As 2013 begins, many states are enacting new laws dealing with gay rights, child safety, abortion, immigration and other perennial concerns. Some other topics states are dealing with in new laws:
Pennsylvania will prohibit use of carbon monoxide chambers to destroy animals at shelters and will make it easier for shelters to get drugs for a more humane method. Activists say animals are often old, young, sick or hurt and not good candidates for gas chamber euthanasia. Some provisions are about to take effect, while others will be in place later in 2013.
Alaska becomes the 31st state to require insurance coverage for autism, with a law mandating coverage for the diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for children and young adults. Illinois, which previously approved autism insurance coverage, now also will require insurance companies to cover medical services related to autism.
Washington state is requiring manufacturers of brake pads to phase out the use of copper and other heavy metals as a way to prevent the metal from polluting waters and harming salmon. When brakes wear down, they release copper shavings onto roads that eventually wash into rivers. The first phase of the law takes effect Jan. 1, when manufacturers of friction brakes will be required to report the concentrations of heavy metals in their products.
New Mexico will allow more frequent refills of prescription eye drops, such as those used by glaucoma patients. Under the law, insurance companies could not deny coverage for a refill requested by a patient within a certain amount of time — for instance, within 23 days for someone with a prescription for a 30 day supply of the eye drops. Supporters of the measure say some patients find it difficult to control how many drops they put onto their eye, causing individuals to prematurely run out of medication before an insurer will pay for a refill.