Over 40,000 state laws are set to go in effect as soon as the clock strikes twelve tonight. Some of them are positive improvements to our country and others are more interesting. Hit the jump to read the full story and see all the different types of laws going into effect!

Wendy L.

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As the ball drops this New Year’s Day, tens of thousands of new laws are set to be rolled out across the country.

A total of 40,000 state laws, encompassing minimum wages to light bulbs and golf carts, will take effect at the start of 2012.

While some of the laws boost workers’ rights, children’s safety or define school curriculum, others are a little more strange – or extremely specific.

Georgia is imposing new safety requirements on its cities so that drivers can steer their golf carts off the green and onto roads.

Carts must be installed with brakes, reverse warning lights and a horn to be on course to pass the rules.

Bars in Utah will no longer be allowed to sell drink specials, essentially banning happy hour.

In Illinois, motorcyclists will be able to drive through a red light if it fails to change to green after ‘a reasonable length of time’ – an ambiguous measure critics claim could compromise safety.

And in another law, stores across the country will be selling the last of their incandescent 100 watt light bulbs because of a federal law instructing shops to provide more efficient versions instead.

Laws passed during this year’s legislative sessions will come into force on January 1. Others will come into place on July 1.

While some are set to help workers – such as eight states raising the minimum wage – others could shake confidence in an already concerning market.

In Delaware, new state employees will have to contribute more to their pensions while those hired after January 1 in Nevada will have to pay for their own health care costs throughout retirement.


Georgia Golf carts must have turn signals and horns installed so they can drive on roads

Utah No more daytime drink promotions, thus ending happy hour

California Ban on under 18s using tanning beds

Illinois Pupils can be suspended or expelled for posting threats against other students online

Delaware Civil unions legalised

Rhode Island Voters must present photograph ID

Texas Property tax breaks for surviving spouses of veterans

Federal Fines of up to $2,700 for truckers or bus drivers caught using a hand-held phone behind the wheel

Other laws have caused outrage.

In California, gays and lesbians will be added to the list of social groups whose contributions must be taught in history lessons in public schools.

The law also bans teaching materials that reflect poorly on gays or particular religions.

But opponents have filed a potential initiative to let parents take their children out of the classes in which they learn about the contributions made by gay people and the gay community.

Delaware will legalise civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The law gives them the same state rights of opposite sex couples who are married, while pointing out marriage is the union between a man and a woman.

Causing less uproar are the laws designed to increase safety for the vulnerable, including children and the elderly.

In Colorado, sports coaches will be required to take players as young as 11 off the field when they could have suffered a head injury. Each year, coaches must also take free online training to recognise the symptoms of a concussion.

Tanning beds will be made illegal for those under 18 in California, unless a doctor prescribes their use for a health condition.

Illinois school boards will be able to suspend or expel students making threats on websites against other students – in a move that hopes to curb online bullying and its sometimes tragic results.


Eight states will raise the minimum wage for workers, according to NBC News.

They are: Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Ohio, Vermont and Florida.

San Francisco will become the first city to raise its minimum wage to more than $10 per hour.

The new $10.24 minimum is almost $3 above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which was set in 2009.

Tennessee is increasing its penalties for raping a child to a minimum sentence of 25 years.

Judges are allowed to increase the sentence to up to 60 years for the worst cases.

In Nevada, a statewide emergency alert system will be put in place for vulnerable elderly people, similar to the Amber Alert system for abducted children.

And the rules are set to improve safety for drivers, including federal fines of up to $2,700 for truckers and bus drivers using hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel.

There is also a shake-up to the voting system, with Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Kansas voters now required to present photo ID before they cast a ballot.

Critics say the move will deter voters, including the young and the elderly, who may not have a state photo ID card.