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Weed, Guns and Catfish: New Laws and Big Changes in 2017

Do we know where does Donald Trump stands on legalization of marijuana?

We know that Congress came to a standstill in 2016 but it doesn’t mean the country stopped making new laws.

Taxes, minimum wage and gun control have a broad range of transformation coming at the state level as Americans ring in 2017. The trend has shown that the new year will bring far broader legalization of marijuana.

In a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence arguing against pot prohibitions, called an “unprecedented schism between state and federal law in regards to cannabis statutes,” described by The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. While that will weigh up as the Trump administration takes office with a law-and-order mandate, the rift grows wider in 2017.

Party goers Massachusetts and California will have the legal option of having a joint their New Year’s Eve champagne. Legal recreational pot use took effect on December 15th in Massachusetts, approved by voters in November; legal personal use of the drug took effect in California shortly after voters approved it there, though retail sales are still months away from realization.

Nevada legalized recreational pot on January 1st, and Maine will following close behind.

Many voters in the last election approved legalizing the drug for medical purposes in North Dakota, Montana, Florida and Arkansas. Colorado, one of the first states to legalize pot, licensed medical marijuana growers will now be allowed to sell pot.

Colorado voters also backed an increase in the statewide minimum wage.

Starting January 1st, the wage increases from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour for non-tipped workers and will increase by $0.90 per hour every year until it reaches $12 an hour on January 1st, 2020.

Voters in Maine, Arizona and Washington also voted in favor of minimum wage hikes while an appeals court in Arizona recently rejected an effort by state businesses to delay the January 1st execution.

Wage hikes put tax hikes into play.

In Portland, Oregon, the city council passed a so-called CEO tax, a first-in-the-nation ordinance to put a tax surcharge on publicly traded companies whose CEOs earn 100 times more than the median wage of other company employees. A surcharge of 10 percent of the base tax liability would be imposed on those companies beginning on January 1st.

Amazon presents next Christmas or anything from Amazon also will be more expensive for Utah residents in 2017. A new law will require online retailers to charge consumers a 4.7 state sales tax at the point of sale; no more honor system.

Illinois approved a measure tossing out a 6.25 percent “luxury” tax on tampons, on the tax relief side. What a relief to so many women.

Illinois passed dozens of other laws, including starting January 1st it will no longer be illegal to catch catfish using a pitchfork, spear gun or bow and arrow. Essentially, the term “public hunting ground for pheasants” will now be replaced by “public hunting ground for game birds.” This must have been rather important, don’t you think?

On the West Coast, gun owners in California will face new restrictions after Governor Jerry Brown signed a law banning the purchase of semiautomatic rifles with so-called “evil features.” I guess somewhere it is defined what an “evil feature” on a semiautomatic rifle is.

The “evil features” can include pistol grips, flash hiders and bullet-buttons that make it easier to remove and replace ammunition magazines. There was a substantial  increase in gun purchases in the lead-up to the January 1st implementation. Some people must have wanted the “evil features.”

Laws that do not have to stay on the desk of state Senator Jerry Hill is the gun measure,  the sponsor of 17 bills taking effect in the new year. The laws run the scope from how police store their weapons in their vehicles, tour bus safety and restrictions on water use.

While Congress itself largely was inactive over the past year, A new regulation stemming from the Affordable Care Act, and set to take effect January 1st, could have far-reaching implications across the country. This took place while Congress itself largely was inactive over the past year.

Under the change, states will have the option to seek so-called Section 1332 waivers to try to modify parts of Obamacare for their residents. A few states have sought to get that process started but the incoming Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress want to repeal and replace the law as a whole next year. All that could change quickly as Trump takes office.

Trump has a reputation for moving quickly and if that starts immediately, the country will be in a head spin.

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