officers and interact with their communities.
– One new law prohibits law enforcement from hiring an officer who was fired or resigned from another unit due to misconduct; makes an officer’s employer liable if the officer interferes with a person taking photos or video of them performing duties; and requires that the state’s attorney appoint a prosecutor from another district for cases involving use of force or deadly force by a police officer.
– Another new law requires the state to issue regulations and distribute grants for the use of body cameras, which will be required equipment on state police officers starting July 1.
– Another new law requires law enforcement units to develop and implement hiring guidelines so that the unit’s racial and ethnic diversity resembles that of the community it serves.
– And another another new law requires that law enforcement units keep a record of non-training incidents in which an officer fires his or her weapon.
Illinois. Illinois officers will be prohibited from using chokeholds, except for self-defense, and training will be expanded to include topics like use of force. Any officer-involved deaths will trigger an independent review, and a database will be created of officers who have been fired or resigned due to misconduct.
Rhode Island. Police will be prohibited from searching juveniles and pedestrians without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
What about domestic abuse?
Alabama. New Alabama laws provide protection and assistance to domestic violence victims and clarify definitions of domestic assault and dating relationships. They also create a Domestic Violence Trust Fund to fund domestic violence centers in Alabama.
New York. A new law outlaws housing discrimination against domestic violence victims. And a law taking effect in April will create a pilot program allowing domestic violence victims to seek temporary restraining orders electronically, without having to appear in person.
Oregon. New laws increase the penalty for violating domestic violence restraining orders, allow use of sick leave or personal leave for domestic abuse treatment, and prevent someone with a restraining order or certain domestic abuse convictions from having a gun.
Oregon, again. Also in Oregon, new laws double the statute of limitations for rape and other sex crimes; require universities keep written, public procedures for responding to sexual assault; make upskirts and revenge porn illegal; and create a fund to help stop child sex trafficking. It’s a big year for Oregon.
More Illinois. A new Illinois law pauses the statute of limitations while sexual assault evidence is collected, submitted, and analyzed. Another prevents hospitals and health care professionals from ever billing a sexual assault victim for treatment.
New York. A new law toughens penalties for human trafficking of men, women, and children.
California. In California, a new law establishes “yes means yes” as the standard for consent taught in high school health classes.
Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, courts are now allowed to terminate the parental rights of a convicted rapist, if they think the child might be in danger in in the rapist’s custody. A court also can remove the rapist’s full, partial, or supervised access to a child conceived by rape — a rape victim wouldn’t be forced to share custody with her rapist.
Believe it or not, I kind of rely on my paycheck.
Go figure, right?
California. Female employees are now allowed to allege pay discrimination, in which case the employer is required to prove that a man’s higher paycheck is based on factors other than gender.
New York. A new law requires that women be paid equal to men, and any difference in pay must be based on a job-centered factor like education, training, or experience.
I’m L, G, B, T, and/or Q.
California. A new law ensures that when a transgender youth is placed in a foster home, it has to be in a home where they feel safe and free from ridicule.
Illinois. New Illinois law declares conversion therapy illegal. Another law updates the definition of “sexual orientation” in hate crime-related statutes to include actual or perceived LGBT status.
Washington. Businesses are now prohibited from limiting access to gender-specific facilities like bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms based on genitalia, and dictates that students be allowed to use the restroom and locker room that corresponds with their gender identity.
I have a uterus that I’d like to keep under my own control.
Yeah, best of luck with that.
Arkansas. Physicians administering medical abortions are now required to have an agreement with another provider who has admitting privileges at a hospital. The new law also outlaws telemedicine for medical abortions, and requires providers to follow FDA protocol for prescribing that’s outdated and varies from evidence-based best medical practices. (The good news is that a federal judge has temporarily blocked the ban following a Planned Parenthood lawsuit.) Not suspended, unfortunately, is a new law requiring notarized parental consent for a minor to get an abortion. However, last week the Supreme Court overturned Arkansas’s 2013 ban on abortions after 12 weeks if a heartbeat is detected. So it’s not all bad in Arkansas where reproductive rights are concerned. Just, y’know, mostly bad.
California. A new law requires any licensed facility offering pregnancy-related services to distribute or clearly post information about where women can get low-cost contraceptives, prenatal care, and abortions. This is to crack down on “crisis pregnancy centers” that offer misleading information.
Oregon. One new law paves the way for pharmacists to dispense birth control pills to women over 18 without a prescription. Another requires that insurance providers that cover prescription contraceptives also cover refills.
New York. New laws outlaw workplace discrimination based on pregnancy or family status. Pregnancy-related medical issues are to be treated as a temporary disability, and employers must provide reasonable breaks and space for pumping.
North Carolina. North Carolina physicians will be required to provide the state with ultrasounds and measurements for abortions performed after that 16th week. For abortions after the 20th week, physicians will have to explain to the state how the pregnancy threatened the life and health of the mother.
Texas. A minor petitioning the court to waive parental consent requirements can now do so only in her county of residence, and she has to appear in person. Then the court has five days (instead of two days, as under previous law) to respond. The court can also order a mental health evaluation and provide her with state-published counseling materials.
Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s newest law bans abortions after 20 weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest, or severe fetal abnormalities. The law also requires that doctors inform women of the probably gestational age of the fetus and its statistical probability for survival if it were to be delivered, and that they provide abortion counseling materials that include information on perinatal hospice services.
How did your state do? And let’s be honest here: Did you really expect them to do any better?