A new year means new laws.
As 2017 approaches a close, people are jotting down their resolutions, but 2018 will bring more than just promises to do better in the coming year.
Here are just a few state laws slated to take effect when the clock hits midnight on Jan. 1:
New legislation in Pennsylvania will allow for residents to purchase “consumer” fireworks — which includes novelties like “ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “toy caps” and “display fireworks” — without a permit. But the real bang is the 12% sales tax revenue slated to accompany such purchases.
Pennsylvanians will only be allowed to set off fireworks on private property. They cannot use them in cars, shoot them into cars, at a building or another person. Those who do will face a $100 fine.
A portion of the sales tax revenue earned through the hefty 12% tax is slated to go toward emergency medical services for firefighter training.
Guns and Ammunition
Thousand people gathered in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve Countdown Event on Saturday December 31/2016 in Times Sq, Manhattan.12/31/2016ManhattanGo Nakamura for New York Daily News
(Go Nakamura/New York Daily News)
California will see a series of stricter gun control laws after the ball drops on New Year’s, among them new restrictions on purchasing ammunition.
Starting in January, people will have to purchase ammunition through a licensed vendor. Even those ordering online will have to have it shipped to an appropriate vendor and then pick up their purchases in person.
Separate legislation will repeal a policy which previously allowed school officials to decide whether or not their staff should be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus. Now, all firearms will be banned on school property.
And those convicted of a hate crime in California will lose their right to own a gun for 10 years, according to Assembly Bill 725.
Pets in Illinois will be treated more like children in divorce cases this year.
(Photo by Marcelo Maia/Getty Images)
An Illinois law set to go into effect on Jan. 1 will allow for a judge to decide who gets to take home the family pet in the event of divorce.
The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes, is intended for pets to be treated more like family and less like property. Under previous law, animals were treated like furniture — divided between former couples as part of the value of their overall estate.
Divorcing couples instead will have to prove who will be the better owner. An Animal rights attorney told WGNTV the judge will consider who typically handles day-to-day pet care.
Alaska earlier this year became the first state to adopt similar legislation.
Authorities in Colorado will now be able to recommend charges in teen sexting cases.
Under previous law, authorities in Colorado were required to report students exchanging sexually explicit photographs — even if they’re doing so consensually — for sexual exploitation of a child. The charge comes with heavy penalties including potential registry as a sex offender.
A state law slated to go into effect at the start of the New Year will instead offer officials additional options in how to handle students caught sexting. While they will still have to report the sexting, officers will be able to recommend charges to the district attorney’s office, which will ultimately have the final say.
Additional punishments available under the legislations include classes where students learn about the dangers of exchanging nude images to misdemeanor charges.
Recording violent crimes
Those who record violent crimes in California could face harsher penalties in 2018.
The era of Facebook Live and Snapchat has resulted in scores of tragedies, crimes and fights streaming across social media for the world to see. But thanks to a new law in California, those behind the camera could be in for harsher punishments and penalties in the coming year.
According to legislation slated to take effect in 2018, a judge will be able to determine additional consequences for anyone who “willfully recorded a video of the commission of a violent felony.” It was inspired by an attack last year on a California teen, which was captured on video and then shared to Snap Chat.
Jordan Peisner, 14, was hospitalized with a fractured skull and a bleeding eardrum after being sucker-punched outside a Wendy’s. A girl followed Jordan throughout the attack and then posted it on the photo-sharing app.