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  • Don't release the hounds Raft of unusual state laws to take effect 2013

     If you want to stay out of trouble in California, don’t let your dog chase a bear. And don’t get caught releasing feral hogs in Kentucky. New laws prohibiting both of those activities are among the dozens of regulations and changes taking effect in 2013. The new laws cover everything from prohibiting law enforcement officers from having sex with inmates on their way to prison to revising the term “motor vehicle” to exclude swamp buggies.

    More than 200 new laws will be on the books Jan. 1 and while some may seem silly or outdated others like the approval of same-sex marriage in Maryland have garnered national attention over the past year.

    Here’s a glance at some of the new state laws taking effect in 2013:

    --- New York:  Starting next week, selling electronic cigarettes to minors in New York will be illegal. State law already prohibits selling cigars, cigarettes and chewing tobacco to those under 18 and retailers can be slapped with a $1,000 fine if they are caught. Sen. Owen Johnson, R-Babylon, sponsored the measure and says E-cigarettes “have not been proven to be safe for use at any age.” The battery-powered devices are used to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine instead of tobacco smoke. They were initially marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes but some say their candy flavors appeal to minors.

    --- Illinois: Lawmakers in Illinois stayed busy this year. For one, they passed a law that gives motorcyclists the go-ahead to run red lights. Motorcycles and bicycles aren’t usually heavy enough to trigger ground sensors that switch traffic lights from red to green so many two-wheeled motorists stay stuck at intersections and have to wait for a larger vehicle to come. Under the new measure, when a motorcycle comes up to a red light or a left-turn arrow and waits for two minutes or more for the light to change, they will be able to legally proceed if the coast is clear.

    Lawmakers in Illinois also sent a message to snoopy bosses this year after passing a measure that makes it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for passwords to their online profiles on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The law was pushed through after civil liberties groups criticized the practice as an invasion of privacy.
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