Hundreds of new laws are in effect around the country as of January 1, 2018. Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy and eyebrow-raising.
In California: Legal marijuana, with the usual federal catch
One of the year’s highest-profile new laws is California’s effective legalization of marijuana and other cannabis products. This is a state-wide ruling for adults 21 and older, without the previous requirement of prescribed medical use. California’s current cannabis policy is the result of the November 2016 passage of Proposition 64 by the state electorate, and subsequent legislative action that created The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. In September 2017, the legislature passed Assembly Bill 133, which amends various state codes to permit the statewide legalization and regulation of cannabis products.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and municipalities can still tighten control or even block sales. It’s complicated enough that the state has established a Cannabis Portal—and new enough that the portal says it’s still under construction at the time of this writing.
In Illinois: More protection for companion animals
SB1261 in the Land of Lincoln amends the state’s marriage statutes to provide more specifically for the fair treatment of companion animals (that is, pets, not service dogs and the like). Parties may petition a judge for sole custody during and after a divorce. Courts will then issue judgments based on the best interest of the animals. Most states treat pets like inanimate property.
In Nevada: Leave for coping with domestic violence
SB361 allows employees to take up to 160 hours of leave in a year to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence, whether something that affected them personally, or a family or household member. The leave is subject to a handful of conditions. It doesn’t have to be paid; it must be within one year of the act; and employees must have been with the company for at least 90 days.
In Texas: No ID required for mobile wallet purchases
SB1381 clarifies that Texas merchants may (but are not required to) demand that a customer show photo ID before accepting a credit or debit card payment. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are exempt. Knowing a card’s PIN isn’t enough to convince the State of Texas that a customer is the legitimate cardholder, but being able to unlock a smartphone wallet is.
In New York City: Curtailing tobacco and nicotine products
The new year in New York City brings a continuing shift against the legal sale of cigarettes and related items. This is the final year the city’s pharmacies will be licensed to sell tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Many pharmacies, largest of which is CVS, already refuse to sell tobacco products. The city is also requiring e-cigarette vendors to have licenses. They are also capping the number of both tobacco licenses and e-cigarette licenses below current figures.
In Illinois: “Right to Yelp” protects consumer voices
SB1898 bans sales contracts that constrain the buyer to make public statements about the seller’s merchandise or services, and prohibits retaliation by the seller if such statements are made. Buyers cannot voluntarily waive their rights to speak. The law is casually known as “Right to Yelp,” protecting consumers who make unflattering or critical remarks about deals gone wrong.
In Vermont: Social media privacy for employees
The State of Vermont now prohibits employers from demanding access to, or information from, employee social media accounts under normal circumstances. There are exceptions for regulatory compliance and investigations into fraud, theft, and harassment. But bosses can’t go fishing for dirt.
In California: New workplace laws
The state of California has passed almost 30 new laws that workplaces will have to follow this year. They cover everything from minimum wage increases, to inquiring about criminal history and prior salary during the interview process. To learn more about these new salary-history bans, download our new white paper.
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