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    Several new 2012 laws go into effect all across U.S.

    3:09 PM, Dec 29, 2011   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CNN) - Starting January first, several new laws will go into effect across the state dealing with a variety of things including minimum wage and the sale of shark fins.

    It will be illegal to sell, trade or distribute shark fins in California at the beginning of the new year. The ban is part of several new laws that take effect for the new year.

    Shark fins are considered a delicacy in China. And-shark fin soup is popular in California. Governor Jerry Brown says the practice of cutting the fins off living sharks is cruel and harms the health of the ocean.
    Restaurants will be allowed to sell any existing stock of shark fin until 2013. Oregon has also passed a similar law.

    You'll need more change to ride through the Garden State, beginning next year. Tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are going up by 50-percent on New Year's Day.

    Expect to pay $1.10 more for trip on the Turnpike, and at least 35-cents more on the Parkway. This is the second phase of toll increases since 2008.

    Want a little pick-me-up with your brew? Well, it won't be a legal option in 2012 for people in California.

    Under a new state law, beer with caffeine will be off store shelves. The legislation is in response to several incidents where drinkers, some who were underage, were hospitalized after drinking caffeinated beer.

    And new California law set to go into effect next year mandates proper recovery for athletes with head injuries. Under the law, public high school or younger sports teams must bench an athlete suspected of having a concussion or head injury.

    The player will not be allowed back until clearance is given by a health provider. The measure would not apply to college teams, private schools, adult leagues, or to youth leagues that use private facilities. 

    Minimum wage workers in eight states are about to start making more money. On New Year's day, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will increase the rate between 28 and 37-cents per hour.

    Hourly pay rates in these states will range from $7.64 in Colorado to $9. 04 in the state of Washington.

    Workers are getting the income bump because of state laws that require minimum wage keep pace with inflation.

    The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 an hour. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have rates above the federal level.

    More states are joining a nationwide movement for tougher laws against distracted driving in 2012.

    Starting January 1st, Nevada will prohibit all drivers from texting and using handheld devices.

    North Dakota is banning people under 18 from using cell phones in their cars and barring all drivers from texting.

    And in Oregon only emergency responders, tow truck drivers and utility crews will be allowed to talk on the phone while driving.

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