New year, new state laws: From minimum wage to gender-affirming care

New year, new state laws: From minimum wage to gender-affirming care

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A host of new state laws came into effect across the country Monday, reflecting a national rift on key issues and how to address them that doesn’t seem to be shifting course anytime soon.

Many of the measures are sure to attract criticism and even mockery from their opponents. 

For instance, California now mandates large toy stores to include a gender-neutral aisle, regardless of how individual toys are marketed.

Meanwhile, Texas followed Florida in banning diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices on college campuses.

But some new state laws are in direct opposition to each other, widening the differences in how people in the United States live from state to state.

The minimum wage is rising primarily in 25 states, only seven of which are politically dominated by the GOP. 

The highest minimum wages, at $16.28 and $16 respectively, are now in Washington state and California. The lowest, the federally-mandated $7.25 an hour, is still the law in 20 states, a majority of them controlled by Republicans.

The partisan split is also visible in new laws on reproductive rights and gender-affirming care.

Idaho’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors, enacted in April, is in effect as of Monday, threatening doctors and practitioners with $5,000 fines and felony charges for providing minors with medications or procedures like puberty blockers or sex-reassigning surgeries.

Similar laws came into effect Monday in Louisiana and West Virginia, though West Virginia’s law has significant carve-outs for parental consent, concurring medical opinions, or danger of self-harm.

California, on the other hand, will now offer protections to doctors who provide abortions, contraception or gender-affirming care to out-of-state patients, and Maryland will require Medicaid to cover gender-affirming care.

Some blue states now have expanded gun safety regulations — a red flag law is now in effect in Minnesota, meaning families will be able to ask law enforcement to take away individuals’ guns in certain cases.

Michigan’s red flag law comes into effect next month, California is upholding tighter regulations on places where guns are banned, Washington state is expanding its waiting period on gun purchases to all guns, Illinois is banning certain high-powered guns, and Colorado is banning ghost guns.

The new laws are also targeting education.

Illinois now prohibits book bans, singling out a partisan battleground where the left takes freedom of expression as its banner, and the right champions the protection of minors.

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