New Year rings in new laws for gays, web privacy, bears

January 1, 2013

Keep Your Laws Off My Kids
Employers and college officials in several states no longer can ask people to pony up their Facebook passwords. Drivers in Florida earn the right to warn fellow motorists of cops lurking around the bend. And folks in California cannot let their dogs chase bears or bobcats “at any time,” even for hunting.

These are a few of the protections, prohibitions and privileges that kick in Tuesday, when states welcome 2013 with laws that range from the headline-grabbing to the mundane. Lawmakers in all but four states met for regular sessions in 2012, enacting more than 400 bills that take effect New Year’s Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Leading the pack are voter-driven same-sex marriage laws in Maine and Maryland.

In Maine, same-sex couples could marry as of Saturday. Portland’s city hall opened for business at 12:01 a.m., Bangor opened its doors at 6 a.m., and residents of other municipalities had to wait until Monday or after the New Year’s holiday, according to gay-rights advocates.

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