New State Laws to Take Effect July 1

Early July brings more than just hot weather, cookouts and firecrackers.  For many states, July 1 is the first day of the fiscal year and the effective date for new laws.

Minimum Wage: On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage will increase in Maryland, Oregon and Washington, D.C.  In Maryland, the wage will increase from $8.25 per hour to $8.75 per hour, and will be $10.10 by July 1, 2018.  In Washington, D.C., the wage will increase from $10.50 to $11.50, making it the highest minimum wage among states.  A 2016 Oregon law increases the rate incrementally, starting with an increase to $9.75/hour on July 1, 2016. The law proscribes annual incremental increases until the rate hits $13.50 on July 1, 2022 and ties the rate to inflation thereafter.  The law sets up different rates for nonurban areas and for the Portland metro area.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Vermont becomes the first state to require all products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to have a label that says “produced with genetic engineering.”

Fantasy Sports: In four states – Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia – daily fantasy sports sites will become legal, after the legislatures passed bills to formally legalize, regulate and tax the contests. Virginia and Indiana will charge an initial $50,000 fee for fantasy sports websites to operate in those states. Tennessee will impose a 6 percent revenue tax on such companies.  Mississippi’s bill only legalizes the sites until July 2017, when it will be reconsidered.   

Contraception: In an effort to bring gender parity to health insurance regarding family planning, a new Vermont law requires all health insurance providers to cover vasectomies with no cost, co-pays, or deductibles.

Campus Security:  Georgia will allow students 18 and older to legally carry Tasers and stun guns on the state’s public college and university campuses.   Tennessee will allow faculty and staff with concealed weapons permits to carry handguns at public colleges and universities.

Firearms:  Idaho will allow residents 21 and older to carry concealed weapons without permits or mandatory training, making it the 10th state with such a policy.  Similar laws took effect earlier this year in Mississippi and West Virginia.

In Virginia, domestic abusers will have to surrender their firearms within 24 hours of being served a civil, family abuse final protective order or face felony charges. The law does not apply to temporary or emergency orders, which do not require a judicial determination or personal service of the order. The law does not require a person subject to a permanent order to surrender firearms to a law enforcement agency; he or she only need to hand the firearms over to a third party, which may include a friend or family member who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. 

Education:
A new Florida law allows parents to enroll a child in any public school in the state, as long as the school has room, the parents provide transportation, and the student is not under an expulsion or suspension order.

In Indiana, colleges and universities will be required to provide students with specific information about the student loans, including loan totals, total payoff amount, monthly repayment amounts, and the percent of borrowing limit reached. In Connecticut, the “Student Loan Bill of Rights” goes into effect, providing new oversight and regulations for student loan lenders.

Health:
In Georgia, a bill named after former President Jimmy Carter prohibits insurers from requiring patients with advanced cancer to first fail to respond to other treatments before trying more aggressive – and often expensive – treatment.

California will no longer allow parents to cite philosophical objections to avoid vaccinating their children against measles, mumps and rubella. The law now requires a valid medical reason for an exemption and will apply to public and private schools.

In Massachusetts, a comprehensive opioid bill will require overdose and naloxone patients in emergency departments to undergo a substance abuse evaluation by a licensed mental health professional or through an emergency service program within 24 hours.  Connecticut will join Massachusetts in restricting initial prescriptions for opioid painkillers to seven days in most cases.

A new Florida law prohibits doctors and hospitals from charging out-of-network costs for visits to the emergency room and for services at covered hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Public Safety:
New laws in Florida and Georgia will speed up the testing of sexual-assault evidence kits, known as rape kits.  In Florida, local law enforcement agencies must submit the kits to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement within 30 days of the beginning of their investigations, or after being notified by victims or victims' representatives that they wish the evidence to be tested. The Georgia bill requires care providers who administer rape kits to immediately notify local law enforcement at the victim's request. Officers then have 96 hours to collect the evidence and 30 days to turn it over the the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for DNA analysis. An Idaho bill creates a new statewide system for collecting and tracking DNA evidence of sexual assault and creates standards on how medical clinics use rape kits to collect fluids after a suspected sexual assault. It also implements a timeline if law enforcement agencies decide to send the evidence to a state forensic laboratory for testing, unless the victim requests otherwise.

A new Kansas law expands the definition of harassment in the state’s stalking law to include flying an aerial drone “over or near any dwelling, occupied vehicle, or other place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from uninvited intrusion or surveillance.”

Transportation: Drivers in Maryland and Washington will pay more at the pumps, as new gas tax increases go into effect.  Drivers in Washington State will see an increase in the gas tax of 4.9 cents starting July 1. It’s the final installment of a nearly 12-cent increase approved by the legislature in 2015 and it will push the state surcharge to 49.4 cents per gallon, making Washington’s the second highest gas tax in the country after Pennsylvania.  Maryland’s gas tax will increase nine-tenths of a cent to 33.5 cents a gallon on July 1.  A 2013 bill approved several increases and indexed the tax to inflation. The state’s gas tax has gone up a total of 10 cents over the last three years

Elections:  Online voter registration for Tennessee residents through the state coordinator of elections’ website takes effect.

Employment: West Virginia became the 26th state to implement a “right-to-work” law prohibiting work contracts that require employees to pay union dues as a condition of their employment.