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Taking a Look at 2023's New Laws

By Richard Dahl | Last updated on

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, it's time to think about what changes the new year may bring into our lives.

One way to do that is to look at the new state and federal laws that went into effect on Jan. 1. As usual, there are thousands of them, so the task of making sense of them can be daunting.

Still, it's possible to identify recurring issues and themes, so we've sifted through many of these new laws to look for trends. Here's a summary:

Minimum-Wage Hikes Everywhere

A whopping 28 states and 41 cities are increasing their minimum wages, most of them starting Jan. 1.

Washington will have the highest state minimum wage at $15.74 an hour. Five other states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon — will have minimum wages of at least $15 an hour by year's end.

The city with the highest minimum wage is Seattle, which boosted it to $18.69.

Abortion Restrictions — and Protections

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, allowing states to make their own decisions about abortion, lawmakers were busy last year doing precisely that.

No issue so clearly demonstrates the "culture war" chasm as much as the nation's new state abortion laws, many of which went into effect last year as lawmakers passed measures to restrict abortion access and provide constitutional protections.

But several measures did go into effect on Jan. 1. California and New York began enforcing new protections, while Tennessee began requiring a physician's prescription for all abortion-inducing drugs.

Look for many more changes in abortion laws this year, however, as lawmakers consider new measures to restrict and protect the practice.

Federal Efforts to Ease Inflation Pain

Some aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 will take hold this year. The main thrust of that law is to provide incentives for the development and adoption of renewable energy resources through tax credits, but it also provides deep consumer discounts on energy-efficient appliances.

In addition, the IRA will cap the price of insulin for Medicaid recipients at $35 a month.

Maryland and Missouri will be rolling out rules and regulations for legal recreational marijuana after voters approved ballot measures last November. There are now 21 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that allow recreational pot smoking.

Psychedelic mushrooms are now legal in Colorado following voter approval of a ballot measure in November. The substance won't be available to consumers until the state works out regulation details, but Colorado now joins Oregon as the only states to decriminalize magic 'shrooms for personal use.

Meanwhile …

  • In Louisiana, a new law requires that anyone who visits a website with content that is at least 33.3% pornographic must be 18 years old. The law says those websites must now obtain verification from users via government-issued identification or "any commercially reasonable method that relies on public or private transactional data."
  • New Hampshire now bans "cyber flashing." It is now a misdemeanor in the Granite State to send a sexually explicit image of yourself without consent.
  • Millionaires in Massachusetts now have a new tax to pay. Last November, voters in the Bay State approved a ballot measure requiring people with annual incomes of at least $1 million to pay a 4% tax to provide resources for education and transportation.
  • Hawaii now bans helium and hydrogen balloons because they harm animals.

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