Today is the last day of the year, and it’s the last day you can get single-use plastic bags at store checkouts in Oregon, thanks to a new law that takes effect tomorrow and bans them. It also requires a 5 cent charge on paper bags. The idea is to encourage people to employ their own reusable bag at the store. Other changes are set for the new year. Oregon’s gas tax goes up a couple of cents, and other prices will go up as a new gross receipts tax goes into effect. It’s tiny, amounting to just over one half of one percent and only affects businesses that do more than a million dollars a year in Oregon, but it’s a foot in the door for a sales tax. On the plus side, legislators have taken into consideration that many prices will rise and have lowered the personal income tax rates by one quarter of one percent. If you’re a bicycle rider, you can now roll through stop signs legally if there’s no oncoming traffic. And one change will be of particular interest to people in Mosier. Railroads that operate high hazard train routes must have state-approved oil spill contingency plans,
Those are just a few of the changes starting tomorrow in Oregon
In Washington State, the smoking and vaping age goes up from 18 to 21. Anyone who sells tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vape products to underage buyers will be penalized. Washington’s minimum wage goes up from $12 to $13.50 per hour and Seattle’s minimum wage will increase to $16.39 per hour for companies with more than 500 employees and $15.75 per hour for smaller companies. New Washington safety regulations require that children under 2 years old must be secured in rear-facing car seats. Kids under 4 years old must be secured in a front-facing car seat with a harness. And youth who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall and younger than 16 must be secured in a booster seat. Expect a lot of pushback from shorter middle and high school students on this one. and The one exception to the booster seat rule is if the car only has lap belts. And Washington State legislators did not forget to raise taxes as well. Real estate excise taxes go up to 1.1 percent for homes that sell for $500,000 or less, rising to 3 percent for sales at $3 million or more. Those are just a few of the dozen laws taking effect tomorrow in Washington state. Happy New Year.