Category Archives: New Law

Websites Delete Ads

Craigslist has closed its dating ads section in the USA in response to a new bill against sex trafficking. The bill states that websites can now be punished for “facilitating” prostitution and sex trafficking. Ads promoting prostitution and child sexual abuse have previously been posted in the “personals” section of Craigslist. In a statement, Craigslist said the new law would “subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully”.

The US Congress recently passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. Websites are not usually held responsible for the content that members post, as long as illegal material is removed as soon as the service provider is made aware of it. But, the bill states that “websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts” should not be protected. It imposes fines and prison terms for those who own or operate a website that facilitates prostitution. The website Reddit also banned its escorts message board for the same reason.  

 

New Laws in Arizona Summer 2017

The following new laws become effective in Arizona on August 9, 2017:

The Motor Vehicle Division cannot suspend the licenses of those who fail to respond to their citations. 

Dog racing is now illegal across the state. 

For spouses or dependents of military members killed in the line of duty, free car registrations become available.

The minimum wage will be increasing for workers, who can now expect $10 an hour. 

Homeowners with short-term rental homes on sharing websites like Airbnb and Homeaway will now have state taxes collected from the companies. The website companies will then forward the taxes to the Department of Revenue. 

In upcoming elections, pamphlets must be mailed to every household with registered voters showing what will be on the ballots. 

Got one of those plastic covers on your license plate to thwart photo radar?  They are now illegal.

Other laws range from expanding who can teach in Arizona classrooms and when police need warrants to track cell phones to exactly how much of someone’s foot a podiatrist can amputate (it’s a toe — not a foot).

Legislation to bar the state’s newest drivers from using cell phones does not take effect until July 1, 2018.

And a bill to set up procedures for people to argue about what they are charged by out-of-network hospitals does not become law until Jan. 1, 2019.

 

Paid Sick Leave Is Now The Law In AZ

Arizona’s new law mandating paid sick leave starts July 1. Businesses and non-profit groups could face penalties for failing to keep records, post notices and could incur damages for failing to provide paid sick time. Employers who retaliate against workers exercising their rights could face fines of at least $150 per day.

The law mandating as many as 40 hours of paid sick leave, which was approved by voters in November of 2016 that also raised the state’s minimum wage, applies to almost all businesses and non-profits with at least one Arizona employee including entities not headquartered in the state.  The only exceptions are those employed by Arizona’s state or federal government and sole proprietors. So, whether full-time or part-time, temporary or seasonal, all will receive paid sick time. They will be able to use this benefit for a variety of reasons.

The minimum requirements are 24 hours of paid sick time off annually for businesses with 14 or fewer workers, or 40 hours off for entities with 15 or more people. Employees are entitled to receive paid sick-time off; independent contractors are not. The general rule is that if you issue a W-2 to a worker, that person is an employee entitled to the benefit.

The law allows paid leave for various reasons besides sickness or injury such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking or the closing of a child’s school owing to a public health emergency.  Additionally, reasons include taking time off to meet with an attorney, arranging shelter services or securing safe housing, as well as issues on behalf of family members. The definition of family members is quite broad including siblings, grandparents, in-laws and others. Significantly, an employer can request proof or documentation only after a worker has been absent for three days in a row. And, when proof is required, it can come in a variety of  forms such as a doctor’s note, a police report, a letter from an attorney or simply a worker’s own statement that he or she needed time off. Employers generally will be required to grant the time off. Penalties and damages await companies that ignore the new law. 

 

States With Estate Taxes

Nine states are making estate tax changes for 2017.  Altogether, eighteen states plus the District of Columbia impose either estate or inheritance taxes or both. They are Oregon, Washington state, Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

As an example, New Jersey has had a long time $675,000 exemption from the state estate tax but now it will be $2 million dollars.  Similar changes are in effect for the other states.  Because the federal estate tax exemption amount is indexed to inflation, it rose from $5.45 million dollars for 2016 to $5.49 million dollars in 2017.  So, for a married couple the exemption amount is a little shy of $11 million dollars.

How much money you can leave to your heirs free of state tax levies depends on where you live and own property, whom you’re leaving your money to, and whether your estate planning is up to date.  Any doubt about this, please see an estate planning attorney for assistance.

 

 

Sex Offenders Win Big

Registered U.S. sex offenders, banned from social networking, are fighting back in the courts by successfully challenging restrictions as infringements on free speech and their right to participate in common online discussions.

The legal battles pit those convicted of sex crimes against guarantees of individual freedom and the far-reaching communication changes brought by Facebook, Twitter and other websites.

