Skip to main content

New Year, new laws: Obamacare, pot, guns and drones

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 40,000 measures set to become law in 2014
  • Obamacare mandate is the big federal law going into effect
  • But states and cities have laws impacting minimum wage, shark fins and gender identity
  • New gun control failed at federal level, but Connecticut acting on its own

Washington (CNN) -- Not everyone subscribes to a New Year's resolution, but Americans will be required to follow new laws in 2014.

Some 40,000 measures taking effect range from sweeping, national mandates under Obamacare to marijuana legalization in Colorado, drone prohibition in Illinois and transgender protections in California.

Although many new laws are controversial, they made it through legislatures, public referendum or city councils and represent the shifting composition of American beliefs.

Federal: Health care, of course, and vending machines

New Year, New Laws
Colorado prepares for legal pot
Colorado pot sales to begin in 2014

The biggest and most politically charged change comes at the federal level with the imposition of a new fee for those adults without health insurance.

For 2014, the penalty is either $95 per adult or 1% of family income, whichever results in a larger fine.

The Obamacare, or Affordable Care Act, mandate also requires that insurers cover immunizations and some preventive care.

Additionally, millions of poor Americans will receive Medicaid benefits starting January 1.

Thousands of companies will have to provide calorie counts for products sold in vending machines.

Local: Guns, family leave and shark fins

Connecticut: While no national legislation was approved to tighten gun laws a year after the Newtown school shooting, Connecticut is implementing a final round of changes to its books: All assault weapons and large capacity magazines must be registered.

Oregon: Family leave in Oregon has been expanded to allow eligible employees two weeks of paid leave to handle the death of a family member.

California: Homeless youth are eligible to receive food stamps. The previous law had a minimum wage requirement.

Delaware: Delaware is the latest in a growing number of states where residents can no longer possess, sell or distribute shark fins, which is considered a delicacy in some East Asian cuisine.

Illinois and drones

Illinois: passed two laws limiting the use of drones. One prohibits them from interfering with hunters and fisherman. The measure passed after the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it would use drones to monitor hunters. PETA said it aims through its "air angels" effort to protect against "cruel" and "illegal" hunting.

Also in Illinois, another law prohibits the use of drones for law enforcement without a warrant.

Gender and voting identity

California: Students can use bathrooms and join school athletic teams "consistent with their gender identity," even if it's different than their gender at birth.

Arkansas: The state becomes the latest state requiring voters show a picture ID at the voting booth.

Minimum wage and former felon employment

Workers in 13 states and four cities will see increases to the minimum wage.

While most amount to less than 15 cents per hour, workers in places like New Jersey and Connecticut will see a slightly larger increase.

New Jersey residents voted to raise the state's minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 per hour. And in Connecticut, lawmakers voted to raise it between 25 and 75 cents to $8.70. The wage would go up to $8 in Rhode Island and New York.

California is also raising its minimum wage to $9 per hour, but workers must wait until July to see the addition.

Rhode Island: It is the latest state to prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to signify if they have a criminal record on a job application.

Social media and pot

Oregon: Employers and schools can't require a job or student applicant to provide passwords to social media accounts.

Colorado: Marijuana becomes legal in the state for buyers over 21 at a licensed retail dispensary.

(Sourcing: much of this list was obtained from the National Conference of State Legislatures).

CNN's Christine Romans and Emily Jane Fox contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Looking toward 2014
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
How did you say it? "Twenty fourteen" or two-thousand and fourteen?" According to our poll, the choice was clear.
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
Not everyone subscribes to a New Year's resolution, but Americans will be required to follow new laws in 2014.
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 2049 GMT (0449 HKT)
Although all 435 House seats are up in November's midterms, redistricting has reduced the number of swing races and made it easier for political watchers to keep up with those seats truly up for grabs.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
Unlimited time and money? Here are some of the dream vacations we wish we were taking in 2014
December 30, 2013 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
Are you preparing to squeeze into your nonrefundable middle seat with no extra legroom and no lunch included for your next flight? Here are some of our wishes for the new year.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 0603 GMT (1403 HKT)
Deluxe lodgings in Lhasa. A canyon-side retreat on the outskirts of Muscat. A private island in Doha. Sparkly hotels opening around the world in 2014 come with features just as cool as their settings.
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
Here's a rundown on the key political questions for 2014
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 0119 GMT (0919 HKT)
It's unlikely commercial aviation stories in 2014 will surpass those of 2013 for pizzazz or significance.
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 1935 GMT (0335 HKT)
Intrepid travelers need not leave the United States to find distinctive cities, spectacular open spaces and wide beaches to explore.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Here's a look at some of the year's movies we think you shouldn't miss out on.
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 0554 GMT (1354 HKT)
Wondering where to go for your next holiday? Experts explain which destinations we should be checking out in 2014.
ADVERTISEMENT