Laws on guns, abor­tion take ef­fect across na­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - DAVID A. LIEB In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Seanna Ad­cox, Adam Beam, Kath­leen Foody, John Hanna, Jonathan Mat­tise, Lee Mor­gan, Sean Mur­phy, Alan Suderman, Don Thompson and Brian Witte of The Associated Press.

Start­ing Satur­day, con­cealed guns are al­lowed at col­lege cam­puses in Ge­or­gia and Kansas, more public build­ings and bus sta­tions in Ten­nessee, and at the Iowa Capi­tol as new laws took ef­fect con­tin­u­ing the steady ex­pan­sion of gun rights in Repub­li­can-con­trolled states.

The firearms poli­cies are among scores of laws that took ef­fect Satur­day, along with the start of the new fis­cal year in many states. Some of those laws con­tinue a re­cent trend of states tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to fix ag­ing roads and ad­dress the drug over­dose epi­demic.

A voter-ap­proved gun-con­trol ini­tia­tive pro­hibit­ing peo­ple from pos­sess­ing am­mu­ni­tion mag­a­zines ca­pa­ble of hold­ing more than 10 bul­lets was to go into ef­fect Satur­day in Cal­i­for­nia, but it was blocked by a fed­eral judge, who said it would have made crim­i­nals out of thou­sands of oth­er­wise law-abid­ing res­i­dents who own the mag­a­zines. A sim­i­lar law passed by the Demo­cratic-dom­i­nated Leg­is­la­ture also is sub­ject to the pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.

For decades, the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion pushed for state laws al­low­ing peo­ple to carry con­cealed guns with per­mits. Hav­ing suc­ceeded na­tion­wide, gun-rights ad­vo­cates now are grad­u­ally ex­pand­ing where those weapons can be taken. Yet even some of the new laws con­tain ex­cep­tions.

Ge­or­gia’s law al­lows peo­ple with con­cealed hand­gun per­mits to take their weapons into class­rooms but not dor­mi­to­ries, and col­lege sports fans can pack weapons while tail­gat­ing but not in sta­di­ums.

A Ten­nessee law al­low­ing guns in many lo­cal public build­ings, bus sta­tions and parks can be voided if au­thor­i­ties in­stead opt to in­stall metal de­tec­tors staffed by se­cu­rity guards.

Con­cealed guns are now al­lowed at col­lege cam­puses in Kansas as a re­sult of a 2013 law that ap­plies to public build­ings lack­ing height­ened se­cu­rity such as metal de­tec­tors and guards. A fouryear ex­emp­tion for uni­ver­si­ties ex­pired Satur­day. But a law that Repub­li­can Gov. Sam Brown­back is al­low­ing to take ef­fect with­out his sig­na­ture will make per­ma­nent a sim­i­lar ex­emp­tion for public hos­pi­tals and men­tal health cen­ters.

In Iowa, where per­mit hold­ers are now able to carry con­cealed guns in the Capi­tol, the state Supreme Court has re­sponded by ban­ning weapons in all court­houses statewide.

As with guns, some Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic states con­tinue to move in op­po­site di­rec­tions on abor­tion-re­lated poli­cies.

A Ten­nessee law will re­quire doc­tors to de­ter­mine the vi­a­bil­ity of fe­tuses of at least 20 weeks of ges­ta­tion, mak­ing it a felony to abort a vi­able fe­tus un­less the preg­nancy puts a woman at risk of death or se­ri­ous in­jury. In South Dakota, new felony charges will dou­ble the po­ten­tial fines and prison time for physi­cians who abort a fe­tus ca­pa­ble of feel­ing pain, ex­cept in cases of med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

Other new laws deal with no­ti­fi­ca­tions re­quired be­fore abor­tions.

A Wy­oming law will re­quire abor­tion providers to give women the op­por­tu­nity to view an ul­tra­sound and lis­ten to the fe­tal heart­beat.

A Kansas law will re­quire abor­tion providers to give women more in­for­ma­tion about their doc­tors, in­clud­ing their cre­den­tials, mal­prac­tice in­sur­ance, dis­ci­plinary records and hos­pi­tal priv­i­leges. The law also elim­i­nates fine print, re­quir­ing the in­for­ma­tion to be pre­sented in 12-point Times New Ro­man type on white pa­per.

States are in­creas­ingly align­ing be­hind new laws rais­ing taxes and fees for trans­porta­tion projects.

Start­ing Satur­day, the gas tax went up by 10 cents a gal­lon in In­di­ana, 4.5 cents in Mon­tana, 4 cents in Ten­nessee, 3.5 cents in West Vir­ginia and 2 cents in South Carolina. In some cases, it’s the ini­tial step in a mul­ti­year tax in­crease.

The lat­est round of tax in­creases means nearly three-fourths of states have taken some sort of ac­tion to in­crease trans­porta­tion fund­ing over the past five years.

Nu­mer­ous laws ad­dress­ing health care also are tak­ing ef­fect.

Most Ari­zona em­ploy­ers will be re­quired to of­fer paid sick leave to their work­ers be­cause of a 2016 bal­lot ini­tia­tive that took ef­fect Satur­day. Ari­zona is the sev­enth state with such a re­quire­ment, all en­acted since 2011.

Other new laws will ex­pand pa­tients’ rights in an at­tempt to avoid un­ex­pected med­i­cal costs. A Mis­souri law will re­quire health care providers to give pa­tients costs es­ti­mates upon re­quest, and a Cal­i­for­nia law will re­quire pa­tients’ writ­ten con­sent be­fore re­ceiv­ing ser­vices from providers out­side their in­sur­ance net­work.

Sev­eral laws seek to com­bat opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

Ken­tucky will ban doc­tors from pre­scrib­ing a more than three-day sup­ply of pre­scrip­tion painkillers, al­though the law has var­i­ous ex­cep­tions.

New laws in Vir­ginia will le­gal­ize sy­ringe ex­change pro­grams and re­quire physi­cians to check a pre­scrip­tion drug mon­i­tor­ing data­base be­fore pre­scrib­ing opioids for more than seven days. Wy­oming will join most other states in pro­vid­ing im­mu­nity to those who ad­min­is­ter over­dose med­i­ca­tions.

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