Courts have long allowed U.S. states to place restrictions on convicted sex offenders who have completed their sentences, controlling where many of them live and work and requiring them to register with police.  The bans being challenged forbid offenders from joining social networks or chat rooms. Civil liberties advocates equate participating in these with free speech.

After hearing challenges, federal judges in two states threw out laws or parts of laws that they deemed too stringent. In Nebraska, the decision allowed sex offenders to join social networks. In Louisiana, a new law lets offenders use the Internet for shopping, reading news and exchanging email. A case filed against Indiana’s law is under review. Authorities believe the bans address the need to protect children from pedophiles who prowl online sites visited by kids.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is challenging Indiana’s 2008 law, argues that it’s unconstitutional to bar sex offenders who are no longer in prison or on probation from using basic online services. But prosecutors argue that social networking sites aren’t the only forms of communication and other means are available to accommodate an offender’s free speech rights.

Midterm Election Ballot Success: Minimum Wage

Despite a resounding Republican sweep on Election Day, November 4, 2014, minimum wage increase ballot measures passed in four states with comfortable margins of victory:

Arkansas – The wage will rise from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017 (66% of the vote)

Nebraska – It will go from $7.25 to $9 per hour (59% of the vote)

Alaska – Alaska will see an increase to $9.75 per hour in 2016 (69% of the vote)

South Dakota – It will go from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour (55% of the vote)

Also, Illinois passed a non-binding referendum raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour. Every measure put before the voters on this issue passed. About 420,000 workers in these states will see an increase in their paychecks, thanks to this vote.

In his January, 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. However, Senate Republicans later blocked the legislation. Supporters had 54 votes, but 60 were needed to advance the bill. Soon after, the President signed an Executive Order raising the wage to $10.10 for individuals working on new federal service contracts.

Ironically, voters approved minimum wage increases in the same states that Republicans were swept into office. The GOP is generally opposed to such increases, viewing the action as a job killer. “When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it,” House Speaker John Boehner, said earlier this year. “We know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs.”

There are prominent Republicans who disagree with this position including former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Senator Susan Collins of Maine even tried to broker a compromise for a smaller minimum wage increase earlier this year.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But, the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees. If a state has a wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to their employees. Overall, about 13 states increased the wage this year and, according to estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers, about 7 million workers will benefit from these increases by the year 2017.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from the site, the clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. The Tucker Law Firm expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this blog.

 

Legal Marijuana Approved on Election Day

To add to the growing list of states that allow either medical marijuana or recreational use of marijuana, the following states voted on November 4, 2014 to modify how marijuana is treated:

OREGON: Voters passed Measure 91 which legalizes the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, joining Colorado and Washington state.  The law will also create a regulatory scheme for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

ALASKA: Voters approved Measure 2 which legalized the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana. Adults 21 and older may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for personal use. The measure also legalizes the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.  Consequently, Alaska now joins the legal recreational marijuana bandwagon.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Voters approved Initiative 71 which legalizes adult marijuana use, possession of up to 2 ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use.  However, the sale of marijuana remains illegal.  The Council of D.C. is considering a separate bill that would allow for the regulation and taxation of marijuana sales similar to Colorado and Washington state.

MAINE: Voters in South Portland, the fourth-largest city in the state, approved a measure that removes all legal penalties for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults.  Maine’s largest city, Portland, already legalized recreational marijuana last year.

NEW MEXICO: Voters in New Mexico’s Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties overwhelmingly approved the decriminalization of marijuana in nonbinding ballot questions meant to measure support.

CALIFORNIA: Proposition 47 passed reclassifying most non-serious and non-violent property and drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.  This means that felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will be reduced to misdemeanors.

OHIO: Medical marijuana is now legal in Ohio and there are now ohio medical marijuana dispensaries but you have to have the required medical conditions to purchase it.

FLORIDA: While Amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana in the state failed to pass, it did get 57 percent approval at the ballot. However, the measure required 60 percent to pass.

TEXAS: medical marijuana in texas is legal but you have to get it for epilepsy treatment only and there are a few legal loop holes you have to jump through to even get it then.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from the site, the clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. The Tucker Law Firm expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this blog.

