With the new year comes new legislation. When 2011 began, numerous provisions in federal laws governing health care and credit cards took effect, as did around 31,000 new state laws covering everything from text messaging to trash recycling. Here, five things that new laws say you aren't allowed to do in your state anymore:
1. Impersonating someone online in California
The act of impersonating a person online in the state of California is now subject to criminal penalties, reports Susana Polo in Geekosystem. Though this measure is ostensibly designed to tackle identity theft, the bill carries freedom of speech implications. Notably, it fails to address "satiric or parodic impersonations," meaning that Twitter comedians such as Fake Steve Jobs or BP Public Relations might run afoul of the law.
2. Driving past an emergency vehicle without moving over in New York
New York State's "Move Over Act" came into force on New Year's Day, making it an offense to fail to change lanes — provided it's possible to do so safely — when driving past a parked law enforcement or emergency vehicle with its sirens sounding and lights flashing. New York was the 48th state to enact such a law; only Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., still don't penalize those who neglect to move over.
3. Text messaging while driving in Kentucky
Put away that cell phone when behind the wheel. Kentucky, Kansas, and Delaware joined the two dozen states that have already banned the sending of text messages while driving. This "increasingly common technological scourge" is being targeted by a growing number of lawmakers, says The Wall Street Journal.
4. Dumping computers in Indiana
In a push to increase recycling rates, Indiana has banned the dumping of "e-waste" — that is, computer monitors, televisions, and other electronic devices. New Jersey has joined the state in a ban, and Pennsylvania and New York are considering following suit. Approximately 65 percent of Americans are now subject to e-waste laws, says Amy Dusto at Discovery.
5. Smoking K2 in Illinois
A recreational, pot-like drug known as K2 or Spice has been hauled off the shelves in Illinois. The drug is laced with psychotropic ingredient THC and produces a similar high to marijuana when smoked. It was banned after being blamed for a spate of hospitalizations in the state. Herb enthusiasts, however, can enjoy the loosening of marijuana possession laws in California. On Jan. 1, the possession of less than a single ounce of marijuana in the state was downgraded from a misdemeanor to an infraction — a penalty that does not involve arrest.