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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

States Pass New Laws From Chili to Hula




NEW YORK -- You can hula until you drop in Hawaii, but you'll need mom and dad's permission to have your navel pierced in Tennessee. And don't talk back to your teachers in Louisiana or you may be breaking the law.


New laws passed in states around the United States f many of which take effect with the new fiscal year July 1 f regulate everything from chili sauce to rubber duck races.


A spate of new ordinances focuses on reining in teenagers. Teens caught smoking in South Dakota starting Thursday can be fined once for every cigarette they light up, as can the merchant who sold them the pack. Louisiana passed a law that makes students in kindergarten through fifth grade address teachers with a courtesy title such as "sir'' or "ma'am.''


In Utah, the marriage age was raised to 16 from 14, and in Florida, a new law calls for teenage girls to wait up to 48 hours for an abortion to allow doctors time to notify their parents. Indiana and Tennessee enacted legislation that requires parental consent for body piercing.


"Looking at it on a broader scale, I think there is an issue of protecting kids from themselves and keeping parents in control,'' said Stephanie Wilson, who monitors state laws at the National Conference of State Legislatures.


She said that in the wake of the recent shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and other schools, a nationwide trend toward closer monitoring of teens will likely continue.


Many states have also taken steps to try to protect children in school. In Alabama, teachers with unsupervised access to students must now be fingerprinted and undergo background checks. In Maryland, students who plant bombs or make bomb threats can lose their drivers licenses.


Of course, not all the new laws involve children: Many states raised penalties for violent crimes and for driving under the influence.


New Hampshire passed a law allowing homosexuals to adopt children, and also became the last state in the country to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with a permanent holiday.


In Idaho, meanwhile, lawmakers rescinded a $1,000 limit on prize money that can be awarded in charity rubber duck races. For those who are interested, the races involve dumping hundreds of rubber ducks in a stream and seeing which one reaches the finish line first.


Hula, once banned by missionaries as a "heathen practice,'' was declared the official state dance of Hawaii. South Carolina's new official state amphibian is the spotted salamander. Legislators in New Mexico passed a law declaring the state "The Land of Enchantment,'' and even came up with an official state question: "Red or green?''


The question refers to what type of chili sauce diners want to put on their Southwestern cuisine.