New year, new laws in Ohio

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JASON HAWK
EDITOR

New laws and changes to old ones are always going into effect. Here is a look at several that are taking effect in 2020:

Minimum wage

The state’s lowest-paid workers got a 15-cent per hour pay increase as of Jan. 1.

The minimum wage, which is indexed to inflation, was raised from $8.55 to $8.70.

That rate exceeds the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, though that’s not rare. Most states and nearly all cities do — more than 90 percent of American minimum wage workers make more than the federal requirement.

Workers who receive tips got a much smaller increase. Their pay went up five cents from $4.30 to $4.35 per hour.

According to MIT, the living wage in Ohio is $10.78 per hour for an adult with no children, $22.70 for an adult with one child and $27 per hour for an adult with two children.

Another change: The Ohio Department of Commerce now says employers must pay time-and-a-half for overtime exceeding 40 hours. The only exception is for companies that take in less than $150,000 per year gross.

Front license plates

Wrapped into the Ohio biennial budget passed in 2019 was a provision that does away with front license plates on vehicles.

Starting July 1, you’ll no longer be required to have two — just one plate on the back.

Long debated by the General Assembly, the change is a controversial one, especially for law enforcement agencies. They’ve said it will make it more difficult to identify vehicles, and result in more unsolved cases.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia require two plates, which puts Ohio squarely in the minority now. However, none of the states bordering Ohio require two plates.

Just a little longer

Ohio teenagers who want to get a probationary driver’s license will have to wait just a little longer under House Bill 106.

It shifted the eligible age from 16 to 16 and a half.

Remember, that’s not the same as a learner’s permit, which you can still get at 15 and a half.

What’s behind the move? The Ohio Department of Transportation found drivers ages 15 to 17 have been at fault in more than 67,000 crashes in the past five years.

And while drivers ages 15 to 19 make up just five percent of those on the road, they’re involved in roughly 15 percent of crashes.

Own a hybrid?

A tax on going greener has been introduced in the form of fees for the owners of hybrid and electric vehicles.

This year, owners of electric cars will pay a $200 fee and hybrid owners will pay $100.

Those kinds of cars make up just two percent of vehicles on the road.

But lawmakers think that’s about to change. Fuel prices are on the rise and consumers are turning to electric as the climate crisis deepens, and everyone from Ford to Harley-Davidson, Tesla, Audi, Bentley, Mercedes and Porsche are developing electric vehicles.

So legislators are eyeing them as a threat to gas tax revenue, and turning to fees to offset losses.

The ‘pink tax’

Women will get some relief this spring when a tax on womanhood is rolled back.

Signed into law in November, Senate Bill 26 repeals the so-called “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products.

As of February, the state will no longer levy a sales tax on tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins and other products connected to the female menstrual cycle.

A note included in the measure estimates it will cost the state between $3.2 million and $4 million per year.

Teacher tax break

Teachers will get a credit when they purchase school supplies starting in February.

Senate Bill 26 included a deduction for out-of-pocket expenses for teachers. That’s great, because 94 percent have spent their own cash on classroom supplies without reimbursement, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A survey of teachers between 2014 and 2016 shows the average spent was $479 per year. About seven percent reported spending more than $1,000 of their own money to help students.

This year, they can claim a deduction of up to $250.

If you want to fly

Security at the nation’s airports sure has changed in the last two decades.

One more change is on the way as of Oct. 1 — if you want to board a commercial plane, you’ll need a “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s license, a U.S. passport or military identification.

The standard Ohio ID in your wallet won’t cut it anymore. You’ll need one that has a star on the upper portion of the card.

The exceptions are children who fly with parents who have REAL ID-compliant cards. Kids under age 18 won’t need their own to fly.

And the new IDs won’t replace passports. If you want to fly internationally, you’ll still have to get a passport.