With the New Year comes new policies, rules, and laws, but to list and define them all would take eons to accomplish. Instead of harping on notable newbies, this article focuses on the lesser known, odd, and ironic changes put into place by different states.
Arkansas: No More State-Funded Human Cloning
With visions of Jurassic Park dancing in its head, Arkansas has banned state-funded human cloning, citing a need to respect human life. ACT 653 described cloning as “destructive embryo research,” defining it as medical investigations or procedures that may kill or injure developing humans. Effective Jan. 1, the law prohibits state educational institutions from human cloning for scientific research as well. It does not, however, block funding for in vitro fertilization.
Arkansas: If You’re a Sanctuary City, You Won’t Get Funding
Arkansas joins a few other states in fighting sanctuary cities, which prohibit local and state officers from working with ICE in immigration control. The state’s newest law cuts off state funding for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
California: Hairstyles Are Now Protected Against Discrimination
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act updated its discrimination clause. Effective Jan. 1, the definition of race will now include hairstyles and textures that are traditionally or historically associated with race. These “protective hairstyles” include locks, twists, and braids.
California: Police Use-of-Force Gets a Makeover
When can an officer of the law use deadly force? Previously, it was allowed when there was “reasonable fear” for the safety of the police officer. After the update, the law has stronger and more defined language that will permit deadly force only when necessary to defend against a looming threat of death or serious injury to other officers or innocent bystanders. It does not, however, define “necessary.”
Another new Golden State law prohibits police from using facial recognition software in body cameras. California is not the first to do this; it follows New Hampshire and Oregon, which have already implemented the prohibition.
Illinois: No Artificial Intelligence to Be Used During the Hiring Process
Have you ever self-recorded a video to send to a potential employer in place of a physical or online interview? How do companies use this information? A new Illinois law requires employers to notify applicants and receive their consent if they wish to use artificial intelligence to analyze applicants’ physical aspects, such as facial expressions.
Massachusetts and Missouri Lower Taxes
While Washington state residents pay more than 10% in local tax in the greater Seattle area, Massachusetts and Missouri are giving their citizens and corporate entities a break. It’s taken 20 years, but a 2000 ballot measure to reduce Massachusetts’ 5.95% tax to 5% by 2003 is finally happening. Politicians froze the rate at 5.3% in 2002, but now, in 2020, it has finally fallen to the 5% goal.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in May 2018, signed during his final hours in office a law that cuts corporate income tax from 6.25% to 4%. This new tax rate, beginning in 2020, is one of the lowest in the nation. However, another provision to the law does away with an option for calculating corporate income. This could result in higher tax bills for some multi-state businesses.
New Jersey: Employers Cannot Ask for Salary History
Effective Jan. 1 in New Jersey, AB 1094 prohibits employers from screening applicants based on their salary history. It also prevents them from requiring potential employees to have a past income that falls within specific minimum or maximum criteria. Workers can volunteer their previous wages or benefits if they’d like, and then employers can use the information to determine compensation. New Jersey joins more than 15 other states with similar bans.
Washington: Gift Cards Will Not Expire
Do you have a drawer full of expired gift cards? Well, if you live in Washington State, HB 1727 will prohibit businesses from putting an expiration date on gift cards. The rule, which doesn’t go into effect until July 1, also keeps recipients from getting dinged for inactivity and having to pay service charges. These rules do not apply if the cards are given to charitable organizations as a donation or if the gift is part of a rewards or loyalty program. But those cards you received from Auntie Mary or Grandma Josephine for Christmas may just get an extended life.
Electric Vehicles Get Tax Increase
Remember when there were incentives, tax breaks, and so forth to encourage people to buy electric vehicles, to, you know, save the planet? At least eight states have decided to increase registration fees to boost some of the revenue loss. In Hawaii, the charge will be $50, Kansas residents will pay $100, and folks in Alabama and Ohio will shell out a whopping $200.
Welcome to 2020!
Read more from Kelli Ballard.