Despite having been widely observed in the United States since at least the 19th century, state legislatures are continuing to make tweaks to laws affecting Halloween, celebrated every year on October 31. Here are some legislative updates for Halloween 2022.
Halloween 2022: Reflective Costumes
In New Jersey, S3097 and A806, sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblymember Britnee Timberlake respectively, would require reflective material on children’s Halloween costumes. The measure would assess penalties for between $500-$1,000 on sellers of Halloween costumes intended for use by children that lack reflective tape, fabric, decorative patches, or some other material highly visible in low light. The bill notes that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that children’s costumes—and trick-or-treating bags—be brightly colored and reflective to improve their visibility.
Ruiz and Timberlake had previously introduced both bills in the 2020-2021 Regular Session, but neither progressed. As of October 2022, S3097 remains pending in the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee since September 29, 2022, while A806 has been pending with the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee since January 2022.
Halloween 2022: Sex Offenders
New Jersey Assemblymember Erik Peterson introduced A3557 on March 10, 2022. The measure would prohibit registered sex offenders from distributing candy or other items to children on Halloween. Under the bill, a sex offender who distributes candy or other items to children on Halloween or at an event celebrating Halloween would be guilty of a fourth-degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. As of October 2022, the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee has yet to consider the bill.
Tennessee State Senator Mike Bell introduced SB613 in January 2021. State Representative Lowell Russell introduced a companion bill, HB176, in March 2021. Like the New Jersey bill, the measures would prohibit registered sex offenders from participating in any Halloween festivities, including wearing costumes, displaying decorations, or distributing candy, treats, favors, or gifts. In addition, the bills would establish a curfew for all offenders from 18:00 on October 31 to 04:00 on November 1. As of October 2022, the Tennessee House had passed HB176, but the Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet acted on either the House bill or SB613.
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