New sex ed and child vaccine mandates, higher minimum wages and relaxed pot penalties are among the new laws sweeping into effect next week when the new year arrives.
Even pets will be affected, at least in Illinois, where a new law will make it a Class A misdemeanor to leave dogs and cats exposed to harsh weather conditions, leading to a hefty fine and up to a year in jail if convicted.
The most immediate and noticeable changes on Jan. 1 will be in wages. Some 12 states alone are expected to increase their minimum wages -- including California and Massachusetts, which are going up to $10 an hour. The District of Columbia was the first to exceed the $10 minimum, but several states have incremental plans to raise their wages even further by 2018.