State lawmakers were busy last year, resulting in nearly 40,000 new state laws taking effect in 2012. Given the political climate of the past few years, it is unsurprising that many of these focus on immigration enforcement:
Alabama, with the country’s toughest immigration law, will require all employers who do business with any government entity to use a federal system known as E-Verify to check that all new employees are in the country legally.
Georgia is putting a similar law into effect requiring any business with 500 or more employees to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of new hires. The requirement is being phased in, with all employers with more than 10 employees to be included by July 2013.
In addition to draconian immigration measures (that are, by the way, destroying the economies of the states in which they have been passed), a parental notification law is going into effect in New Hampshire. An Arkansas law requiring facilities performing non-surgical abortions to be subject to the same Health Department inspections as facilities performing surgical abortions has also just gone into effect.
Laws going into effect this year means that people begin to be affected right away, as is the case for a 93-year-old woman in Tennessee, who will not be able to vote for the first time in decades due to her identification card not matching new voter ID requirements in the state.
It’s not all bad news however – California passed a state version of the DREAM Act, which expands eligibility to scholarships to undocumented youth in the state. California also passed a policy requiring educational curricula in the state to go into the societal contributions of LGBT persons and persons with disabilities, a much-needed recognition of the vast contributions of these communities to our movements for social justice.
Last year was indeed busy, and this year shows no signs of slowing down – watch out, keep informed, and always stay engaged. Palante!