New Year Brings New Laws to States The start of the New Year means new laws go into effect around the country. Some laws, including changes to the minimum wage, are serious. Others, however, seem silly.
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New Year Brings New Laws to States

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New Year Brings New Laws to States

New Year Brings New Laws to States

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Thousands of new laws go into effect nationwide today. In 18 states, the minimum wage goes up. About a dozen states now will let you shoot to kill when confronted with an armed intruder. And California kicks off a landmark effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Then there are the less momentous. Ohio pet owners are now able to set up trust funds for their animals. And debtors in New Hampshire can no longer be held in servitude to work off a debt.

Here to discuss some of the new laws is reporter Pamela Prah of

Welcome to the program.

Ms. PAMELA PRAH ( Thanks for inviting me.

BRAND: Well, let's go for the serious first. Tell us about the important new laws. What are they?

Ms. PRAH: Well, as you already mentioned, the states enacted higher minimum wages, and that's very important. States got a little frustrated waiting for Congress to act.

BRAND: And so those are around $7-ish an hour?

Ms. PRAH: Yes. In fact, California and Massachusetts, their rates will be $7.50. And the highest rate will be in the state of Washington, which will be $7.92.

BRAND: Pamela, do you see any clear trends analyzing all these new laws that are going into effect today?

Ms. PRAH: It does seem like states are picking up where Congress isn't. Massachusetts' new healthcare law, provisions of it going into effect today. And today in Colorado, all employers must verify that their new hires are here legally. Arizona and Georgia also passed really tough immigration laws in 2006.

BRAND: All right. So tell us about some of the wackier new laws around the country.

Ms. PRAH: Well, there are quite a few. California led the way with one that is called trunking.

BRAND: Trunking.

Ms. PRAH: Yeah.

BRAND: (Unintelligible).

Ms. PRAH: That's what it sounds like, doesn't it? Actually, what the law does is it prohibits trunking. And what that means is that folks can't ride in the trunks of cars. Now, you may automatically wonder well, why would anybody want to do that? Well, I guess trunking has becoming quite popular among teenagers in California.

BRAND: Just for fun or is it -

Ms. PRAH: Well, actually, no. They're trying to get around some California state restrictions on the number of friends that teenagers can have in the car while they are new drivers. So what they've ended up doing is putting some friends in the trunk, hoping they won't get caught. But it's come with tragic results. Some teens have actually been killed in accidents because of that.

BRAND: And some others?

Ms. PRAH: A few involved pets and animals. Ohio became the 35th state, where pet owners can establish trust funds for their pet if the owner dies or becomes ill. Another one is in California, where it's now illegal to tie up your dog to a stationary point for more than three hours, and -

BRAND: Wait. Wait. You can't leave your dog tied up?

Ms. PRAH: Right. For more than three hours at a time.

BRAND: Even in your backyard?

Ms. PRAH: That's what I understand, which is quite unusual.

BRAND: So moving from pets to, let's say, pet projects, we have some interesting laws about rock bands.

Ms. PRAH: That's true. Today, in Illinois, the new law is that bands have to have at least one original member to use the name of the band. For example, if you're going to be the Platters or the Supremes, you have to have one of the original band members in it.

And Mary Wilson of the Supremes was very a big advocate of getting this law passed. Similar laws combating music copycats were enacted in Connecticut, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

BRAND: So all those Led Zeppelin cover bands now have to have their own original name.

Ms. PRAH: That's right.

BRAND: Okay, Pamela Prah of Thank you very much.

Ms. PRAH: Thank you.

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