SEATTLE — This part of summer is a time for patriotism. It’s also the time new state laws go into effect across the nation.
Fiscal years begin July 1 on most financial calendars, and a slew of state government spending regulations kick in each year on that date. Policy laws also hit the books in a wave, though states often mark their independence by enacting such legislation on their own time.
Among the laws set to take effect this year around the U.S. are new abortion limits, gun laws and technology rules. And one state, Wyoming, will start setting up a lottery Monday, leaving only a handful of states without a jackpot drawing.
Despite their inability to quickly agree on a state operating budget, Washington state lawmakers managed to pass more than 330 bills. Many of those laws take effect at the end of July. So as you get ready for Fourth of July cookouts and family gatherings, consider this roundup of pending Washington legislation:
• Electronic Proof of Driver’s Insurance: Drivers in Washington will now be able to use their smartphones to prove they have insurance when they get pulled over. The Legislature added electronic proof of driver’s insurance to the list of methods officers can accept proof.
• Social Media Passwords: Lawmakers barred employers from demanding passwords for social media sites like Facebook at the workplace and during job interviews. It also stops employers from making workers friend managers so that their profile is viewable.
• Gender Neutral Language: Washington lawmakers continued their multiyear effort to make the state’s laws and rules gender neutral. Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing the language used in the state’s copious laws, which includes thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn’t a consideration. The final measure that was approved by the Legislature this year has terms like “ombuds” and “security guards” replace “ombudsman” and “watchmen.” “Dairymen,” “freshmen” and even “penmanship” are replaced by “dairy farmers,” “first-year students” and “handwriting.” In previous years, the state had already changed “fireman” to “firefighter,” “policeman” to “police officer” and “clergymen” to “clergy.” Past changes also include adding “or her” after “him” or “his.”
• Liquor, beer and wine: Farmers markets that meet certain requirements will be able to feature wine and beer tasting. The measure makes a pilot program permanent. Meanwhile, movie theaters with less 120 seats per screen will be allowed to obtain a liquor license under another approved measure and lawmakers made sure that grocery stores using self-checkout machines check people’s identification when they purchase alcohol.
• Dropped marijuana: Should a person drop or forget an ounce or less of marijuana at a retail store with a pharmacy, managers need to notify law enforcement and destroy the marijuana under a law approved by lawmakers.