– Golf cart horns, efficient light bulbs and the end of happy hour: The 40,000 new laws set to go into effect at midnight (Daily Mail, Dec. 31, 2011):
As the ball drops this New Year’s Day, tens of thousands of new laws are set to be rolled out across the country.
A total of 40,000 state laws, encompassing minimum wages to light bulbs and golf carts, will take effect at the start of 2012.
While some of the laws boost workers’ rights, children’s safety or define school curriculum, others are a little more strange – or extremely specific.
Georgia is imposing new safety requirements on its cities so that drivers can steer their golf carts off the green and onto roads.
Carts must be installed with brakes, reverse warning lights and a horn to be on course to pass the rules.
Bars in Utah will no longer be allowed to sell drink specials, essentially banning happy hour.
In Illinois, motorcyclists will be able to drive through a red light if it fails to change to green after ‘a reasonable length of time’ – an ambiguous measure critics claim could compromise safety.
And in another law, stores across the country will be selling the last of their incandescent 100 watt light bulbs because of a federal law instructing shops to provide more efficient versions instead.
Laws passed during this year’s legislative sessions will come into force on January 1. Others will come into place on July 1.
While some are set to help workers – such as eight states raising the minimum wage – others could shake confidence in an already concerning market.
In Delaware, new state employees will have to contribute more to their pensions while those hired after January 1 in Nevada will have to pay for their own health care costs throughout retirement.
Other laws have caused outrage.
In California, gays and lesbians will be added to the list of social groups whose contributions must be taught in history lessons in public schools.
The law also bans teaching materials that reflect poorly on gays or particular religions.
But opponents have filed a potential initiative to let parents take their children out of the classes in which they learn about the contributions made by gay people and the gay community.
Delaware will legalise civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
The law gives them the same state rights of opposite sex couples who are married, while pointing out marriage is the union between a man and a woman.
Causing less uproar are the laws designed to increase safety for the vulnerable, including children and the elderly.
In Colorado, sports coaches will be required to take players as young as 11 off the field when they could have suffered a head injury. Each year, coaches must also take free online training to recognise the symptoms of a concussion.