Tough New Health Laws Coming Jan 1

Headline Health – A slew of new health laws is set to go into effect when the New Year kicks off on Tuesday.

Affected are blood alcohol limits, hunting regulations, Obamacare provisions, mandatory vaccinations, bake sales, and more – because clearly we don’t have enough laws on the books already to protect us from ourselves and one another.

Get set to comply with these new legal requirements, compiled from news sources.

Don’t see your state listed? Many legislatures and even federal regulators take their cues from trend-setting states like California, New York, and Massachusetts; similar changes could come to your state soon.


AB 1884, Straws at the Customer’s Request: California restaurants will only provide straws or plastic straws to customers who request it. Restaurants may receive fines if they do not comply with this legislation.

SB 1192, Beverages for Children: Restaurants in California may only serve water or milk without flavor in children’s meals that combine a food with a drink.

AB 626, Home Cooking as a Microenterprise: Allows cities and counties to authorize and regulate the sale of home-made foods. Source. 


Connecticut is making flu shots for Pre-K students ages 2 to 4 mandatory. Tots have until Monday to get the vaccine or they won’t be allowed to go back to school. Read more. 

Connecticut law will now protect elements of healthcare such as outpatient care, emergency room care and certain prenatal care. Source. 

An additional law requires certain health insurance policies to cover prosthetic devices, and medically necessary repairs and replacements to them.

Pregnancy will be a qualifying event for special enrollment periods, improving access to care by allowing uninsured pregnant women to enroll in health insurance outside the yearly open enrollment period instead of having to wait until the child is born. Source.


Hunters have a new wardrobe option: blaze pink. HB 4231 states hunters may wear blaze pink or blaze orange during the firearm deer season and upland game season. Source. 

HB 5745 excuses nursing mothers from jury duty at their request. Read more. 

All synthetic cannabinoids (Synthetic Marijuana) will be illegal in Illinois if they are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – or if they’re misused. SB 2341 also closes a loophole in which manufacturers could evade the law with slight alterations to their formulas. Source. 

RECENTLY: States Ranked From 1 To 50 By Health (Sorry, Florida)


Nearly 14 years after Needham became the first town in the country to ban tobacco sales to people under 21, the higher purchase age for cigarettes and other tobacco products will kick in across the state on Monday. Gov. Charlie Baker in July signed a bill imposing new restrictions on tobacco products in Massachusetts, with an effective date of Dec. 31, 2018.

Along with raising the minimum age for buying tobacco products from its current 18, the law prohibits the sale of tobacco products by pharmacies and bans the use of e-cigarettes in places where state law already prohibits smoking. The use of tobacco products including e-cigarettes will also be prohibited on the grounds of any public or private primary, secondary, or vocational school. Massachusetts is the sixth state to push its tobacco age to 21, joining California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine and Oregon, along with Washington D.C. Read more.


Police officers, firefighters and other active duty law enforcement and medical officials diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder will be presumed to have developed the condition in the line of duty under a law set to take effect Jan. 1. The change could make it easier for officials who experience PTSD to access workers compensation benefits. Those diagnosed prior to taking their active duty positions or who’d been demoted fired, or otherwise shuffled in an act of good faith by an employer won’t be afforded the same presumption.

Also, health insurers in Minnesota will be required to set up step therapy guidelines, with clinical review information available to those who ask for it. The step therapy guidelines typically allow patients to start on medication or treatment that is cheaper for the insurer and move on to other more expensive options after that. The law would also allow Minnesotans and their doctors to override the insurer’s steps if they meet certain conditions. Source. 

New Jersey

Residents will have to get health insurance or pay a fine. The law is intended to help stabilize the state’s market after Congress voted to strike the federal individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Read more.  ALSO IN NJ: 3,000 Patients Exposed to STDs At Lax Surgery Center

New York City

The city is banning Styrofoam containers after finding that they could not be efficiently recycled.

The city says it has been working with restaurants and food service providers to prepare for the ban. There will be a six-month grace period before the city starts handing out fines to business owners, however.

Another law expands self-determination for “transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.” The law allows residents to change their gender marker on their birth certificates without a doctor’s permission. Individuals who don’t identify as female or male will also now be allowed to choose an “X” on their birth certificates to mark their gender identity. Read more. 

New York State

The New York Paid Family Leave Law currently gives certain parents eight weeks with their new children. That will increase to 10 weeks and 55 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, up from 50 percent. Read more. 

Drug Take Back Act – A law that takes effect Jan. 6 requires drug stores and mail-order pharmacies to give consumers the ability to return unused prescription drugs through free drop boxes, pre-paid envelopes and other secure options. The act aims to reduce the misuse of medications and protect New York’s water supplies by discouraging consumers from improperly flushing unused drugs into sewers. Source. 

Beginning Jan. 1, all new bathrooms that are publicly accessible must have diaper changing tables. The law applies to all men’s and women’s bathrooms that are either new or renovated, and open to the public. Source. ALSO IN NY: Mrs. George Steinbrenner, Health Philanthropist, Dies


A bill that would ban the most common abortion method used in the second trimester of pregnancy was signed into law Friday by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Senate Bill 145 prohibits the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, in which the cervix is dilated and the contents of the uterus extracted. Though there is no exception in the law in cases of rape or incest, there is one if the mother’s life is at risk. Any abortion provider who defies this law could face fourth-degree felony charges, including prison time and fines. Read more. 


AP — New Year’s Eve revelers in Utah could find themselves with more than a hangover as 2019 dawns. If they drink and drive, they could end up on the wrong side of the nation’s newest and lowest DUI threshold. The 0.05 percent limit goes into effect today (12/30/2018), despite protests that it will punish responsible drinkers and hurt the state’s tourism industry by adding to the reputation that the predominantly Mormon state is unfriendly to those who drink alcohol. The state’s old limit was 0.08 percent, the threshold in most states. Read more.  

Nationwide – Republicans Urge Judge to Allow Appeal on ACA Ruling – U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional on December 14, and the Democratic attorneys general defending the law vowed to immediately appeal the decision. On Friday, the Republican attorneys general who originally filed the lawsuit asked O’Connor to move forward with the appeal process.

The Republicans said that they hoped the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and potentially the Supreme Court, will uphold O’Connor’s ruling so that states would be able to regulate their own individual insurance marketplaces.

“When that happens, the states will be able to enact policies and regulations accomplishing what the ACA promised but could never provide: affordable health insurance for all Americans,” they wrote. Currently, the ACA remains the rule of the land while the appeal process continues. Source. 


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