UPDATED 11:49 a.m. PT – Tues. January 1, 2019
From the Golden State to the Big Apple, Americans across the country can expect to see some major policy changes as we kick off the new year.
Starting with minimum wage hikes, workers in a total of 20 states and nearly two dozen cities can expect to see a bump in pay. This includes Seattle, where the city’s largest corporations will be required to pay their employees $16.00 an hour, which is more than double the federal minimum wage.
The move comes despite studies showing when Seattle became the first city in the country to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour last year it actually hurt low income workers. In fact, a University of Washington study showed the wage hike forced employers to slash employee hours and pay, and also cost the city 5,000 jobs.
But minimum wage hikes are not the only new policies that could potentially hurt businesses as at least six states will begin enforcing a sales tax on out of state retailers. This includes Georgia, which will now place a tax on online retailers that make at least $250,000 a year in the state, which critics say will only lead to higher prices for consumers.
Meantime, several states are also set to adopt new abortion statutes.
In Washington a new law will require contraception coverage in health insurance and if a policy covers maternity care, it will also be required to cover abortions. In Kansas a new law – currently facing a court challenge – will ban telemedicine abortions, in which patients seeking abortion pills in consult with doctors through teleconferencing. Tennessee will now require clinics to inform pregnant women of the potential consequences of the procedure, while abortion providers in Arizona will be required to ask women if they were coerced into ending their pregnancy.
New gun control laws are taking effect in California as the state will now ban anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing long barrel guns. Illinois will place a 72 hour hold on all gun purchases and will allow relatives or law enforcement to ask courts to remove guns from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
And what will likely remain a big political issue this year, immigration policies are also taking effect in several states including Tennessee which will now enforce a law prohibiting sanctuary cities.
But in Colorado, Democrat lawmakers have made it easier for illegal immigrants to renew driver’s licenses by lifting restrictions requiring them to renew their licenses in person every three years.