New state laws for 2023: higher minimum wage, lower taxes and legal jaywalking
Taxes will fall and minimum wages will rise for residents in numerous states as a raft of new laws take effect Sunday that could affect people’s finances and, in some cases, their personal liberties.
Some new laws could affect access to abortion. Others will ease restrictions on marijuana and concealed weapons, or eliminate the need to pay money to get out of jail.
Jaywalkers are being given a reprieve in California thanks to a new law that prohibits police from stopping pedestrians for traffic violations unless they are in imminent danger of being hit by a vehicle.
Here’s a look at some of the laws coming into effect in the new year.
After the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973, access to abortion became a state matter. Laws in 13 states, most of which are controlled by Republicans, ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with various exceptions. Meanwhile, more liberal states have expanded abortion protections.
Legislation taking effect in January are not sweeping policy changes but are intended to make abortion more accessible in California and New York. Abortion is already legal in these states as it is viable, which corresponds to a gestational age of around 24 weeks.
California will allow registered nurses, midwives and physician assistants to perform abortions without a doctor’s supervision. In New York, a law that addresses multiple aspects of health care requires private insurers that cover births to also cover abortion benefits without requiring co-payments or co-insurance.
A new Tennessee law passed in May bans the dispensing of abortion pills through the mail or in pharmacies, instead requiring that they be administered in the presence of a doctor. But advocates on both sides of the issue believe the impact will be minimal as a ban on abortion during pregnancy went into effect following the Supreme Court ruling.
Thanks to large budget surpluses, around two-thirds of the federal states decided on permanent tax cuts or one-off discounts last year. Some of these will come into effect in January.
Income tax cuts mean less money is being withheld from workers’ paychecks in Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. A cut in Arizona’s income tax rate to a flat 2.5% will also take effect in January, a year earlier than originally planned due to strong government revenues.
Iowa will reorganize its income tax brackets and stop taxing retirement income as a first step toward an eventual flat tax.
Kansas will lower its sales tax on groceries. Virginia will reduce tax on groceries and personal care products. Colorado will also eliminate taxes on personal care products, but will impose a 10-cent fee on plastic bags as a precursor to their elimination in 2024.
Other states offer tax incentives for law-and-order jobs. Rhode Island will exempt military pensions from taxes. Georgia will offer a tax credit for donations to local law enforcement foundations.
But not all taxes will go down. In Massachusetts, a voter-approved “millionaire tax” will go into effect, adding a 4% surcharge to incomes over $1 million.
Wyoming is taking steps to collect taxes faster. Producers of coal, oil, gas and uranium have to pay taxes monthly instead of up to 18 months after production. The change comes after some counties struggled to collect millions of dollars owed by failed coal companies.
Minimum-wage workers in 23 states are getting a raise under legislation passed in previous years, some of which provide for annual inflation adjustments. The increases range from an additional 23 cents in Michigan to an additional $1.50 in Nebraska, where a ballot measure approved in November will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9.50 an hour.
The gap continues to widen between the 20 states that charge the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and the 30 others that charge more. The highest state minimum wage in Washington will now be $15.74 an hour – more than double the federal rate.
Another law, taking effect next year, requires Washington employers to include salary and benefit information in job postings rather than waiting for a job posting to disclose such information. Similar pay transparency laws exist in half a dozen other states.
Workers in Colorado and Oregon will face pay cuts starting in January to fund new paid family vacation programs. But Oregon residents will have to wait until September and Colorado residents until 2024 before they can apply for paid time off after a serious illness in their family, the arrival of new children, or recovery from sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking.
Ohio will offer people a new way to spend their paychecks. Sports betting is becoming legal, joining more than 30 states that have passed similar legislation since a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling said it was fine.
Cash bail will be abolished for persons charged with crimes in Illinois. Posting bail has long been a way to ensure arrested people show up for their trials, but critics say the system punishes the poor. With the abolition of cash bail, Illinois joins a group of states, including California, Indiana, New Jersey, Nebraska and New York, that have banned or restricted the practice.
Another area where social justice meets criminal justice is in the relaxation of marijuana laws.
In November, voters made Maryland the 21st state to legalize adult recreational use. That begins July 1, 2023. As an interim step, earlier this year adult possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis will become a civil offense carrying a maximum fine of $100.
Connecticut also applies some of the provisions of a 2021 law that legalized recreational marijuana, including automatically overturning convictions for possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana from 2000 through September 2015. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 21 other states have cancellation laws.
Alabama becomes the 25th state where it will be legal to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
A new law in Missouri prohibits homeless people from sleeping on state land without permission. Violators can face up to 15 days in jail and a $500 fine after an initial warning. The law also prohibits government funds from being used for permanent housing for the homeless, instead directing them toward temporary housing and assistance with drug use and mental health treatment.