From Minimum Wage to Pets New Year Means New US Laws

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Laws pertaining to minimum wage, gun use and sexual harassment are some of those that will changed across the country starting Tuesday. Here is a look at what to expect: Minimum wageThe National Employment Law Project says 19 states and 21 cities will increase minimum wage, which has remained stagnant at $7.25 per hour since 2009. In Alaska, the minimum wage will increase only pennies, from $9.84 to $9.89 an hour. But eight states, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Washington, will raise the minimum wage in phases to up to $15 per hour. Guns and violenceCalifornia will require gun shops to post signs warning of the rules and dangers of handling guns. It will also increase the minimum age to buy a long gun to 21 years old. Illinois will enforce a mandatory 72-hour waiting period before the purchase of any firearm, not just handguns. It will also will allow police or family members to file an order of protection to prevent a mentally unstable person from having a gun.Oregon will increase the age required to own a semi-automatic weapon to 21 and make firearms safety training mandatory.Sexual harassmentCalifornia is banning "secret settlements" in any sexual harassment case, requiring the identification of the accused.Delaware, New York and Washington will put in place new requirements on sexual harassment policy. In New York, all state contractors will be required to draft sexual harassment policies and train their workers. PetsCalifornia will now consider pets as a part of the family in divorce cases, allowing judges to determine who gets custody. It will also ban the sale of privately bred dogs, cats or rabbits. Pet stores will only be able to sell animals from shelters and rescue groups. Residents will still be able to buy pets from private breeders directly. Authorities in Illinois will be able to remove pets from the homes of "reckless owners" for a period of 12 to 36 months for the first violation. Cursive writingOhio will require all students to learn how to write cursive before fifth grade. Medically assisted suicide Hawaii will join six states and Washington, D.C. in allowing doctors to assist terminally ill patients in ending their lives.

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