 

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Labor Unions

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Harris v. Quinn that home health-care workers in Illinois do not have to pay dues to public employee unions.  The opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was a narrow loss for organized labor because it did not overrule the court’s “agency shop” precedent applying to most public employee unions.  The challenge to the mandatory union dues, brought by eight home-care workers in Illinois, represented the biggest labor case to come before the court this term, weakening labor’s ability to collect dues from those who benefit from collective bargaining but don’t actually belong to the union. The law had allowed unions to collect dues from all private or public employees that they represent.  Those who objected didn’t have to contribute to political or lobbying activities, but they had to chip in for the unions’ efforts in fighting for better wages, benefits and working conditions.  The home-care workers served individuals with disabilities through the federal-state Medicaid program. They argued they should not have to pay dues for the state’s contract with the Service Employees International Union even though the union is required to represent them and they benefit from its services. The workers, who were represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, contended that public employee unions are engaged in lobbying the government, often on issues the workers oppose. That runs afoul of their First Amendment rights because the union speaks for them. Justice Alito agreed, citing the “bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.”  The ruling was not the worst-case scenario that unions had feared. But it will have a financial impact on major unions that have organized Medicaid-funded home care workers and other workers who aren’t “full-fledged public employees” in the majority’s eyes. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent for her colleagues.  “Nothing separates … Illinois’s personal assistants from any other public employees,” she said. But she applauded the majority’s refusal to go further and impose a right-to-work “opt out” for all government employees. Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from the site, the clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. The Tucker Law Firm expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this blog.  

MN & SC Approve Medical Marijuana

Minnesota recently legalized the medical use of marijuana. Now, the Minnesota Department of Health is seeking a director and about ten other employees for its new Office of Medical Cannabis, which will implement the medical marijuana bill signed into law last month by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Minnesota’s new law lets patients obtain marijuana in a liquid or pill form, but they won’t be allowed to smoke marijuana or use plant materials in vaporizers. Patients need a doctor’s certification to be part of the registry.

Two manufacturers will be certified in 2015, and each will have four distribution points spread across the state by July 2016. Unfortunately, patients will only be able to access marijuana in an extracted form, not the natural flowers, and the law requires patients and their doctors to participate in an onerous and costly study. The compromise also prohibits patients with intractable pain, wasting, and nausea from legally using medical cannabis despite good science showing it works for these terrible ailments.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Treatment Research Act into law this week, clearing the way for children with severe epilepsy to use cannabidiol oil (CBD), a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, to help reduce their seizures if recommended by a licensed physician. If it has been recommended by a licensed physician then you can easily shop cbd online if you wanted. This bill has shown that there is a big confusion between CBD and marijuana and the public is unsure of the differences between them. With CBD, it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC whereas marijuana is over that. If you would like to look into more of the differences then visit https://www.neotericnutra.com/blog/does-marijuana-have-any-of-the-medical-benefits-that-cbd-has.

The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously and cleared the House with a 92-5 vote, will also designate a new clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of CBD in controlling epileptic seizures. Seven other states, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin, have also implemented similar CBD-only medical marijuana proposals in the past four months. Almost half the states and DC now allow the use of medical marijuana. It’s now much easier to get medical marijuana, for example, you can even now get marijuana doctors in florida to help you out if needs be. Just google it and you’ll find a place that will allow medical marijuana.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from the site, the clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. The Tucker Law Firm expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this blog.

FCC and “Net Neutrality”

New rules on “net neutrality” are expected to allow Internet providers to negotiate agreements with content providers on the delivery of traffic to users as long as the deals they strike are “commercially reasonable,” U.S. telecoms regulators said on Thursday.

In a blog post, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said the rules, which he intends to have in place by year-end, would not change the agency’s “underlying goals of transparency.”  The rules, to be circulated to commission members on Thursday, will include “no unreasonable discrimination among users,” Wheeler wrote.

What does this mean?  The proposal follows a court decision that struck down the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules that barred Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast from blocking or “unreasonably discriminating” against online content. Those regulations were challenged in 2011 by Verizon, which claimed the move overstepped the commission’s legal authority, and the FCC has since been working to craft new rules that will pass legal muster.

The rules to be proposed on Thursday, according to an FCC spokesman, will require ISPs to offer “a baseline level of service” to their subscribers while allowing them to “enter into individual negotiations with content providers.” That means that companies like Amazon, eBay and Netflix could conceivably pay ISPs to ensure that their sites load for Web users faster than those of competitors.

In all cases, the FCC proposal says, Internet providers must act in a “commercially reasonable manner,” with agreements between ISPs and content providers subject to review by regulators on a case-by-case basis. The FCC’s planned rules relate specifically to broadband, which is used for most home Internet connections. They won’t cover the mobile Web, which is much more lightly regulated.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from the site, the clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. The Tucker Law Firm expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this blog.