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Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year- New Laws

January 1st is often used as the day on which new laws go into effect. Norma Love of the Associated Press runs down some of the new laws that become official yesterday in New Hampshire, including a cap on payday loans:
Payday lenders typically charge $20 per $100 for two-week loans backed by the borrower's car title or next paycheck. That amounts to 1.43 percent interest per day, an annual rate of 521 percent.

The cap translates to a daily interest rate of about 0.1 percent, or total interest charges of $1.38 – a dime a day – on a $100, two-week loan.

The rest of the list is quite eclectic:
• State transportation officials must minimize hazards to bicycles from rumble strips, drain grates and road surface treatments by establishing placement standards that keep cyclists in mind. The law also allows cyclists to pass stopped vehicles on the right without penalty.

• Insurers and pharmacy benefits managers must require pharmacies they contract with to charge enrollees the pharmacy’s usual and customary price for a prescription or the insurance copayment, whichever is less.

• Urinating or defecating in a public place (other than a restroom) is now a violation if the person knew or should have known the act would cause affront or alarm.

• People with seizure disorders diagnosed by a physician may use service dogs in public facilities and places the public is invited.

• Judges can no longer keep traffic convictions from appearing on the records of commercial drivers by placing the convictions on file, deferring judgment or allowing drivers to enter diversion programs that eliminate a conviction. Parking tickets are exempt.

• Administering drugs to wildlife without state permission is now a misdemeanor. The law covers drugs for fertility control, disease prevention or treatment, immobilization and growth stimulation administered to any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian under the jurisdiction of the Fish and Game Department. The law does not apply to drugs used in normal animal husbandry practices.

• People alleging they were victims of sexual assault as minors have more time to file civil lawsuits. Lawsuits can now be filed until age 30 – a five year increase from the old law – or later if filed within three years of when injury from the assault was discovered or should have been discovered.

• Courts now have specific power to prohibit people convicted of conducting illegal animal fights from having custody or control over the species in the future.

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