New State Laws Take Effect — But They’re Different From State to State
The pastiche of new state laws taking effect as the New Year begins underscores how different we are — at least in the eyes of legislators — on matters small and large.
In New York State, for example, Styrofoam containers for takeout food are now prohibited by law, as are those pesky Styrofoam peanuts. But 46 other states have no such statewide prohibition, at least not yet. In California it’s now illegal to distribute tiny ketchup packets unless they are specifically requested, while in Rhode Island single-use straws are similarly restricted.
Twenty-one states are raising minimum wage, but differences are dramatic. Virginia implemented one of the largest increases, $1.50 an hour, bringing the state’s rate to $11.00. Michigan, on the other hand, gave minimum-wage earners a minuscule 22-cent increase to $9.87 per hour.
Not surprising in light of the nation’s political climate are new laws about voting. California and Nevada have made voting by mail a permanent option for all registered voters. Arkansas, however, has a new law prohibiting the distribution of absentee ballots unless specifically requested.