When most people think of New Year’s Day, they think of eating black eyed peas, watching football, and maybe indulging in a much-needed brunch. However, January 1 is also a day that new laws go into effect across the country. Across the South, from new auto insurance laws to medical marijuana, here’s what you can expect in 2019.
Domestic Violence & Past Crimes
This law will allow plaintiffs in civil suits claiming domestic violence, family violence, or sexual assault to introduce evidence of the defendant’s past similar crimes at trial.
Vanity Plates: New Additions
This legislation allows a new prestige license plate for “Autism” and another for the Louisiana Motor Transport Association.
Taking PTSD Seriously
Addressing a problem that courts are facing across the country, this law creates a pretrial diversion program to help veterans who have PTSD avoid harsh sentences and find the help they need.
No Tolerance for Sexual Harassment
Possibly in response to the #MeToo movement, this new law will require governmental agencies to create policies that prohibit sexual harassment. The statute also requires these agencies to provide training on preventing sexual harassment annually.
RESOURCE: Louisiana State Legislature
No Insurance? Big Problem!
Under this new law, failing to carry the state minimum motor vehicle liability insurance will be elevated to a criminal offense and not just a civil violation.
Slow Driver? Move Over.
Also called the “Move Over Law,” this statute prohibits automobiles from continuously traveling in the far left lane of a highway with two or more lanes.
Open Container Laws
Good news for people who like to take that drink to go! This new law allows Mississippi municipalities to establish a “leisure recreation district” that permits open containers.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD are now on the list of people with disabilities who are permitted to bring their service animal into a public building.
RESOURCE: Mississippi State Legislature
Insurance Provider License Renewals
This law mandates that insurance providers must complete their continuing education requirements before they can renew their license.
Under this law, if a person has been charged with a DUI but completes some time of diversion or deferment program, that person will still be required to pay a mandatory fee.
RESOURCE: Alabama State Legislature
Arkansas Minimum Wage Hike
Voters approved a plan that increases the $8.50/hour minimum wage to $9.25/hour on January 1. Under this plan, the wage will again increase to $10/hour in 2020 and then $11/hour in 2021.
Over two years after Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana regulations, the state will announce in January 2019 which companies will receive a license to sell medical marijuana. Five companies have announced that they will be ready to grow by this summer.
Buying Tobacco? Gotta be 21!
In Harrison, Arkansas people will now have to be 21 in order to purchase tobacco products or face a $300 fine.
Arkansas Works Program
Adults between 18 and 49 who use state health insurance for low-income individuals will be required to complete 80 hours of either work, school, or volunteering each month.