The new year ushered in hundreds of new laws across the country. Here’s a quick look at just some of the new legislation that took effect at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1.
Following the “Fight for $15” protests, minimum wage is raised in 18 states.
Eighteen states raised their minimum wage, some to more than $10 per hour, on New Year’s Day. New York did the same a day earlier, and another 22 counties and cities also raised their wage floors with the start of 2017, according to the National Employment Law Project.
In New York and California, the increases come with a long-term plan to incrementally boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Protesters advocating for the increases rallied across the country last year in a campaign dubbed the “Fight for $15.” The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour.
Legal recreational marijuana expands to other states.
Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Nevada, making it the seventh state to legalize. Maine will soon follow suit. Its law, which voters approved in November, takes effect Jan. 30.
California and Massachusetts voters also gave marijuana the sign of approval, but Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass., delayed the opening of marijuana shops in his state until mid-2018.
California’s flurry of new laws on hands-free driving, Uber and “bullet buttons.”
California passed nearly 900 laws that went into effect for the new year.
Among them was a law that broadened restrictions over how drivers used their cellphones while driving. Previous laws banned calling and texting while driving. Now, it’s also illegal for people to hold their phones while driving, including taking a photo or shooting video. The exception is if drivers have their phones mounted somewhere on the dashboard. Similar legislation was also enacted in Massachusetts.
California also expanded its gun control efforts, including prohibition of assault weapons equipped with a “bullet button,” a device that can quickly remove a magazine from the firearm.
The state also now requires ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to undergo background checks for all of their drivers. Schools are banned statewide from using the term “Redskins” as a mascot. And the state is the 32nd in the nation to pass a “right to try” law that allows terminally ill patients to access experimental drugs.
Other notable laws:
- In Missouri, it’s no longer required that gun owners who carry concealed weapons get training or a permit.
- Berkeley, California, was the first city in the nation to pass a soda tax on sugar-sweetened beverages after it was approved in 2014. Now, Philadelphia is the first major U.S. city to pass a similar measure, charging consumers one and a half cents per ounce.
- Alabama abolished common law marriage. That now leaves eight U.S. states that permit common law marriage.
- Cosmetologists in New York and Illinois are now required to take a one-hour domestic violence course over how to detect signs of abuse or sexual assault.