Notable New Laws Coming Into Effect in 2022

Several notable new laws will come into effect in 2022, touching on areas including animal welfare, abortion, wages and internet access.

One law at the federal level which is set to affect a large number of people is an end to surprise medical billing—a measure that is likely to prove popular across the nation.

At the state level, many will see changes in the minimum wage, with California leading the charge. Separately, a fight is brewing in New Hampshire over new restrictions on abortion as the country waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a separate law introduced in Mississippi in 2018.

As we enter 2022, here are some of the most notable new laws taking effect.

Surprise Medical Billing

The "No Surprises Act" takes effect on New Year's Day.

A federal law, its aim is to provide protections from surprise medical bills, and requires insurance companies to cover out-of-network expenses that can arise, particularly in cases of emergency.

The act will likely be welcomed by many Americans concerned about surprise medical bills they may incur, but it has its limits.

The new law will not cover the cost of ambulances despite the fact ambulatory care is often a significant cost and has been one focus of the discussion about surprise billing.

Abortion in New Hampshire

Abortion will now be banned in New Hampshire after the 24th week of pregnancy except in cases where the woman's life or physical health is in danger. The law is one of several new restrictions on abortion that have been introduced in recent years.

Democrats in the state legislature are already moving to repeal the ban and some of them want to make the right to make reproductive health decisions a constitutional right.

The Minimum Wage

The state of California will require all businesses with more than 25 employees to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour, becoming the first state to do so. Businesses with 25 employees or fewer will now have to pay $14 an hour from January 1.

More than 20 other states are also increasing the minimum wage to amounts less than $15, including Arizona which will raise its minimum wage $12.15 an hour to $12.80 an hour.

Animal Welfare

A number of new laws will take effect in 2022 relating to animal welfare, with several states introducing measures for the new year.

In Texas, it will be illegal to chain up a dog from January, with chains and heavy restraints banned. Collars must be made from "material specifically designed to be placed around the neck of a dog" while the animals must also have shelter from "inclement weather."

California will have the country's strictest standards for living space for breeding pigs from January 1, while Maryland will ban the sale of cosmetics if they contain ingredients that were tested on animals. Other states already have similar laws.

Nevada will make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to homeowners or charge them more based on the breed of their dogs, and Vermont will ban the trade of parts and products of exotic animals, such as elephants and giraffes.

New Hampshire has also passed new laws relating to animal welfare, making stealing a dog a felony on the second offense and making it a misdemeanor to maliciously remove a tracking collar or microchip from someone else's dog. The state's animal cruelty rules have also been strengthened.

Internet Access, Cocktails and Marijuana

Other state legislation will see changes for residents.

In Washington state, those selling houses will now have to disclose whether the property has access to the internet. The move comes amid President Joe Biden's push for universal broadband by 2030.

Residents of Oregon will be permitted to continue buying cocktails-to-go from bars and restaurants after the pandemic has ended, while 15 other states now have similar measures.

And in Montana, recreational marijuana will become legal after the state's voters approved the measure in November, 2020, but only those businesses that were providing medical marijuana before November 3, 2020, will be able to grow and sell marijuana products for recreational use.

Five other states are also expanding access to Marijuana in 2022.

Labor Activists Rally on the National Mall
Labor activists hold a rally in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour on the National Mall on May 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. California has introduced a $15 minimum wage for businesses with more than 25 employees. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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