Each year, thousands of new laws get generated by our beloved congressmen, further adding to an already over-burdened society. Instead, each year legislators should erase thousands of existing laws! This would be a giant step towards restoring true justice in our U.S. legal system. During this year, 898 new state laws will be going into effect in California alone. This number, of course, neglects new local and federal laws that will also affect Californians. Below is a sampling of the many laws that are being enacted in three different states across the nation.
Cellphones Use While Driving: People will no longer be able to legally use a handheld phone or wireless electronic device while driving, unless it is mounted on the vehicle windshield or dashboard not blocking the driver's view.
Assault Weapons: Gun owners of guns with magazines that hold more than ten rounds must give them up starting July 1.
Law Enforcement Officers’ Handgun Storage: Law enforcement officers will be required to follow the same rules as civilians by securely storing handguns in a lockbox out of plain view or in the trunk if weapons are left in an unattended vehicle. We are curious: who in the world is going to enforce this one?
Sexual Assault Clarification: Sexually assaulting an unconscious or severely intoxicated person will become a crime ineligible for probation. SB 2888 clarifies that a victim cannot consent to sex while unconscious or incapacitated by drugs, alcohol or medication. Here’s a nice, nebulous statute. What exactly is the definition of "incapacitated by....medication?"
Powdered Alcohol: There is such a thing, believe it or not. SB 819 will make it illegal to possess, sell, make, or use the product.
Drinking at Salons: Beginning January 1, beauty salons and barber shops will be allowed to serve free wine or beer to their clients until 10 p.m. Of the ones we've seen, this is possibly the only sensible law. It's a "do," not a "don't."
Gender-Neutral Bathrooms: Beginning March 1, all single-user toilet facilities in any business or public place will need to be all-gender facilities.
Homeless Students at Community College: Any community college campuses with shower facilities on campus must allow homeless students who are enrolled, paid, and in good standing to use the facilities. This falls into the category of having a law that requires every living person be breathing. There should be no law for this.
Human Trafficking: People less than eighteen years old cannot be charged with prostitution under SB 1322. Instead, they will be treated as victims. This is one of several human-trafficking bills that include raising the age children can testify outside a courtroom from thirteen to fifteen years of age, protecting the victims’ names from disclosure, and mandating that they have access to county services.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting: It wasn't previously illegal, but it wasn't defined as legal either. The new law makes sure lane splitting must be done safely. CHP said it would work with motorcycle organizations to define what is and isn't proper when riding between cars. On its face, this truly sounds like another idiotic, nebulous law.
Juvenile Interrogations: Boys and girls under age fifteen who are charged with a serious crime must be represented by counsel during interrogations. The commentary seen for this one is great: “Young people are easily coerced,” says Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation. “They don’t always understand what the consequences of an action may be. Time after time we find that young people think it’s OK for them to say they did something even if they didn’t because they think that the consequences of them having said that they did it will not be very serious.” Her statement implies that it is perfectly fine for adults to give false confessions.
Prison vs. Probation: Judges must explain why they’re choosing to put someone in prison for a crime that would allow them to release an offender on probation. "Imprisoning low-level offenders is not an effective use of resources, and could have a 'criminogenic effect' — turning casual offenders into career criminals," as stated by one observer. The problem is that the system benefits from criminalizing people. This gem certainly sounds like it will open the door to corruption even further.
'Stingray' Cell Phone Trackers: Police must now obtain a warrant before using cell site simulators, often referred to by the brand name “Stingray.” The portable devices pretend they’re ordinary cell phone towers, tricking mobile phones into connecting and sharing location. Police are already required to obtain warrants for other actions, but have found alternate ways over this hurdle.
Tampon Tax: Women won’t pay taxes on feminine hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary napkins. Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, and Chicago Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi, sponsored the legislation.
Employee Sick Leave: Employers that offer sick leave to employees will now have to allow employees to use it to care for family members, including their parents or in-laws. This seems like another law that really doesn’t need to be a law.
FOID Card Revocation: This law is intended to ensure that residents who have had their license to own a gun in the state revoked don’t have access to firearms. There are so many laws in place that overlap this one, it seems redundant.
Notification of next of Kin of Death of Inmate: Yet another law that seems it should be dictated by common sense rather than law. This new law declares that the state corrections department provide information to emergency contacts, often family members, of inmates who die while in custody.
Pets Can Be Buried in Human Cemeteries: Some cemeteries for humans will now be able to bury pets alongside their owners. The bill's sponsor said cemetery personnel were increasingly being approached by pet owners wishing to be buried with their animals. The bill required cemeteries that allowed such burials to provide a list of charges that they would impose and to deposit those payments into the cemetery's permanent maintenance cost. Once again, no law should be needed for this.
No More Misbranding Escolar or Oilfish as Tuna: This bill prohibits mislabeling of escolar, mackerel, or oilfish as tuna, white tuna, or albacore tuna by food stores, wholesalers, restaurants, or elsewhere. In 2013, the nonprofit organization Oceana found that 59 percent of the "tuna" Americans ate is not tuna. Instead, it is often one of the two species named in the bill. While this law certainly sounds great, this deception should already be covered by existing false advertising and fraud laws.
New Farm Vehicles Can Use Highways: This bill remedies a minor oversight that cost farmers unnecessary fees for transporting new farming equipment. Farm vehicles can currently only travel on public highways for fewer than twenty-five miles, and only if they are going to a landfill, repair shop, or another farm. This bill now also lets farm vehicles travel on public highways right after they've been sold, saving farmers extra transportation fees. Still another law that should not have had to have been passed.
Machetes Weapons under the Law: Machetes are now included in the list of weapons under the misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree statute. Next will be the Ginsu knife, followed by the plastic spoon.
16-Year-Olds Can Donate Organs: With this law, the age will be reduced from eighteen to sixteen years of age for prospective donors.
Posting Human Trafficking Hotline: The bill for this law attempts to notify the public and possible sex trafficking victims of a hotline to alert law enforcement. The bill surmises that more than 10 million people are trafficked worldwide, including more than one million children. Stopping trafficking of any human being is an excellent idea. This illegal, worldwide business is becoming a major problem, but there should be no law requiring posting of a hotline—it should be done automatically.
To learn about more mostly unnecessary laws in your state, now might be an ideal time to search for the ones your legislators have bestowed upon you in 2017. Understand that with so many laws in the land and with the number constantly increasing, it gives government officials more room for selective enforcement. Remember the quote by Tacitus: "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." If for any reason you don’t find that there are enough new laws this year, there is always next year.