New Year's Day brings new laws aimed at keeping criminals from buying rifles in California, lobbyists from lavishing gifts on politicians in Florida and landfills from overflowing in Connecticut and Wiscon- sin.

The federal government already is raising alcohol and cigarette taxes and the top income-tax rate on Jan. 1.

But the tax burden is going up even more in some states, particularly New Jersey, which has a $1.3 billion income tax hike tied to a school financing overhaul.

Washington state hopes to smoke out $18 million a year with a $10-a-pack penalty on untaxed cigarettes, often illegally bought by non-Indians on Indian reserva- tions.

Delaware is increasing cigarette taxes 5 cents a pack and gas taxes 3 cents a gallon. Motorists in Massachusetts and Florida face a 4-cent increase. Just a month ago, the federal government imposed a nickel-a-gallon gas tax increase.

Californians will see their sales tax drop by a quarter-cent with the expiration of a revenue raiser for earthquake repairs. But gas taxes go up a penny, in what will become a New Year's tradition through 1994.

Indiana is going to cut a tax. The motor vehicle excise tax was so unpopular that thousands crossed state lines to avoid it. On a new car worth $15,000, the first-year tax will drop from $413 to $289.

Several new laws deal with crime, corruption and drugs. California becomes the first state to require a waiting period and a police background check to buy rifles and shotguns.

"In 1991, there will be people who would have died a violent death who won't die," Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly said.

Another California law allows courts to suspend the driver's license or future driving privilege of anyone older than 13 convicted of graffiti vandalism.

New Hampshire and Illinois laws authorize longer sentences for "hate crimes" such as those motivated by the victim's religion, race or sexual preference.

Florida is banning state legislators and some 30,000 other public officials from soliciting or accepting any gift over $100 from a lobbyist, a lobbyist's employer or a political action committee.

New Hampshire will let judges revoke driver's licenses for up to life upon conviction of possession with intent to sell drugs.

South Carolina is requiring those who do substantial business with the state to certify they will provide a drug-free workplace.

Nebraska is trying to stamp out drugs by imposing taxes, ranging upward from $100 an ounce on marijuana. Many other states have tried this tactic, which gives authorities another way to prosecute and fine drug dealers who fail to obtain and affix the appropriate tax stamp to illicit items.

Several new laws are aimed at better waste disposal. Connecticut's recycling law requires trash collectors to report any residents and businesses who fail to separate corrugated cardboard, newspapers, office paper, glass and metal food containers, leaves, scrap metal, car batteries and waste oil for recycling.

Wisconsin is phasing in mandatory recycling. Phase one prohibits disposing of car batteries, waste oil or major appliances in landfills or incinerators. Indiana is requiring stores that sell automotive batteries to accept customers' used batteries for recycling.

Michigan is attacking the problem of tire dumps, which have been sites of major fires and Asian Tiger mosquito infestations. The law will require scrap tire haulers and collection sites to register with the state.

Tennessee is imposing a $250 fine for anyone releasing more than 24 balloons of the non-biodegradable kind that choke sea animals. Some lawmakers who feel the measure is full of hot air calculated that a crowd in the University of Tennessee's 95,000-seat football stadium could still legally release about 2.3 million balloons.