New laws OK wine shipments, ban tiger selfies

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Thursday, January 1, 2015
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A judge's gavel inside a courtroom.
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New state laws taking effect Thursday give livestock in California more living room, approve direct-to-consumer wine shipments in Massachusetts and levy the ultimate punishment on wannabe teen drivers in Nevada by denying them licenses if they skip too much school.

Other laws will allow trained school personnel in Tennessee to administer insulin, let Louisiana teens as young as 16 register to vote, crack down on meth dealers in Michigan, end tax breaks for Hollywood in North Carolina and raise the minimum wage in Ohio, New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere.

Although it doesn't take effect until early February, a New York law captures this year's "Who knew?" prize by banning tiger selfies, which have been used by young men as profile photos on social media sites.

A look at some of the new laws taking effect Jan. 1, in alphabetical order by topic:



Wine connoisseurs will be popping the cork over a new law taking effect Thursday that allows out-of-state wineries to ship bottles directly to consumers in Massachusetts. The drive for direct wine shipments had been stalled for years before getting a big boost from former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Now a winemaker in Washington state, Bledsoe complained to lawmakers he could not send his products to Massachusetts residents, including fans and former teammates like current Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.



In California, a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008 takes effect restricting the confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding sows and veal calves. The Humane Society of the United States says the law goes further than any in the country when coupled with a law signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that extends the space requirements for egg-laying hens to out-of-state suppliers.

In Utah, cities and towns can no longer ban specific dog breeds within their limits. At least 10 cities now have restrictions that ban ownership of breeds such as pit bulls.



In California, a "yes means yes" standard for sex between college students takes effect, requiring "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity," meaning silence or a lack of resistance can no longer be deemed consent.

In Michigan, rape evidence may be better organized and tracked under laws designed to help ensure kits aren't caught in the sort of backlog found when more than 11,000 untested boxes were discovered in a Detroit Police storage facility in 2009.

In Louisiana, law enforcement agencies must provide a tally of the number of untested rape kits on their shelves by Thursday, part of a law that took effect in August.

In Tennessee, ex-felons who have turned their lives around can now receive a certificate of employability, which gives businesses who hire such individuals protection from negligent hiring lawsuits.



In Michigan, buying cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making methamphetamine will be illegal under another series of measures intended to crack down on meth makers. The laws also prohibit asking someone to buy the ingredients and require state police to add meth offenders to a national database.



In Louisiana, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to register to vote when obtaining a driver's license, though they still won't be able to vote until they turn 18.

In North Carolina, individuals filing as a candidate in a party primary must have had an affiliation with that party for at least 90 days before filing a candidacy notice.

A Delaware law establishes new rules for allocating campaign contributions among joint account holders, such as when spouses submit a political contribution using a single check.



In North Carolina, home sellers will have to disclose whether they know if underground oil and gas rights have been sold.

In New York State, consumers must begin recycling old computers, televisions and video game consoles instead of throwing them in the trash.

In the face of a three-year drought, new California laws require water districts and other local entities to develop plans to manage their groundwater and allow the state to intervene if necessary.



Tennessee joins more than 20 states adding insulin to medications that school staff may volunteer to be trained to administer. Proponents said it will help in an era of dwindling school nurses, while opponents say only someone with a medical background should give insulin in case something unexpected happens.

In Louisiana, smoking will be banned within 25 feet of public entrances to state office buildings, as a way to lessen exposure to secondhand smoke.



In North Carolina, the state Wildlife Resources Commission faces new restrictions on how high it can raise fees on hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Starting with the new year, the fees can't be raised beyond a widely used measure of inflation averaged over the previous five years.



In California, drivers' licenses will be available for people in the country illegally.

In Nevada, students who are declared habitually truant could be delayed from obtaining a driver's license, or could have their license suspended.

In Florida, all children aged 4 and 5 will be required to sit in a child safety seat or booster seat instead of using just a car seat belt.

In Indiana, license plates will be required on motor scooters for the first time following complaints about unsafe driving by those who've lost their licenses because of drunken driving arrests or other offenses.

In Michigan, lawmakers closed a loophole so motorcyclists can no longer buy a temporary permit every riding season without taking a safety or skills test needed for a full endorsement.

Massachusetts will finally allow "hold open" clips on pumps at self-service gasoline stations, ending motorists' complaints - particularly in winter - about being in one of the few states where the clips weren't allowed.

In Utah, police will be required to impound the vehicles of uninsured drivers instead of just having the option to do so.



In New York in February, it becomes illegal to pose for a photo with a lion, tiger or other big cat. The measure, which specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows, passed after self-portraits with the animals started becoming more popular online, particularly with some young men on dating sites.



In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers who approved an income tax cut also took away breaks to Hollywood and cab drivers. Expiring is a 25 percent tax credit for TV and film productions that in 2013 allowed producers to forego paying $61 million in state taxes. It's being replaced in 2015 by a grant program for video productions capped at $10 million.

In Virginia, drivers can expect to see a 5 cents-per-gallon increase in the cost of gas, while Maryland's gas tax is set to rise about 3.5 cents.

In Mississippi, totally disabled veterans and their surviving spouses who have not remarried would not have to pay property taxes on their primary residence.



In Nebraska, vets and the spouses of fully disabled veterans will receive a hiring preference when applying for jobs in state or local government.



The minimum wage goes up Thursday in several states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A wage increase in New York takes effect Wednesday. In addition, troopers in Oklahoma get their first pay raise in seven years.



In Pennsylvania on Jan. 5, a law takes effect that's designed to give the National Rifle Association, or any gun owner, a better chance at successfully challenging local firearms ordinances in court. In general, Pennsylvania bars its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that are stronger than state law. But the NRA has complained that dozens of local ordinances go unchallenged in Pennsylvania courts by residents who can prove it harmed them.

In California, law enforcement agencies are required to develop policies that encourage officers to search the state's database of gun purchases as part of routine welfare checks. The bill was prompted by sheriff's deputies' failure to detect the danger posed by a man who weeks later embarked on a deadly rampage in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara.



In Tennessee, as part of welfare eligibility, a parent or guardian with a child struggling in a school must attend two or more conferences with the teacher within a year to review the child's status.