A New Year Brings New Laws

(CBS/AP) A New Year brings new laws across the United States.

Some new laws are prompted by how we use technology. For example, in California it's now illegal to read-or-write text messages while driving.

Some people support the new law:

"Texting is more dangerous than talking on the phone," one person told CBS News correspondent Dan Raviv, saying that texters are "not even looking at the road!"

California also has a law against "school bullying" done by the Internet.

A new law going into effect in Arkansas (which was approved by voters in November) bans unmarried couples from adopting children or becoming a becoming a foster parent.

Many supporters of Act One argued that children shouldn't be raised by an unmarried couple, although critics suggested the law was geared primarily toward homosexuals who sought to become foster or adoptive parents.

One Fayetteville couple, Anne Shelley and Dr. Robin Ross, said the new law means their adopted four-year old daughter, a Vietnamese orphan named Eva Mae, will grow up an only child, something they say isn't right.

Shelley said this new law will mean an even greater shortage of homes for needy children.

According to the Department of Human Services, one-third of the 1,100 foster homes in the state are headed by single people.

Oregon joins California, Washington and other states that ban smoking in bars. And if smokers going through withdrawal wanted to dine out on some polyunsaturated fats instead, Oregon blocked that too, with a ban on restaurant foods with trans-fats.

In Illinois, outdoor fitness facilities will be required to have defibrillators. The law was named after Northwestern University football player Rashidi Wheeler, who collapsed and died during a 2001 practice. An investigation found that a defibrillator would have saved him.

Also beginning Thursday, eating disorders will be legally considered "serious mental illnesses" in Illinois, allowing people with the conditions to obtain insurance coverage. The state legislature overruled Gov. Rod Blagojevich's amendatory veto of the legislation to approve the bill in September.

One law not named after Gov. Blagojevich (but wags suggest it might have been) is a prohibition against contractors with $50,000 or more in state contracts from contributing to the officeholder who oversees the deal.

Legislators made no secret that it was aimed at alleged "pay-to-play" practices in Blagojevich's administration, some of which prosecutors were scrutinizing for years before the latest allegations.

Other new Illinois laws include barring employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of genetic testing; further restricting the movements of sexual offenders and preventing them from working as election judges; increasing penalties for people found guilty of possessing child pornography; and extending the time victims may report sexual assault to three years.

In Florida, a handful of new laws include one that gives hospital patients improved consumer protection. It requires hospitals and health care facilities to give patients a good-faith estimate of anticipated charges for planned procedures if requested. They must also post notices in reception areas advising patients how they can get information on charity and discount policies.

Another new measure requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to compile data on the non-discounted costs of some 150 common procedures and diagnostic treatments for comparison purposes.

Another is designed to get better dental service for poor and rural areas.

In Oklahoma only "fire-safe" cigarettes designed to prevent fires will be sold in the state beginning today.

In Georgia, new tax laws will eliminate the state and local taxes for insurance carriers that offer high-deductible health plans. Critics argue that the new law will do little to reduce the ranks of the state's uninsured, but insurers are expected to save up to $146 million over the next five years.

In West Virginia, the business franchise tax and the corporate net income tax rates are both being lowered. Businesses can also get tax credits for creating jobs that are full-time, pay at least $32,000 a year and offer health benefits.

In New York two dozen new laws take effect Thursday. A utility law allows more residents and farmers to send surplus energy produced by wind, solar or other onsite power generating systems to utilities for sale to other customers. If a customer sends more power than they use in a year, the utility pays them for the balance.

Another measure restricts the use of certain anabolic steroids on thoroughbred and harness racing horses. The law restricts the use of four steroids (stanozolol, boldenone, nandrolone and Testosterone) approved by the federal government for therapeutic use on animals. The state law allows using only one of the steroids - often used to help an animal heal from injury - at any one time. The permissible level of each steroid was also reduced.

Among the other new laws: Registration for the state's organ and tissue donor registry will be included on voter enrollment forms.

And in New Hampshire, peeing in public has become costly. The new law makes public urination or defecation a violation punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.

To be guilty, the person would have to know the act would affront or alarm someone else.

The legislation was meant to correct a gap in current law in which public urination was sometimes prosecuted under indecent exposure laws, which could land urinators on a sex offender registry.

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