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New laws ban sex with prisoners, hound-hunting of bobcats, more

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

California hunters will no longer be able to use dogs to hunt bobcats and bears. Here, Josh Brones, president of the California Houndsmen for Conservation, walks his hunting dogs, Dollar, left, Sequoia, center and Tanner right, near his home in Wilton.

With every new year comes a hodgepodge of fresh local laws — many serious, some silly, and others so obvious it makes you wonder what took legislators so long.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a year-end list of some of the laws that go on the books Jan. 1.

Among the winners: California bobcats and Illinois residents who overshare on Facebook. Losers include randy police officers and sex offenders with Santa suits.


 


In Maryland, same-sex couples will get the right to marry. In California, clergy who oppose gay unions don’t have to perform them.

California also outlawed hound-hunting of bobcats and bears after deciding it isn’t a fair fight.

"There is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat," state Sen. Ted Lieu said when the bill he authored was passed.

Also now prohibited in California: law enforcement officers having sex with anyone in custody, including prisoners who have been arrested but not yet booked.

California and Illinois have both gone to bat for social networkers who want to keep snarky status updates and bikini photos under wraps, barring employers from forcing job applicants or workers to hand over passwords for Facebook and Twitter.

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Illinois is also looking out for military re-enactors, expanding an exemption from gun laws to include weapons with barrels less than 16 inches long.

Other new Illinois laws: a ban on shark fins and a law prohibiting sex offenders from handing out Halloween candy or dressing up like Santa or the Easter bunny.

Florida is putting the brakes on swamp buggy drivers who want to tool around on state roadways; they can’t, unless local law explicitly allows it.

But the Sunshine State has some good news for drivers who flash their headlights to let oncoming motorists know that police have set a speed trap up ahead. They can no longer be ticketed for it, come the first of the year.

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