New state laws will affect marijuana, voting, shark fins

Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:08am EST
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - "What brand are you smoking?," could become a more routine question among Coloradans in January, when anyone 21 or older will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana from a state-licensed retail store for recreational use.

In Illinois, a new law will prohibit anyone from using a drone - an unmanned aircraft - to interfere with hunters or fishermen. Delaware, meanwhile, is banning the sale of shark fins.

Those are among the nearly 40,000 bills and resolutions approved in U.S. states, commonwealths and territories in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which tracks trends in state laws.


Many new laws take effect January 1. Others will not be implemented until July 1 - the start of many states' fiscal years - or on other dates specified in the bills.

Some laws continue national trends like tighter voting requirements. For example, Arkansas will require voters to present a photo ID at the polling place. Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Kansas already have similar laws on the books. Virginia, however, will allow voters to register online.

Newly issued insurance policies purchased through the U.S. Affordable Care Act's health exchanges will begin covering patients on January 1. New Year's Day also marks the start of Medicaid's coverage expansion in the states that decided to expand it.

On Monday, administration officials continued to encourage uninsured and under-insured Americans to enroll in Obamacare by midnight, saying those who sign up before Christmas Day would be eligible for coverage starting January 1.   Continued...

A man holds a sign referring to Colorado legalizing marijuana with the state capitol dome in the background at the 4/20 marijuana holiday in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking