At the close of the last night of 2016, many U.S. citizens anxiously awaiting the ringing in of a new year and of many many changes.
The extreme shift in the political climate, brought on by a growing feeling of unrest and disillusionment of many governmental policies and regulations, has promised a change in many of the structures that have been set in place for the past few years. Welcoming this new year meant a drastic shift in consciousness as well as governmental regulation.
In this new year, we are seeing a number of new and amended laws throughout the country. Some are major and will inevitably cause sweeping changes, while others will provide only minimal short-term change; though we can only predict the effect that some of those smaller changes might have on U.S. citizens.
2017 is already seeing a major block of policy shift across the board, so to speak. At the state level, there are many new laws and regulations which have gone into effect that could provide dramatic changes to our communities. Gun control, minimum wage, immigration policy, marijuana, and so many more issues have been brought the attention of the U.S. citizens, as well as the government, at both the state and federal level. For now, many changes have appeared at the state level.
But, with all of these changes, it is easy to think about the possible effects they will have at the federal level at some point as well.
Marihuana in 2017
For the first time in history, marijuana regulations are changing dramatically. No longer just a drug for a counterculture filled with nonworking “slackers”. Marijuana is finally getting recognized as a medicinal plant, as well as being reclassified as a much less insidious drug than it once was. Now considered an industry, the business of marijuana is becoming the latest hot topic to hit many states across the country. Marijuana use is legal in nine states, medically in thirteen.
Colorado still leads the way and continues to set an example, economically, for the rest of the country. This issue is a potential goldmine at both a state and federal level. When properly sorted, the growth potential far outweighs any negative aspects.
Minimum wage increase
Whopping twenty-two states have increased their minimum wages, reflecting the current state of the gap between work and profit. Some are bigger than others. In South Dakota and Montana are welcoming a ten cent per hour increase. New Jersey is raising theirs by six cents per hour.
Ohio, Missouri, Alaska and Florida are enacting a ten cent per hour raise in minimum wage. Some states are clear leaders, such as Arizona who is raising their minimum wage by one dollar and ninety-five cents per hour! Massachusetts and Washington State follow close behind, raising theirs by one dollar per hour. All of these changes will inevitably affect the continually growing labor costs for employees, as well as the potential for inflation.
Interesting to note that minimum wage at the federal level has not changed since 2009 when it was raised from six dollars and fifty-five cents to seven dollars and twenty-five cents.
Paid Sick Leave
In addition to increases in minimum wage, paid time off for sickness has been augmented in various states. Five states right now lead the way in renegotiating different amounts of sick time offered to employees throughout the course of a year. Arizona, Washington, Vermont, Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota all have made various changes to the paid sick time structure set in place by their state governments, in positive ways.
These states are recognizing the value of employees and are beginning to fight for a more equable and realistic model that will work for all, as well as an improvement in overall quality of life.
Gun Control in 2017
Gun law and policy is a very controversial issue that varies from state to state. Some states are proposing a tightening of control, while others, fighting the NRA, are calling for more lenient policies. California banned semiautomatic rifles, adding to their assault weapons ban already in place. Nevada expanded background checks, while Washington State enacted a much higher gun access restriction, enabling extreme protection orders in order to keep weapons away from those citizens considered a threat.
On the other hand, Missouri, West Virginia, Idaho and Mississippi now allows concealed carrying without permit, registration or any form of education necessary. Gun control is a very heated topic in our country today. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be at a federal level or if the change will only be made at the state level.
Laws in Business
It remains to be seen what changes, if any, will occur now that Donald Trump is the forty-fifth president of the United States. Many small business owners are warily optimistic, holding on to their profits with a shaky hand. There are so may unknowns at this point it is hard for anyone to say whether or not any changes in tax or healthcare policy will either negatively or positively affect business owners. There are so many issues which come into play. Only time will tell what changes, if any, will be made.
There have been many changes made to immigration policy. Foreign workers with certain classifications now have a sixty-day period of time to prepare to go back to their home countries. Previously it was up to the federal government to determine that time limit. Now there is a small window for them to finalize their life in the U.S. and get ready to go home. Foreign workers who have different resident classifications will have varying amounts of time to both enter and leave the United States, immigration law states in 2017.
They are provided up to ten days before their official date of entrance or departure to come and go which can reduce the stress of making travel plans, as well as accommodation and employment plans. These laws are tenuous at best, with President Trump’s sweeping bans that are continually taking place in our country right now. Time will tell how any changes to immigration policy at the federal level will fare throughout this presidency.
One thing is clear: there are drastic changes taking place in the United States today.
Use this links to find more about new laws: