As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on a year marked by significant legislative milestones in the United States. This year, diverse and impactful laws were passed across the nation, affecting everything from wages to sports betting.
Perhaps we can say that this year, each of these changes has played a part in shaping the societal and economic fabric of the country. Also, these new laws are not just small tweaks; they represent a strong commitment to making life better and fairer for everyone.
In this look back, we will delve into the most significant legal changes that have marked 2023 as a memorable year in American legislative history. So, let’s embark on this journey of discovery and understanding.
Nebraska’s Leap in Minimum Wage
Nebraska’s decision to raise its minimum wage in 2023 is a significant step in a nationwide movement that gained momentum in 2012. This movement began when fast food workers initiated the “Fight for $15” campaign.
Their goal was to increase wages and promote unionization within the fast-food industry. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a major labor union in the U.S., supported this cause with substantial financial backing.
It’s been a long journey since the last federal minimum wage increase in 2009, when it was set at $7.25. By August 2023, 30 states have moved beyond this federal baseline, setting higher minimum wages, as reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Nevertheless, this increase is just the beginning, as the state plans to incrementally raise it each year until it reaches $15 per hour by January 1, 2026. This significant hike, the largest reported by The Associated Press, represents a substantial shift towards improving the standard of living for low-wage workers.
Legal Sports Betting in North Carolina
North Carolina has made it legal for people who are 21 and older to bet on sports like football and basketball. Bets can be made in person at special places close to big sports stadiums, as well as on websites and apps.
However, this journey to legalize online sports betting has not been easy. This started with bets at casinos run by Native American tribes in 2019. And in 2023, a new law was passed to make NC sports betting official. According to the new law, The following eight venues are expected to host retail sportsbooks:
- Spectrum Center
- WakeMed Soccer Park
- Quail Hollow Country Club
- North Wilkesboro Speedway
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- PNC Arena
- Bank of America Stadium
- Sedgefield Country Club
Additionally, the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission is set to oversee this sector, managing the issuance of all necessary licenses. This commission will impose an 18% tax on all sportsbook operators and require a $1 million fee for a license valid for five years within the state.
Easier Voting in New York
In New York, a shift towards more accessible voting is underway, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity and civil rights. All this was made possible thanks to the story of Blaise Bryant and his fiancée, Erin, who, on November 5, 2022, seized the chance to vote early in Rensselaer County.
Their action mirrors a broader movement to make voting more accessible, especially for New Yorkers with disabilities who represent diverse backgrounds and reside in varied locales, from rural to urban settings.
Despite legal protections, individuals with disabilities often encounter obstacles in participating fully in society, with voting systems being no exception. Federal regulations mandate states to ensure accessible polling sites, and organizations are tasked with overseeing this compliance.
One key aspect is preparing poll workers to effectively use Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs), ensuring privacy and independence for all voters. To further this goal, local Boards of Elections (BOEs) are encouraged to diversify their pool of poll workers, including recruiting those with disabilities, and to make these roles more accessible.
This initiative marks a significant step towards dismantling barriers and fostering a more inclusive voting environment in New York.
Final Thoughts: Looking Ahead to Legislative Changes in 2024
As we reflect on the significant legislative changes that shaped the United States in 2023, it’s clear that the landscape of American policy is continuously evolving to address the diverse needs of its citizens.
Looking ahead to 2024, further significant changes are on the horizon. Such as, starting in the 2024-25 Award Year, schools will shift from using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI) to determine eligibility for federal student aid. Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is preparing for a pilot program in the 2024 tax season to enhance customer support and address technological needs.
These upcoming changes are a testament to the ongoing efforts to refine and improve the mechanisms of governance and public service in the United States.