One of my strongest memories of my childhood is reading newspaper articles at the end of December that alerted readers to new laws coming into effect on January 1. It's funny because I don't remember many "traditionally important" events, but Cheerios, sugar, and these new laws stand out in my mind. I don't think there is a link between this experience and my decision to enter the legal field, but I certainly was captivated by idea of new law. "What was wrong with existing law?" "Why didn't they think of these things before?" Granted, I was nine and probably would have thought bicameral was either an open-minded desert animal or two pieces of candy.
The best part was digging through the those serious laws in search of one or two that seemed silly. While I may not have understood the nuances of the legislative process during the third grade, apparently I could spot pork and shady influence from a mile away. Humm, maybe I can find a silly law litigation firm somewhere. That sounds legitimate, right? Okay, maybe not. Either way, the creation of new laws forces lawyers to pay attention to changes in their practice area. Wait, does that mean we never escape the learning aspect of law school? The horror!
Naturally, I still look for silly laws, but I think the amusement threshold was a lot lower when I was nine.
Some of the new laws in 2008 are inventive, such as North Carolina requiring bars to establish a recycling program before receiving an alcohol permit. Others are well-intentioned, but a tad odd.
Take the 2008 New York law that, and I quote, "requires airlines operating in New York to provide basic snacks, water, fresh air, power and working bathrooms on planes for passengers stuck on the tarmac for more than 3 hours." Great idea, but three hours? How arbitrary. Two and a half hours? No working bathroom for you!
P.S. One of the most famous (infamous?) 2008 California laws is the prohibition against using hand held cellphones while driving. I thought it went into effect on January 1, but we have until July 1 to continue yappin' with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the cell during a lane change. Nice.