New laws on minimum wage, cannabis use, criminal justice reform take effect in 2023


Service Employee International Union Fight for $15 a Hour holds a rally outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Twenty-seven states are set to increase their minimum wages in 2023. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) — With the new year comes new laws as residents in many states will see some impactful changes beginning as soon as Jan. 1, 2023.

The new laws, passed by state legislatures and ballot measures approved by voters, deal with minimum wage increases, marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform.

Here are some of the notable laws set to take effect.

Minimum Wage

In the new year, 27 states will see an increase in their minimum wage. Most will take effect on Jan. 1, but others will have to wait until further into 2023.

California will lead the way with the highest minimum wage rate of any state at $15.50. Washington D.C.’s is $16.10.

Connecticut and Massachusetts will bring their minimum wages to $15 an hour, completing a series of incremental increases. Six other states will move closer to $15 an hour in 2023. New Jersey aims to reach the mark by 2024, while Delaware, Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island will hit it by 2025.

While some states will have minimum wage increases, workers won’t see the benefits until later in the year. In July, Nevada’s minimum wage will increase to $10.25 for employers providing qualifying health benefits and $11.25 for those that don’t.

Also in July, Oregon’s minimum wage will increase from $13.50 to a new figure that will be determined by the Consumer Price Index.

Despite the increases, twenty states continue to have a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been raised since 2009.

Marijuana Legalization

While the House of Representatives passed a bill in April to legalize recreational marijuana, it is not currently on track to be signed into law federally. However, a number of states have made progress on the issue of legalization.

In November, voters in Maryland and Missouri approved ballot measures that will allow adults to use medical marijuana. This brings the total number of states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana use to 21, plus the District of Columbia.

In March a special election will take place in Oklahoma to decide whether or not adult-use cannabis should be legal.

Criminal Justice Reform

In 2023, several states will have reformed criminal justice laws, in an effort to make the system more equitable.

California will allow people with violent felony records to petition to have their records sealed if they completed their sentence and have not had a new felony offense in four years. The state also decided to restrict the use of rap lyrics in criminal investigations.

Michigan will also make it easier for past felons to shed their criminal record. Starting in April, up to two felony convictions will automatically be expunged 10 years after sentencing or the person’s release from custody. As many as four misdemeanors will automatically be expunged 7 years after sentencing.

Illinois was set to become the first state in the country to end cash bail, however, some counties will not see the effects on Jan. 1, as a Kankakee County judge ruled Wednesday that portions of the “SAFE-T Act” are unconstitutional.

Under the law, courts in 38 counties will begin using “a more equitable system where pre-trial detention is based on community risk rather than financial means,” on Jan. 1, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.

However, following the court’s ruling cash bail can remain in place in 64 counties.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office is expected to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

“We cannot and should not defend a system that fails to keep people safe by allowing those who are a threat to their community the ability to simply buy their way out of jail,” Pritzker said. “I thank the attorney general for his work on this case and look forward to the Illinois Supreme Court taking up the appeal as soon as possible.”