New laws go into effect in the D.C. area on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 related to plastic bags, leaf blowers, disposable utensils, car insurance and more. Here’s a rundown.
New Laws in Washington, D.C.
Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers: In an effort to reduce noise, the use and sale of gas-powered leaf blowers will be banned in the District starting Jan. 1, 2022. A new law says any individual or company caught using one of the leaf blowers can be subject to fines of up to $500.
Violations can be reported to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Video and audio evidence of violations can be submitted but will not be required.
Rebates for electric equipment for residential and commercial use are available. Go here for more info and answers to frequently asked questions.
Disposable Utensils and Food Service Waste: D.C. restaurants will be banned from automatically handing out disposable utensils, napkins and condiment packets with orders, starting on Jan. 1, 2022. Restaurants and other “food-serving entities” must give out these items upon request or have them in a self-serve area so customers can take them. The requirements apply to in-person, online and mobile orders. Go here for more info.
Vaccination Entry Requirement: Later in the month, starting Jan. 15, D.C. will require people age 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter restaurants, bars and nightclubs. As News4 previously reported, the requirement will apply to movie theaters, concert venues, gyms, yoga studios and shared work facilities. Go here to see the order by Mayor Muriel Bowser.
New Laws in Maryland
Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Maryland will increase. On Jan. 1, the rate will go up to $12.50 for people working for employers who have 15 or more employees. It will increase to $12.20 for those working for employers with 14 or fewer employees.
Organ Donation: Maryland residents who choose to be organ donors while registering for their drivers’ licenses on or after July 1, 2022 will have the option to decide if they would like their organs to go to research and education or to transplantation and therapy. Motor vehicle administration locations must provide drivers with information about each choice. Any organs donated before July 1 from previously registered donors can only be used for transplantation or therapy.
Genetic Counselors: A new law requires the Maryland Board of Physicians to license genetic counselors and to establish a Genetic Counseling Advisory Committee within the board. Genetic counselors give patients and families information about genetic testing and how genetic conditions could affect them.
New Laws in Virginia
Minimum Wage: Statewide, the hourly minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022.
Special ID for Undocumented Residents: Starting Jan. 3, undocumented residents of Virginia can apply for a special identification card at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Undocumented children are also eligible to receive an ID. The legislation was sponsored by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán.
In January 2021, undocumented drivers in Virginia became eligible to apply for a special driver’s permit called driver’s privilege card. According to estimates, over 300,000 people could benefit. Read more here.
Plastic Bag Tax: Locally, the city of Alexandria, Arlington County and Fairfax County adopted a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic shopping bags such as those found at grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores. The tax will affect shoppers and will take effect in all three jurisdictions on Jan. 1, 2022.
Revenue collected will help fund “environmental cleanup, providing education programs designed to reduce environmental waste, and mitigating pollution and litter.” The law does not ban plastic bags.
Local Elections Schedule: Statewide, municipal elections for city council and school board in Virginia will be moved from May to November, beginning with elections held after Jan. 1, 2022.
Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act: Is your home at risk of flooding? Homeowners in Virginia who know that their property is a “repetitive risk loss structure” must disclose that fact to the purchaser of their home by using a form provided the Real Estate Board.
The state defines “repetitive risk loss structure” as any home that has two or more claims of more than $1,000 that were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program since 1978.
Inhalers in Public Schools: Virginia schools will change the way they treat students with asthma.
In the new year, local school boards are required to create and adopt policies to allow certain school employees to administer stock albuterol inhalers to students “believed in good faith to be in need of such medication.” Under the law, those administering the medication will be exempt from any liability.
Students with asthma or anaphylaxis, or both, will also be allowed to possess and self-administer “inhaled asthma medications or auto-injectable epinephrine.”
Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance: There will be increases to liability insurance coverage amounts for policies effective between Jan. 1, 2022 and Jan. 1, 2025.
Coverage amounts will increase from $25,000 to $30,000 in “cases of bodily injury to or death of one person.” And from $50,000 to $60,000 in “cases of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons.” Details on the amounts can be found here.