At the start of the year, new laws were introduced to address social problems that had persisted the year before. These laws have come into effect to help improve and protect vulnerable people on a federal level. Many of them focus on issues with wages, animal welfare, abortion, internet access, and other dilemmas. These laws help protect the public from being taken advantage of and prevent low-income families from struggling unnecessarily. Some may argue that these new laws push Blue and Red states away from each other, for example, those regarding conceal and carry laws. However, it would appear that many of the laws passed because of the popular support and acceptance by voters. Here are just a few of the most notable laws that have been enacted or are still being voted on in 2022:
Across 21 states, the minimum wage has increased to buffer the rise in inflation that has been steadily growing. With each state allowing a different minimum wage increase, the change ranged from $458 to $3,120 for the full-time employee. This was done to help benefit workers with the ongoing challenge of dealing with job losses, the rising cost of expenses, and other side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in the minimum wage helped protect low-wage workers from being exploited; additionally, it helped increase the economy as the low-wage households spent the extra money they were paid.
The increase of internet users has tripled between 2015 to 2022, creating new opportunities for those with access to the web. With 7 to 8 billion active internet users, the use of mobile devices has increased internet activity. Despite this, there was a drastic reduction in internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that not enough people have consistent internet. A new bill will increase the broadband service provided for low-income households. There will also be a grant program provided to deliver internet safety training. There will also be tax credits and other education costs to support this demographic. Additionally, there will be a provision for higher-income individuals to participate. The tax credit will not exceed $2,000 except in the case of a joint return in one household, which will allow the maximum to be $4,000.
Recently, the House of Representatives voted to legalize marijuana nationwide. The bill to federally legalize marijuana is headed to the Senate to be voted on before it can pass legalization. If it passes, it will reduce the barriers that allow marijuana research and increase access to dispensary products. In previous legislation, the Senate has passed cannabis science laws to allow the study of its effects. If voters approve the reform, this can help reduce the amount of criminal activity and deadly robberies that happen at dispensaries.
Animal protection laws have increased to protect pre-market farm animals from being abused. For example, some laws in Massachusetts and California don’t allow the sale of eggs if the hens are confined in cages. This will also apply to pigs held in veal and gestation crates. In Illinois, dogs and cats can only be adopted from animal shelters. This law prevents kitten and puppy mills from illegally selling any animals. The law helps protect animals from cruelty and neglect that occurs in pet shops and puppy or kitten mills. This also applies to the handling and transportation of domestic animals that the restrictions were placed on.
The No Surprises Act protects patients from unnecessary fees, surprise bills, and other expensive burdens. When patients get emergency services that go to out-of-network providers, these healthcare facilities often charge excessive fees instead of holding them liable for in-network cost-sharing fees. The No Surprises Act protects patients from this practice and will also help uninsured patients receive a good-faith estimate for emergency care as well.
Some states have taken additional measures to increase financial literacy to better prepare students for dealing with their finances as young adults and throughout their lifetime. In Florida, high schoolers are now required to take a financial literacy class before graduation. A one-semester financial literacy course is required for students who enter ninth grade from 2022 to 2023. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia all currently have rules requiring financial literacy in schools. A new bill has been introduced, which will require all public, private, and parochial schools to have a personal financial literacy course between 2022 and 2023.
The original Information Practices Act of 1977 law protected genetic data from being shared without permission. In California specifically, whenever companies that held data had a breach, they had to disclose whenever this occurred. The new law has included genetic data such as samples sent to ancestral family companies. The new law will currently prevent commercial DNA testing from releasing genetic information to foreign entities or any other purpose. The new law is called the American Genetic Privacy Act of 2021. The new prohibition disallows the disclosing of genetic information to China and any entity under the ownership or control of the Chinese government. It also prohibits any unfair practices that violate genetic privacy.
Some agree, while others disagree over the new laws, especially on difficult and inflammatory issues such as anti-abortion laws. In general, many of the laws were welcomed as they provide ease and protection around particular issues that have been problematic in the past. With the economic unrest and current state of war, it is expected that additional laws may be introduced as the new generations acclimate to recent factors.