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.

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About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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