While ringing in the new year, its tradition to sing “Auld Lang Syne,” perhaps after a midnight kiss. It’s a bit ironic that this song has become a New Years Eve tradition, because the title actually means “old long ago.”
In contrast, the new year is usually considered a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, and the legal world is no different. The first day of a new year is a day that new laws will take effect across the country. Here’s what you can expect in 2020 in the South and across the country.
You must now be 21 to buy tobacco products.
In December 2019, President Trump signed spending legislation that included the new restriction. While these laws usually take some time to go into effect, on December 20, 2019 the FDA updated its website to say the law was now effective.
Federal tax credits phasing out for some popular electric vehicles.
Because these tax credits are only available for the first 200,000 of each model purchased, some of the credits available for the most popular models are beginning to run out. Meanwhile, states across the country are introducing fees for electric vehicle owners to replace revenue lost from gas taxes.
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New car seat regulations.
The new law toughens requirements about how long children must ride in a car seat. Using a combination of height, weight, and age guidelines, the rules require children who have outgrown one type of seat to continue to use another model as they grow.
Minimum age to marry is now 16.
Louisiana previously did not have a minimum age to marry. Under this new law, the minimum age is now 16. Minors 16 or older will have to have the permission of their parents and a judge, and the person they are marrying cannot be three or more years older than them.
Expungement fees reduced for multiple offenses.
Under the new rule, if a person applying for an expungement has two or more offenses resulting from the same arrest, the person only needs to pay one fee.
Medical marijuana patients may use inhalers.
When medical marijuana became legal in Louisiana in August 2019, the state approved the use of inhalers similar to those used by asthmatics, as well as liquids, pills, topical creams, and oils.
Active shooter drills now required in schools.
In response to a task force recommendation, the Mississippi School Safety Act requires schools to have at least two active shooter drills a year, within 60 days of the beginning of a new semester.
New protections for business and landowners.
This new law makes it nearly impossible to hold landowners liable when someone is injured by the criminal act of a third party while on the property, for example, when someone is mugged in a business parking lot. The law insulates land owners from liability for someone else’s actions unless they directly played a part in the criminal act.
Increased funds for drivers’ services.
The legislature approved a $3.3 million increase for drivers’ services, partially in response to complaints about long lines.
Electric cooperatives now allowed to provide broadband internet services.
Although this law went into effect in 2019, citizens can expect to begin to see the impact of the new regulation as electric cooperatives begin to enter the business of providing broadband internet to rural areas.
Online vehicle insurance verifications beginning in 2020.
The new system will allow law enforcement officers to verify drivers’ insurance status in real time. Previously, officers relied on data that could be up to 30 days old.
Government funding for human cloning research is banned.
This new law mandates that state educational institutions are not allowed to do any human cloning for research purposes, nor can they engage in anything that would result in the destruction of an embryo, including stem cell research. This law does not apply to in vitro fertilization.
Approved tow facilities can now tow heavy duty vehicles for law enforcement.
When a tow facility passes safety inspections and demonstrates compliance with state and federal laws, Act 1063 allows the facility to tow heavy duty motor vehicles for law enforcement purposes.
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Gas tax increases another two cents.
In addition to a six cent increase in late 2019, the gas tax will increase another two cents in 2020 and again in 2021.
All vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt.
Under the new law, everyone in the car must be wearing a seatbelt, regardless of how old the person is or where they are sitting in the vehicle.
Anti Road Rage Act.
This law applies mostly to interstates, where is restricts drivers from using the left lane simply or travel. Under this law, drivers have a mile and a half to use the left lane to pass slower drivers and then they must return to the right lane, unless other circumstances such as construction prevent that.