POLITICS

11 State Laws Going into Effect in 2020

From gun laws to Internet privacy, here are new state laws you need to know about.

As we ring in the new year, states across the country are also ringing in new laws.

We've rounded up the most interesting new statutes that you need to know, from hot topic issues like marijuana and gun reform to other concerns like Internet privacy. Check our your new rights (and restrictions) below:

Higher minimum wages

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009, but 24 states and 48 cities and counties are taking matters into their own hands. Many of these—mostly in California, raising minimum rage to $12.00 an hour—went into effect New Year's Day, with the rest raising minimum wage later in the year.

Legal recreational marijuana in Illinois

Now, Illinoisans 21 and older can buy recreational marijuana. Additionally, individuals with nonviolent marijuana convictions for up to 30 grams of weed are pardoned by the law.

No more discrimination against natural hair in California

There have been far too many cases of black students and employees being discriminated against for their natural hair. Thanks to the Crown Act, that's now illegal in California. Hairstyles like afros, dreadlocks, and braids can no longer be targeted by dress code policies.

More freedom for sexual abuse survivors

In California, sexual assault victims of all ages have three years to sue, as of January 1. Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until age 40 to file lawsuits (up from age 26).

Illinois lifted their 10-year statute of limitations entirely, meaning victims of all ages can press charges whenever they're ready, regardless of time.

Changing gun laws

President Trump has called for "red flag" laws in the wake of recent mass shootings. These laws, which have taken effect in 17 states and Washington, DC, enable those who have seen warning signs to seek a court order that would temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing a firearm.

However, Tennessee is loosening their laws, allowing its residents to take an online course to obtain a concealed carry permit. The course is 90 minutes and the permit costs $65.

Looser traffic laws for cyclists

Portland, Oregon has long been considered one of the country's most bike-friendly cities, and things are about to get a little speedier for two-wheeled travelers. Oregon now allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields instead of having to abide by the same traffic laws as motor vehicles, making for a much less annoying ride.

More plastic bag bans

While bringing reusable bags should be part of everyone's grocery shopping routine, Oregon is the latest state to ban plastic bags entirely. You might have to pay a small fee for paper ones.

Albuquerque, New Mexico has also banned plastic bags.

Stricter laws for kids' car seats

Washington is tightening their laws on child car seats. Once they've reached the manufacturer-set weight and height limits on their forward-facing restraint system, children under 4 feet 9 inches tall need to use a booster seat. That means booster seats for some sixth-graders.

No more cash bail in New York

New York has ended the money bail system for nearly all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges. Exceptions include cases involving sex crimes and domestic violence.

Privacy for Internet users

Californians will be able to opt out of the sale of their personal information online and can sue companies that fail to implement reasonable security practices. To be clear, your data can still be collected—this law just means they must disclose what they're collecting when you ask.

Fewer surprise medical bills

Texas is taking action against ridiculously high surprise medical bills with a list of rules implemented by the Texas Department of Insurance.

"Patients should never be asked to sign away their protections and pay a much higher price when they have no realistic alternative and incomplete information," said Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

CULTURE

Where in the U.S. Can You Actually Survive on Minimum Wage?

"Getting by" is a notably nebulous terms and it's in stark contrast to a "livable wage."

"What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour," writes Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, "is that what you're really selling is your life." The going hourly rate for your life is? $7.25 if you go by the federal minimum wage, which hasn't been raised since 2009. More than half of states mandate a higher minimum wage than the federal level. A minimum wage job will fetch you $10 an hour in Maine; $10.50 in California; and $12.50 in Washington, D.C. But where is that wage enough to get by?

Keep reading... Show less