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Which New Laws Will Have the Biggest Impact in 2016?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Last year, same-sex marriage, legal marijuana, and Black Lives Matter made the most legal headlines. But what about in 2016? Many new statutes are set to go into effect this year, and in January alone, the Supreme Court is hearing cases on labor rights, free speech, and double jeopardy.

So which new laws are going to make the most news in 2016? We've got a few guesses:

Guns and Political Ammo

On the one hand, you have President Obama taking executive action tightening gun control laws. On the other hand, you have Texas loosening theirs. New Lone Star State legislation allows licensed individuals to "openly carry a holstered handgun," although private businesses may ban firearms. The licensing process will be the same as it was for concealed carry permits, and those who already have a permit will not need a new one.

Meanwhile, Obama's executive action is designed to tighten the loophole on private gun sales by expanding background checks for all firearms dealers. With these two laws against a backdrop of increased awareness of police shootings, it's sure to be another contentious year for the Second Amendment.

Maximum Minimum Wage

California, Los Angeles, Seattle, and even Walmart all decided to raise their minimum wage this year. Not only will this have a big impact on workers in those locations, but elsewhere as other companies, cities, or states follow suit. Keep in mind minimum wage laws only pertain to employees, and an even bigger legal story in 2015 was trying to figure out who is an employee and who is an independent contractor.

The rise of the gig economy was matched with a rise in advocacy for worker protections, with gig workers looking to have the same rights as employees. This will probably necessitate a change in the standard definition of "employee," but some jurisdictions are already trying to extend labor organization and union rights to gig workers. How courts and legislators decide labor issues will have an enormous legal impact in 2016.

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