Sweeping new laws now apply across U.S. localities

Hundreds of new laws have taken effect in 2022, including statutes affecting justice systems, police departments and workplaces.

Tennessee removed the Parole Board’s ability to deny parole to a person who has not tried to improve their education or vocational skills due to long wait lists for programs. In Arkansas, starting Jan. 13, people will have to serve at least 80% of their sentences without the chance of parole if they commit serious felonies involving violence.

As of Jan. 1, a California bill targeting bias in jury selection in criminal jury trials bars a party from using a peremptory challenge to remove a prospective juror on the basis of the juror’s race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or perceived membership in any other protected group.

Changes in police practices are also occurring. Illinois now requires all law enforcement officers in large counties and cities to wear body cameras. Smaller departments will be phased into the requirement over the next three years.

California now prohibits the use of restraints that risk suffocating a suspect and bars police from firing rubber projectiles and tear gas at protesters if the situation is not life-threatening.

A slew of laws affecting the workplace also took effect on Jan. 1. In Texas, employers are now barred from inquiring about most applicants’ job history on an initial job application. Oregon amended its anti-discrimination state to include natural hairstyles as a protected characteristic.

Montana prohibits an employee from discriminating against an employee for the legal use of marijuana during nonworking hours, while Philadelphia now prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees, with some exceptions, to undergo testing for the presence of pot as a condition of employment.

Laws restricting non-disparagement agreements have also taken effect. As of Jan. 1, California prohibits employers from requiring an individual to sign a non-disparagement agreement that prevents them from disclosing illegal acts in the workplace.