New Year brings new laws around the nation

By TREVOR HUGHES AND DONOVAN SLACK | USA Today (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 1, 2016

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The New Year brings a slew of new laws across the country, including a controversial California law allowing judges to seize the guns of people judged a danger to themselves or others.

California's "gun violence restraining order" gives judges the power to seize guns from someone deemed a risk. Proponents say it will reduce suicides and other shootings by empowering family members to remove guns from someone they believe poses a danger.

The National Rifle Association called it "one of the most egregious violations of civil liberties ever introduced" in the state. California law already allows police officers to seize any weapons found during a domestic violence incident and hold them for 48 hours; the new law gives officers the power to search someone's property if a gun violence restraining order has been issued by a judge.

California isn't the only state where new gun laws were to take effect Jan. 1. In Oregon, a person subject to a restraining order or convicted of certain domestic abuse offenses cannot have guns or ammunition.

In Texas, licensed owners will be allowed to visibly carry holstered handguns. Texas joins 44 other states that currently allow open carrying of guns. Not everyone, however, is onboard with the open carry law. Three grocery store chains in Texas have said they will bar open carrying of weapons on their premises, and the pushback against the law has gathered attention under the Twitter hashtag #GroceriesNotGuns.


In North Carolina, a new law allows parents to create a credit report for their children, then immediately freeze it. That makes it harder for crooks to steal a kid's information and use it themselves. Lawmakers said kids' credit can be an attractive target because it's a blank slate that likely won't get checked for more than a decade until they get their first credit card or bank account.

In Oregon, a new law requires employers with more than 10 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to each worker. Oregon is the fourth state to pass a mandatory sick leave law. Full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers are covered under the law. Only federal employees are excluded.

In Michigan, all schools must now keep at least two EpiPen injectors on hand, along with staff trained to use them. The injectors contain epinephrine, and are used to combat severe allergic reactions. Supporters say the pens can be literal lifesavers for kids who have allergies to something like peanuts, but don't know it.

In New York, the minimum wage will jump 25 cents to $9 an hour. For fast food workers, it will go to $9.75, and for those in New York City, it will be $10.50. Minimum wage increases are set to take effect in more than a dozen other states as well, including Colorado and South Dakota.

In Iowa, victims of sex assault, stalking and several other crimes will be able to keep their addresses confidential when registering to vote. Voting records are normally public information, and the advent of electronic databases makes it easy for stalkers to find their victims through public records such as voting logs. Several other states, including California, already have versions of the "Safe at Home" law.

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