With 2012, State Laws Kick in on Everything from Immigration to Shark Fins

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State legislatures passed close to 40,000 new laws in 2011, and a number of those measures take effect on Jan. 1. On some issues, like immigration, state laws are taking markedly different stands.

2012 will be a more highly regulated year since all 50 state legislatures passed close to 40,000 new laws in 2011. A number of those measures will take effect Jan. 1.

A compilation prepared by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) highlights laws taking effect on New Year's Day in at least 21 states. State legislators have been especially active on issues pertaining to immigration, government costs, and the care of young people. But Americans will face new state laws on a wide variety of areas ranging from abortion to the distribution of shark fins, the NCSL report shows.

NCSL did not provide a breakdown on which states produced the most new laws, but its report on laws taking effect on Jan. 1 was heavy with legislation from California.

In some cases, states are taking markedly different stands on issues, with immigration being a key example. Laws requiring businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to determine the eligibility of workers to be employed in the United States will go into effect in Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. But a law taking effect Jan. 1 in California takes almost the opposite approach: It prohibits any state or local government from requiring a private employer to use the E-Verify program unless required to do so by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

On the cost-control front, state employees will feel the pinch. A Delaware law requires new state employees who become members of the Delaware pension fund to make larger contributions than earlier members. It also will require those new members to be older or to work longer than current members to earn a pension benefit.

In North Dakota, state workers' pension contributions also increase. An Oklahoma law increases the retirement age for judges who start work after Jan. …