New Year’s Day is more than just a festive holiday and a turning point on the Gregorian calendar. It’s also the occasion when many laws and administrative rules go into effect, as prescribed by our Legislature. Here’s a summary of some of the new laws and rules taking effect in Washington today:
- The minimum wage in Washington is increasing to $9.19 as of today, in accordance with Initiative 688. That’s good news for working men and women whose employers pay them no more than what the law requires (which is not a living wage). Unfortunately, the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour. Washington and Oregon have higher minimum wages which are also the highest in the country.
- Carbon monoxide alarms are now required in all homes. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can build up in enclosed spaces and result in serious injury or death. A carbon monoxide alarm is the only way to detect a harmful buildup of the gas, which is why the law now requires alarms to be installed. Don’t have alarms installed on each floor of your house yet? Home Depot has a large selection. If you’d rather keep your dollars in the community, pick one up at a local hardware store like McLendon’s.
- Starting today, manufacturers of brake friction materials are required under one of the provisions of the “Better Brakes” law to report to the Department of Ecology the concentrations of copper, nickel, zinc, and antimony in their products. The goal is to reduce the amount of toxic deposits left behind on the state’s roadways by automotive brakes.
- Attention anglers: The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife wants you to know that barbless hooks are now required for salmon, steelhead (the state fish) and cutthroat trout in the mainstem Columbia River above McNary Dam. See F&W’s announcement for more details.
- Mandatory recycling of compact fluorescent bulbs begins today. RCW 70.275.080 prohibits Washingtonians from knowingly placing light bulbs that contain mercury in the trash. CFL bulbs containing mercury must be recycled. No exceptions! Ecology has a web page with more information about properly disposing of CFL bulbs.
- The Underground Utilities Damage Prevention Act is now in effect. This legislation is an update of Washington’s so-called dig law, and it assigns new responsibilities to local governments and contractors when soil is to be excavated. Higher penalties are also now in effect for violations of the law.
This is an open thread.