OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A variety of new laws took effect Sunday, ranging from measures making it easier for certain businesses to serve or offer samples of alcohol to state compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted.
Lawmakers met for a total of 153 days this year over one regular legislative session and two overtime sessions, passing more than 300 bills, with most of them taking effect this weekend.
While the key focus was on the $33.6 billion two-year state operating budget that was signed into law just hours before the end of the current fiscal year, averting a government shutdown, several other issues also came to the forefront. For example, a new law allows people who were wrongfully convicted to file a claim in superior court for damages against the state.
Here is a quicky look at some of the new laws, which include new regulations for social media:
— Electronic Proof of Driver's Insurance: Drivers in Washington will now be able to use their smartphones to prove they have insurance when they get pulled over. The Legislature added electronic proof of driver's insurance to the list of methods officers can accept proof.
—Social Media Passwords: Lawmakers barred employers from demanding passwords for social media sites like Facebook at the workplace and during job interviews. It also stops employers from making workers friend managers so that their profile is viewable.
—Gender Neutral Language: Washington lawmakers continued their efforts to scrape the state's laws and rules of sexist language. A measure approved by the Legislature this year mandated that references to "his" be changed to "his or her." Other nouns like "clergyman" must be changed to "clergy." Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing the language used in the state's copious laws, which includes thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn't a consideration.
—Liquor, beer and wine: Farmers markets that meet certain requirements will be able to feature wine and beer tasting. The measure makes a pilot program permanent. Meanwhile, movie theaters with less 120 seats per screen will be allowed to obtain a liquor license under another approved measure and lawmakers made sure that grocery stores using self-checkout machines check people's identification when they purchase alcohol.
—Dropped marijuana: Should a person drop or forget an ounce or less of marijuana at a retail store with a pharmacy, managers need to notify law enforcement and destroy the marijuana under a law approved by lawmakers.