New Year New Laws

By: Melissa Wollering Email
By: Melissa Wollering Email

Identity thieves could be foiled by one of several new laws taking effect in a few days. Snowmobiliers will have to tap the breaks if it ever snows and one law Wisconsin will not see in January is now in 48 others states across the nation.

Drivers may want to brush up on their booster rules as a New Year's Resolution. Sgt. Chris Jushka with the Wisconsin State Patrol says written warnings will be replaced with citations if you fail to put your child in a booster seat.

"Our intention was merely education for the first six months," says Sgt. Jushka.

The law went into effect last June, but police will start writing tickets after the first of the year. All kids ages four to eight need to be in the special seats. Children weighing less than 80 pounds or under four foot nine, also need an extra boost.

"I have never had a person get grumpy about talking about the safety of their child," says Jushka.

That safety extends to the trails, too. Snowmobilers must now limit their speed to 55 miles per hour at night. Supporters hope it reduces the number of fatalities.

Identity thieves in Wisconsin won't like a new law that stops them from opening new accounts with victims' names. A new "credit freeze" law lets consumers freeze their credit reports.

"If the credit reporting agency says there's a freeze on this report, they won't issue the credit card," says Janet Jenkins of Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The new credit freeze law does not require businesses to disclose the failed application to anyone, but banks may catch thieves trying to apply for loans or mortgages in the act as a result.

It may help as many as 200,000 state residents bank a bit more money this year now that 18 states including Wisconsin are raising their minimum wages above the federal level of $5.15 next year. Adults in the badger state making minimum wage now recieve $6.50 an hour.

Wisconsin will be left behind in 2007, when it becomes one of only two states still without laws prohibiting concealed weapons. Residents in Nebraska and Kansas can now apply for permits, leaving Wisconsin and Illinois behind.

One more change taking effect in a few days: police departments across Wisconsin must record interviews with suspects arrested for all serious crimes. If they do not comply, prosecutors and defense attorneys could have suspect statements stricken from their cases. The new law came from a task force formed to examine wrongful convictions.

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