[JURIST] A plethora of state laws set to take effect after Friday, New Year's Day, seek to regulate everything from social policy to highway safety. Texting while driving will become illegal [AP report] in Illinois, Oregon, and New Hampshire, which will join nearly twenty other prohibiting states and the federal government [JURIST report]. Georgia will begin administering stiffer fines [AP report] for so called "super speeders." Starting Saturday, North Carolina will no longer allow smoking [JURIST news archive] in bars and restaurants, joining the nearly thirty other states with similar bans in place. Illinois will extend an exemption [State Journal-Register report] on their indoor smoking ban to American Indians during religious practices. Oregon will no longer allow cigarettes to be dispensed [AP report] in vending machines in places where minors are allowed. Additionally, Oregon employers will be not be allowed to prevent employees from wearing religious clothing on the job or taking time off for religious observances.
New Hampshire will become the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] after passing legislation [JURIST report] to that effect earlier this year. In Wisconsin, same and opposite sex unwed couples will be allowed to receive state health insurance benefits. In California, same-sex spouses will be eligible [San Diego Union-Tribune report] for the same benefits available to opposite sex couples so long as they are married in a state recognizing same-sex marriage. Additionally, California will become the first state to ban the use of artificial transfats in restaurants, and will give celebrities greater legal remedy against paparazzi.