New Washington laws in the New Year

Washington State Capitol Building Photo credit: Pixabay

By Hannah Lee

As of January 1st, 2023, multiple new laws have taken effect in Washington state.

The Washington state minimum wage increased. The minimum wage was $14.49 per hour in 2022 but has now increased to $15.74. Seattle has its own minimum wage, which has increased to $18.69 per hour.

Starting January 1st, salary information is required on job postings. Hourly wages or annual salaries are required to be mentioned in job listings for businesses that employ 15 or more people, and negotiations about higher salaries are possible.

Another new wage law supports Uber drivers. Uber drivers are now required to be compensated $1.17 to $1.38 per mile and a minimum of $3 to $5.17 per trip

The Cap and Invest program now sets a limit on carbon emissions for the state, which means that carbon emissions for businesses will now be limited. Businesses will have to obtain allowances through auctions hosted by the Department of Ecology or through a secondary market that equal their greenhouse emissions. The amount of ‘allowance’ a business can get will be lowered every year. This limit will eventually be reduced to help reduce emissions with the goal of 0% emissions by 2050.

The Clean Fuel Standard, which requires fuel suppliers to gradually reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuel to 20% less than 2017 levels by 2034, has also come into effect. Cleaner fuel will generate credits which can be sold to producers of high-carbon fuels. High-carbon fuel producers will be required to purchase credits to meet the year’s intensity reduction requirement if they do not meet guidelines.

In the legal part of town, a new law will relieve a criminal offender of having to pay full or partial restitution accrued interest to an insurer or state agency except for what is owed to the Department of Labor & Industry under the crime victim compensation program. This would occur if the court finds that the offender does not have the current or future ability to pay restitution. Restitution means restoring something to the rightful owner, and if found guilty courts may order a defendant to restore to the claimant what they lost, usually through money.

There will now be a new program that will help homeless people get IDs. Identification will help people experiencing homelessness gain access to employment, housing, education, medical services, and other services.