These State Laws Don’t Care What The Federal Government Decides

While the federal government has wide-reaching authority, its power isn’t without boundaries. In fact, if a state law gives people more rights than a federal law, the state law is legally supposed to triumph the federal one. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and we often find the federal law overruling the states in positions of conflict. But as of early 2018, there have been numerous laws passed in various states that oppose the federal law. From marijuana legalization to increased wages, some states are making their own decisions, and not caring what the federal government has to say about it.

California Residents Get More Flexible Marijuana Laws


According to federal law, marijuana is classified as a controlled substance, but that isn’t stopping a number of states from making it legal for recreational purposes. The latest state to hop on the pot bandwagon is California. For years marijuana has been legal in the state for medicinal purposes. In 2016 California passed a law that made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it was illegal to sell, which was frustrating to residents. But as of January 1, 2018, it is legal to sell cannabis for recreational purposes through licensed shops, making residents’ wildest dreams a reality.

Pets Will Be Treated Like Children If A Couple Divorces


For pet owners, their beloved furry friends are considered members of the family. However, when it comes to divorce, according to federal law, pets are treated as just another possession to divvy up between the severed couple. As of January 1, 2018, that’s not the case for pet owners in Illinois. A new law treats pets as if they are real members of the family, with their best interests in mind. When a pet custody question comes up during a case, rather than handing the pet over to one person like just another household item, the matter could be resolved with both parties sharing custody.

Certain States Will Be Raising The Minimum Wage


The federal government seems to think people in this day and age can survive off of a minimum wage of $7.25, the average amount its been in the U.S. since 2009. Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington know how unrealistic this is, and will be raising their minimum wage rates this year. California, Washington D.C. and New York are planning to raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour, while most other states’ raises will range from 15 cents to a dollar. Whether or not this means consumers will have to pay higher prices is still unknown.

Victims Of Domestic Violence Will Get Protected Timed Off From Work


Federal law does not require employees to be paid for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or federal or other holidays. This is usually something worked out between an employee and employer, and often times employees get screwed. But voters in Nevada decided that this freedom for the employer to choose should not apply to domestic abuse victims. They just passed a law that requires employers to grant up to 160 hours of sick leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence or have family members that are victims.

Voters, Get Your IDs Ready


The U.S. has no federal regulation on whether voters have to show their ID when stepping into voting booths. This topic has caused quite an uproar throughout the country, and some states are taking a stand. As of 2018, West Virginian voters are required to show an ID but are pretty open about the form of ID. Starting in 2019, Iowa will be a bit stricter, and those who don’t have one of the accepted forms will be offered a provisional ballot. Texan voters, on the other hand, will be able to cast a ballot without a photo ID if they can show they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting one.

California Cracks Down On Buying Ammunition Online


While there are no federal restrictions on purchasing bullets online, voters in California feel the need to crack down on ammunition sales. The six million gun owners in the state will no longer be able to purchase ammunition online and have them shipped directly to their homes. Instead, the new law requires the bullets to be shipped to a licensed dealer that has been approved by the Department of Justice, and the purchaser must then go and pick them up from there. The purpose of the law isn’t to prevent law-abiding gun owners from getting ammunition, but rather to stop criminals and those not meant to have it.

Rhode Island Rejects The Death Penalty


While each state has their own law regarding the death penalty, there’s a death penalty available under federal law. In 2012 there was a standoff between the federal government and the State of Rhode Island regarding this law. The people of Rhode Island voted to eliminate the death penalty, so the governor didn’t feel it right that a federal courthouse could sentence a man to die in their own state. So when the feds started fighting to execute one man, in particular, the state fought back. While the governor wasn’t able to keep him out of federal court, the battle resulted in the judge sentencing him to life without parole.

Florida Pushes Back Against Ending Needle-Exchange Programs


Despite numerous studies that prove syringe-exchange programs (in regards to drug use) reduce disease without increasing drug use, the federal government had banned federal funding for needle-exchange programs for over three decades. Their stance was their belief that such exchanges “undercut the credibility of society’s message that drug use is illegal and morally wrong.” Numerous states, however, did not agree with this decision, including Florida, and fought to implement their own programs in hopes of lowering its epidemic of needle-drug born diseases. The feds finally heard their plea, and as of 2016, Congress ended the ban.

Kansas Passes The Second Amendment Protection Act


Federal firearm laws generally regulate the sales, possession, and transportation of firearms and ammunition. They specify who is, and who isn’t, allowed to possess a firearm. But a few states argue that gun regulation falls outside the scope of the federal government’s power. The voters of Idaho unanimously passed a law that is meant to prevent any future federal gun measures from being enforced in the state. Kansas passed the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” which states that federal regulations don’t apply to guns manufactured in the state, and even made it a felony for federal officials to enforce U.S. firearms laws there.

