Smoking out bad behavior
Not every law that comes out of the pressure cooker that is the state capitol makes perfect sense.
And Oregon, being a live and let live state, with the wild West and pioneer ethic still running strong, does not need to earn the reputation of the state where absolutely everything is against the law.
Still, a lot of laws that went into effect Wednesday will make life safer, healthier and more pleasant for Oregonians.
Smokers, in particular, may object to cigarette taxes climbing 13 cents to $1.31 a pack. A pack of smokes is getting mighty expensive these days. The tax, though, is an important contributor to public services, including cities and counties, the Department of Transportation and the Oregon Health Authority Fund. Most of the latest increase will go to mental health services.
Few people will, publicly at least, object to a new Oregon law that makes it so you can’t smoke when a child is in the car, even with the windows down. Remember, it’s already illegal for kids younger than 18 to smoke. Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous. Why, then, would it make sense to drive around exposing kids to smoke and compromising their health?
Also, people who like to yak on the cellphone while driving — you know who you are — are in for a rude awakening in 2014. If you get pulled over by the police, this year, the standard fine will increase from $50 to $160, or more than triple.
Judges, meanwhile, will have the discretion to change the high-end fine to $500. Distracted driving is dangerous, and this law, as anybody who drives through La Grande knows, has been ignored about as much as any law in Oregon.
Oregonians also may get paler in 2014. Oregonians, especially west siders, with their nine months of rain and three months of showers, are not famous for their fabulous tans. Now teens in particular might lose their tans. Minors will need a doctor’s note to use a tanning bed, which is a nod to the risk of skin cancer, particularly for folks 30 and younger.
The new laws even effect people who tie up their dogs. Yes, it’s good not to let man’s best friend run wild, but according to the new Oregon law, dog owners will need to make sure that the manner they tie their dog up doesn’t cause injury to the dog.
One of the stranger new laws allows mothers to take their placentas home from the hospital. Some cultures and experts say ingesting placentas has health benefits.
Social media users will be happy to know that starting this year, your company or your boss can’t demand access to personal social media accounts. This new law makes a better division between work and play, although some people will still play at work and work when they should be playing.
No law can stop that.