What new laws are set to begin or change in 2013? A few notable new laws take effect this month. They include new laws passed by voters or those that have come from the state Legislature.
Initiative 502, the measure approved by voters to allow the state to “decriminalize marijuana use, allow for sale and distribution, and tax the proceeds,” will be implemented over the next 11 months. The initiative says that the state will “license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over 21; remove state law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.”
The new law will eliminate state-law prohibitions against producing, processing and selling marijuana, and make it subject to licensing and regulation by the Liquor Control Board. It will also allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged 21 and over, and will impose 25 percent excise taxes on its sale.
Even though it has already been approved, Initiative 502 will be implemented over a period of a year or more. Legal possession and DUI limits went into effect on Dec. 6, 2012. Other rules must be finalized by Dec. 1, 2013. Until rules are established and licenses issued, retail sales to the general public are not allowed. Other important parts of the law stipulate that businesses must be located 1,000 feet or further from public schools, and public use of marijuana becomes a civil infraction.
Other laws implemented or changed include:
Carbon monoxide alarms are now required in existing apartments, condominiums, hotels, motels and single-family homes, with the exception of homes that have been legally occupied before July 26, 2009. Those single-family homes are not required to have the alarms until they are sold.
The state minimum wage has increased to $9.19 an hour, up from $9.04 an hour. For a full-time worker, the 15-cent-per-hour increase represents an additional $312 in wages before taxes.
The basic fee for hauling a load of solid waste to a King County transfer station or drop box will increase $12 to $129.40 per ton. The minimum fee will increase from $20 to $22.
The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program ended on Dec. 29. The extension of this program is based on the actions of Congress in the last days of 2012. If approved and implemented, the program extends benefits to unemployed individuals who have exhausted all of their other unemployment benefits.
Barbless hooks will be required to fish for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout in the mainstream Columbia River.
The Washington state 2013 Regular Legislative Session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 14 and end on April 28, 2013.