States Fight FCC To Ensure Open Internet Access


In December 2017, the Trump administration ruled against net neutrality. In response, states began working towards reversing the decision — or at least putting their own new regulations in place to ensure open internet access. New York led the pack, vowing to sue the FCC to stop its rollback from taking place. California and Washington stated that they’d try on their own to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking websites, slowing down web traffic or prioritizing their movies, music and other content above their rivals.’ California has also said that it will “step in and ensure open internet access in California.”

California Is A Sanctuary State


immigration, a constant hot topic, is regulated federally. Despite this, several states, including Arizona, have still passed legislation that limits undocumented immigrants’ access to public benefits, directs state and local police to check the legal residence status of arrestees and other directives that affect immigrants. On the other end, California just passed a law this year, unofficially called a “sanctuary state” bill, stating that it will not be able to use its resources, such as its funds or personnel, to investigate, detain or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes. Those who oppose the bill are worried it will cause a lot of tension between local law and federal agents.

New Parents Can Take 8 Weeks Of Paid Family Leave In New York


Working expecting parents in New York, rejoice! While, as mentioned, the federal government has no laws regarding paid sick leave, New York recently passed the most aggressive paid family leave bill in the country. It now will allow employees to take up to eight weeks off of paid family leave in order to promote “bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster child, caring for a family member who is ill, or helping with a family member who is deployed on military service.” New Yorkers are ecstatic that they will no longer have to be faced with the decision of having to choose between work or family.

Campus Free Speech Protection Act Gets Passed In Tennessee


While freedom of speech is listed in the Constitution, there are often restrictions on it when it comes to schools and places of business. That will no longer be the case for college students in Tennessee. Voters recently passed a bill called the Campus Free Speech Protection Act, that provides some of the country’s strongest protections for student and faculty speech on public college campuses. The law states that colleges in Tennessee cannot “stifle freedom of speech and expression” by issuing speech codes, establishing free speech zones or disinviting speakers based on opposition by others to the content of their speech.

Feminine Hygiene Products Are Free To Students


Illinois and California have recently passed laws to ensure that their female students have all that they need during their time of the month. Illinois requires all school districts to make feminine hygiene products free to students. Girls in grades sixth through eighth will now be able to get free tampons and pads right in their school bathrooms. The California law is similar, but it only applies to schools that have at least 40 percent of the student population coming from low-income families.

New Traffic Stop Instructions In State Driver’s Handbooks

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After the recent deaths of civilians during routine traffic stops, the people of North Carolina felt like something needed to be done in order to ensure the safety of their citizens and to reduce misunderstandings between drivers and law enforcement. The state’s driver’s handbook will now give instructions on how to deal with police during a traffic stop. According to Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the ACLU, “It’s important for North Carolinians to know what police are going to expect from them, but it’s equally important that people know their rights when stopped by police.”

New Jersey Police Officers Must Get Special Training To Handle Sexual Assault Cases


New Jersey has recently taken steps to further help victims of sexual assault by requiring that all police officers who handle sexual assault cases receive specialized training. The purpose is to prevent further traumatizing the victims who come forward and to help survivors feel safe and comfortable in reporting. The course will train officers on “handling, investigation and response procedures.” Victims can also now activate what’s called a sexual assault response team, which consists of a forensic nurse examiner, a member of the law enforcement community and a confidential sexual violence advocate, from one of our county-based rape crisis centers.

Barbers In Tennessee Can Make House Calls


As of January 1, 2018, Tennessee has passed a law that permits barbers to make house calls. Apparently, it was illegal to do so prior, unless it was to the residence of a person who was ill. Now they can travel to the homes of anyone. Any barber who wants to make house calls must earn a special license called a “residential barber certificate.” Traveling barbers are becoming a nationwide trend. As to why it was against the law to do so in Tennessee before this passing of this bill remains to be seen.

Vermont Residents Don’t Have To Accept Employer’s Social Media Requests


Anyone worried about potential employers checking their Facebook, Instagram, or other social media accounts should think about moving to Vermont. The state recently passed a law that prohibits employers in Vermont from requesting or requiring employees to provide their social media content. Employers are also not allowed to require their employees to add them to his or her social media accounts. The purpose of this act is to provide social media privacy for employees, although specific law agencies are exempt from this law. So Vermonters, post away!

North Carolina Nixes The Bathroom Bill


Not all states are as progressive as others, which we learned when North Carolina fought back against the Obama administration’s nondiscrimination laws in regards to transgender students choosing which bathrooms they wanted to use. The people of North Carolina didn’t agree with this interpretation. In March of 2016, the state passed a law that required transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Despite the risk of losing $4.8 billion in funds, the state held firm. In 2017 the Trump administration withdrew this federal law, but some states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, still enforce it.

When The Federal Government Gets It Right


In June of 2015, Rainbow flags flew proudly, as the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal throughout the country. Despite this ruling, certain states refused to accept the federal law. The Attorney General of Texas told clerks they had the right to refuse to marry gay couples. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told Alabama’s probate judges not to issue the licenses, stating that, “This was forced upon our state. This is simply federal tyranny.” Regardless of what these state leaders may think or say, in this case, the federal government’s decision would trump their own.