Weird New Laws in 2013

Most new laws passed in Maryland take effect October 1. But around the country, January 1 often marks the usual start of new state laws. Some of them are funny and a little strange.  Here are a few I found in the news this week:

Illinois has three new laws that merit comment. First, they allow motorcycle riders to run red lights. It seems motorcycles often are not heavy enough to trigger ground sensors that switch lights to green. So now, if they wait 2 minutes and the light doesn’t change, they can run the red light.  I wonder how many police will be at red lights with a timer checking up on that 2 minute rule.

Second, Illinois banned the sale of shark fins, even though they are over 1000 miles from the ocean. That one actually isn’t a strange as it sounds, since sharks are killed for their fins and made into soup all over the world.  Presumably, people in Illinois eat shark fin soup too.

Third, Illinois banned the practice of employers asking job applicants for passwords to social media sites so they could snoop on your Facebook account. It is sad we even need such a law, or that anyone would allow that in the first place.

In California, it is now legal for a computer driven car to operate on the public roads. That’s right.  The computer drives. But never fear, there must be a human in the passenger seat who can take over. Maybe I watched the Terminator one too many times, but that still scares me.

Also in California, it is now illegal for a police officer to have sex with an offender while they are transporting him or her to jail. Again, it is almost unbelievable that we even need such a law.  It is already illegal for an officer to have sex with a confined inmate. But apparently there was a case in California last year where an officer had sex with a lady after she was booked for drunk driving, and he argued it was legal because she was not yet “confined”, as she was just being booked on suspicion of drunk driving. His attorney argued she was not yet in jail. Really!?

Kentucky has two good ones. First, they require people recycling copper to get paid by check instead of cash. This is another one that isn’t as strange as it seems. Stealing copper for a quick buck has become an epidemic of sorts. This aims to cut down on that.

But the real show stopper in Kentucky is the change in their state constitution to remove wording giving guidelines on pensions for Confederate soldiers. It certainly is about time they got around to that one!

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