TOP LEGAL NEWS OF THE WEEK

New year means new laws taking effect across the country

Hundreds of new laws and regulations are in force across the country starting Jan. 1, 2019, affecting job applications, wages, gun sales, as well as other aspects of everyday life for individuals and businesses. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from 2017 has several provisions that take effect in 2019, including the elimination of the deductions for employer-paid transportation benefits and the business deduction for entertainment expenses, at least through 2025. The tax law also cuts a business expense deduction related to nondisclosure agreements in connection with the settlement of sexual harassment claims. Also starting New Year’s Day, alimony is not deductible for payers and is no longer taxable income for recipients. The new law affects cases going forward and not orders already in place.

The 2018 omnibus budget bill amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit an employer from keeping tips received by its employees for any purposes.

Jan. 1 also brings wage changes for many Americans. The minimum wage for federal government contractors will increase to $10.60 per hour. The minimum for cash and tipped contract employees will rise to $7.40 per hour. Additionally, 18 states will raise their minimum wage, with Washington state, Massachusetts and California (in some circumstances) raising it to $12 per hour.

New state laws are affecting how Americans are hired. Connecticut and Hawaii join five other states and Puerto Rico where employers will no longer be allowed to ask prospective employees about their salary histories during job interviews.

A federal order banning bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre that makes it easier and faster to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon, will take full effect in March 2019. California is instituting a lifetime gun ownership ban for those involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility. California, the District of Columbia and five other states (Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont) passed laws in 2018 to raise the minimum age for the purchase of long guns from 18 to 21. Many of those laws take effect on Jan. 1.

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