WASHINGTON, December 30, 2017: As we begin the New Year on January 1, 2018, a number of important new laws on the state and local level will go into effect across the country. These new 2018 laws run the gamut from marijuana use, to minimum wage increases more stringent gun-related regulations.
2018’s New Laws
New Laws: Marijuana Usage
California is scheduled to open the doors of their cannabis market on Monday, January 1 at 6 a.m. Residents 21 years and older will be able to legally purchase up to an ounce of marijuana. They can also purchase a maximum of 8 grams of cannabis concentrates.
California joins Maine and Massachusetts, both of which allow legal recreational pot use this year, bringing the total of legal marijuana states to eight.
Looking ahead, residents of Maine must wait until July to start smoking marijuana in that state.
New Laws: Minimum Wage
New laws adjusting various state and local minimum wages will become effective in 2018.
Employees in several states will see an increase in the minimum wage. A total of 10 states will begin to increase the minimum wage in phases. The goal will be to reach the $15 per hour mark. Employees in eight states will see minimum wage cost-of-living adjustments. Those states include: Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota.
In California, the minimum wage increases by 50 cents. Companies with 26 or more employees must pay employees at least $11 per hour. Companies with less than 25 employees will pay a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. New York will increase its minimum wage by a dollar, for a 2018 minimum wage of $11 per hour.
In Manhattan, the minimum wage for employers with 10 or fewer workers will rise to $12 from the current $10.50 per hour. Businesses with 11 or more workers, must increase their minimum hourly employee wage to $13.
New Laws: Guns
California has enacted more stringent new laws regarding ammunition. In Tennessee laws restricting carry permits for members of the military have been liberalized..
Gov. Jerry Brown and California’s Democrat-controlled state legislature have put new restrictions on gun ownership. In 2018, gun owners will no longer be able to purchase ammunition online and have it shipped to their homes. Purchasers will now pick up their orders from a licensed vendor. Also beginning in 2018, people who have hate crime convictions will not be able to legally own a gun for a period of 10 years.
In Tennessee, members of the military will no longer need to pass the firing-range portion of the training requirement to obtain a carry permit if they can prove they have previous small-arms training while serving in America’s armed forces.
New Laws: Tax Breaks
In 2018, the New Jersey will launch an income tax credit for mental health professionals who donate a certain number of hours counseling members of Gold Star families. Also in 2018, Gold Star families will receive free or reduced-price admission to state beaches, parks, museums, and national forests.
Arkansas will no longer charge a state income tax on military retirement pay. Arkansas currently does exempt active duty military pay from state income taxation. In January, the state will exempt military retirement pay as well.
New Laws: Election
New laws regarding voter ID will be put into place, perhaps reluctantly, in Texas and West Virginia. Texas voters will be allowed to cast their vote without a photo ID if they can show a “reasonable impediment” to getting one.
In 2018, West Virginia voters will have more options as to what types of ID they can show at polling stations. Voters will be able to show drivers’ licenses and passports. Non-photo IDs like bank debit cards, utility bill, and concealed carry permits will also be acceptable.
New Laws: Family Leave
Employees in New York will soon be eligible for paid family leave to care for a sick relative or a newborn, foster or adopted child. Full-time employees will be eligable for up to eight weeks of ‘family’ leave. In 2021, the leave period will increase to 12 weeks.
Employees in Washington state will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.