New laws and policy changes approved by state lawmakers earlier this year are about to take effect.
What that means for you ranges from whether your kids have to wear a helmet on their four-wheeler and how to drive through the county’s growing number of roundabouts. That’s in addition to state lawmakers approving the state’s budget, developing a plan to replace ISTEP testing and approving increases in fees that will bring in more money to build and repair roads.
Most new laws take effect Saturday, but some won’t until the end of the year or beyond.
Here is a look at what’s changing:
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Wear a helmet
A new law requires children under age 18 who are driving or riding on an off-road vehicle to wear a helmet. Off-road vehicles include ATVs, UTVs, side-by-side vehicles and dirt bikes.
Drivers are required to yield to vehicles longer than 40 feet, typically semis, in the roundabout. And if two semis are in the roundabout, the driver on the right must yield to the driver on the left and stop if necessary.
Anyone arrested on a felony charge after Dec. 31 will have to submit a DNA sample to be kept on file by the state. People can have their DNA removed from the state database if they are acquitted of all charges or the felony charges are converted to a misdemeanor, all felony charges are dismissed or no felony charge is filed within 365 days of the arrest.
In order to pay for added road construction, the gasoline tax is increasing by 10 cents per gallon, and can be increased in future years as well. New registration fees have been added of $15 for every vehicle, $150 for electric vehicles and $50 for hybrid vehicles. Tolls could also be allowed on certain interstates.
New legislation increases the cost of projects that can be required to go to a public vote from $10 million for school projects to $15 million, and to $15 million for other projects. After Dec. 31, 2018, that amount will increase based on assessed value growth. A project also must go to referendum if the cost is more than 1 percent of the total assessed value of property within the district boundaries. If a project is turned down at referendum, it cannot be proposed again for 700 days — doubling the amount of time under the current law.
Starting July 1, 2018, incoming college students who will be living on a residential campus are required to be vaccinated for meningitis.
Counties, cities and towns can create their own needle exchange programs, which have been created elsewhere to try to stop the spread of disease by drug users sharing needles.