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New Year Brings New Batch Of Laws On Chickens, Recycling And Consent


A batch of new state laws go into effect around the country today. They address issues including sexual assault, discarded electronics and animal welfare. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: In California, a chicken cage law has hatched this new year.

PAUL SHAPIRO: This is an earthquake throughout both the egg industry and throughout the entirety of animal agribusiness.

WANG: Paul Shapiro is with the Humane Society of the United States and says the new law, which passed as a ballot measure in 2008, changes the confinement practices for chickens, pigs and cattle raised for veal.

SHAPIRO: What it says is that these animals have to have at least enough space to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. And what that means is that certain standard meat industry practices and egg industry practices will no longer be allowed.

WANG: And that affects many egg producers in the U.S., not just in California. For 1.6 million of California's unauthorized immigrants, the new year means the chance to apply for a driver's license. California is now the largest state to accept license applications from residents living there illegally.

Also in California, colleges and universities are now required to have policies defining consent during sex. The so-called Yes Means Yes Law means a student must have an affirmative agreement from a partner. It's part of an effort to reduce the number of sexual assaults, an issue lawmakers in Michigan are also trying to address this year.


GOVERNOR RICK SNYDER: In these situations, let's move promptly, let's get evidence tested, and let's hopefully go after effective prosecutions where law has been broken and people have been violated.

WANG: That's Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at a press conference last summer after signing into law new policies to avoid backlogs in the testing of rape evidence kits. A new law going into effect today creates a commission to better track the evidence. This comes after more than 11,000 untested kits were found in a Detroit police storage facility.

In Tennessee, ex-felons may find an easier time looking for work in 2015. They're now eligible to receive certificates of employability from courts. Today's also the starting date for a new law in Florida requiring all four- and five-year-olds riding in cars to sit in booster seats. It's also the beginning of a new recycling rule in New York.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Did you know that as of January 2015 it is illegal to throw away electronics?

WANG: New Yorkers looking to get rid of old cell phones, computers and TVs will now have to drop off their e-waste at designated recycling stations. And there's another rule residents can soon add to their can't do list. Members of the public will not be allowed to have direct physical contact with lions, leopards and tigers in New York. Lawmakers wanted to stop the fad of young men posing with tigers for profile photos on online dating sites. That trend was highlighted on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."


STEPHEN COLBERT: Oh, yeah, ladies love a man who cuddles up with big game cats.


COLBERT: It shows you're spontaneous and don't over think things.

WANG: There's still time for tiger selfie-takers to think over this new state law. It doesn't go into effect in New York until next month. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.