Laws in Massachusetts change frequently. There is a multitude of new rules and statutes in the Bay State as of 2019. It can be challenging to stay up to date on what is legal and illegal when the laws change so often.
The new Massachusetts laws in effect this year address several issues, ranging from opioids to the minimum wage. Here are four of the new rules you should know about.
1. Anti-addiction medications for prison inmates
A new law launches an anti-addiction program for prisoners on September 1st of this year. This is a three-year program that impacts five correctional facilities in Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Norfolk and Middlesex. The program will provide buprenorphine and methadone to inmates with prescriptions.
2. Tobacco purchases
The legal age to purchase tobacco products is now 21 everywhere in the state. This law impacts cigarettes, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars. Many towns and cities already had a smoking age of 21, but now it is a statewide rule to reduce confusion and promote healthy choices. Interestingly, the statute does not make it a criminal offense for underage individuals to smoke. It only enacts punishments for retailers who sell tobacco products to minors.
3. Prison conditions
There are new rules that impact the treatment and placement of prison inmates. Under the new law that overhauls the criminal justice system, there are new restrictions on when inmates should be in solitary confinement. The law requires an inmate to go through a review to figure out if he or she is at risk of developing severe mental health issues if put in restrictive conditions for prolonged periods of time.
4. Minimum wage
Approximately 666,200 employees in Massachusetts are now seeing a pay raise. The minimum wage is increased from $11 to $12 per hour. This is part of a gradual increase to $15 an hour in 2023. The law also impacts tipped employees. Tipped workers now must receive $4.35 per hour instead of $3.75.