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New laws, great and small, hit the books

People in Colorado can no longer buy a gun without a background check, same-sex couples can marry in Delaware, young teens in New Jersey can't artificially tan and voters in Kentucky can now have an adult beverage on election day.

Starting Monday, that's the law.

July 1 marks the start of the fiscal year, which means hundreds of new state laws go into effect. Many of the laws focus on topics that are part of a national debate like gun control, abortion rights drone surveillance and Internet privacy. On a lighter note, some of Monday’s laws affect smaller-scale changes, such as ordering edible landscaping to be grown around the Statehouse in Maine or finally being able to play the lottery in Wyoming.

Colorado’s gun legislation in effect today is similar to the kind of comprehensive gun control reform President Barack Obama’s administration is trying to pass on a national level.

Just shy of a year after the deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 during the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises, Colorado passed one of the most progressive gun reform laws in the country. Starting Monday, the state now requires background checks for both private and online gun sales. It also banned high-capacity ammunition magazines like the one Holmes used.

Despite major mass shootings like Aurora and December’s school massacre that left 20 children and 7 adults dead in Newtown, Conn., 18 states actually passed loosened gun laws that also take effect Monday. In Kansas, individuals can carry guns into more public buildings. Most notably, school employees can now carry concealed handguns.

State legislators in many states are looking to crack down on abortion limits. About 13 states passed stricter abortion laws after state legislators proposed more than 300 bills aimed at limiting abortions in 2012, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. North Dakota passed the strictest abortion law in the country, which takes effect in August, banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Currently, Texas legislators are battling over a bill that would restrict abortions in the state after 20 weeks. Texas Gov. Rick Perry convened a special legislative session to push the abortion bill through despite state Sen. Wendy Davis’ historic 11-hour filibuster June 25. The session starts July 1 and can last up to 30 days, making it unlikely Texas Democrats will be able to block the bill.

Legislators in eight states passed laws that protect employees’ social media accounts. Individuals no longer have to provide their social media passwords to their employers.

U.S. legislators continue to enact stricter laws involving mobile devices in moving vehicles.  Hawaii and West Virginia drivers are now part of the growing number of states that ban the use of handheld devices while driving. Some states banned texting while driving or enacted more stringent punishments for those who try to multitask by texting and driving.

States are also looking to take advantage of mobile devices as four states can now use their smart phone to show proof of car insurance.

Over the past year, Americans learned through leaked top-secret documents about heightened drone surveillance. Six states, including Idaho and Virginia, passed stricter drone laws that take effect Monday.  Virginia’s ban prevents authorities from using drones for the next two years.

Other notable laws include:

  • Washington state lawmakers are stripping the state’s books of sexist language. As of Monday, words that include men will become more gender neutral. For example, “his” will appear as “his or her” and college “freshmen” will become “first-year students.”
  • Kentucky lifted a longstanding Prohibition-era law that banned the sale of alcohol while the polls were still open. Now, Blue Grass State residents can enjoy a drink on election day.
  • New Jersey has a checkered past with its relationship with tanning, as the cast of Jersey Shore is famous for its orangey glow. It is one of dozens of states that passed stricter tanning laws to keep minors away from the fake sun. Spray tans for Jersey’s youth are also banned as of July 1.
  • Wyoming residents can finally take part in the lottery, leaving only a few states that do not offer the big prize drawing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.