Facebook and other social media sites are the focus of some new state laws that will take effect in the New Year.


Reuters reports that Illinois and California employers are not allowed to demand that their workers give them access to their password-protected social accounts. Michigan enacted a similar law in December that also penalizes school and other educational institutions if they dismiss or won’t admit students who do not give them access to their password-protected social networking accounts.

Employees should note that employers can continue to use publicly available social media posts in their decisions. This means that any inappropriate remarks or posts could come back on them at a later date, either from their current employer or a prospective future employer.

Other new laws include changes to gun control laws, which has been a focal point in recent weeks. Lawmakers in Michigan have redefined what a “pistol” is, saying that it’s any firearm that’s shorter than 26 inches. Meanwhile Illinois lawmakers have excluded certain types of guns, like paintball guns, from the definition of a firearm. Also some military reenactment participants will be except from certain weapons laws.

Other points of interest in this round of state laws include a new Kentucky law which prohibits residents from releasing wild or feral hogs, as well as an Illinois law that makes it illegal for residents to possess or sell a shark fin.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that some of these laws will take effect immediately tomorrow, while others will become effective later in 2013.