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New laws in effect in Washington state for 2019


After the clock struck midnight, Washington state saw a handful of new laws go into effect, ranging from gun control to contraceptive coverage.

RELATED: Washington AG targets ban on ghost guns in 2019

Which laws should Washington residents look out for? Let’s run through the list.


Washington state voters approved I-1639 with nearly 60 percent in favor, and now, parts of the country’s strictest gun control measures will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

The entire measure will be enacted piecemeal throughout 2019, beginning with raising of the age to purchase a semiautomatic weapon from 18 to 21 on Jan. 1. I-1639’s enhanced background check provisions and its safe storage incentives will go live in July 2019.

Contraceptive coverage

Any health plan in Washington issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1 will now provide coverage for the following:

  • Contraceptive drugs, devices, or “other products”
  • Voluntary sterilization procedures
  • Consultations, exams, procedures, and medical services for prescribing or administering contraceptive services

This particular legislation was conceived with a mind toward “protecting gender equity and women’s reproductive health.” You can read the full text of it here.

Service animals

Service and emotional support animals have made headlines across the country in recent years, with various travelers attempting to bring a turkey, a kangaroo, a pig, a monkey, and even a miniature horse aboard flights.

A new 2019 law going into effect Jan. 1 looks to tighten restrictions on the definition of a service animal, limiting the scope to dogs and miniature horses, who must be trained to perform a specific task related to an owner’s disability.

It also makes it so emotional support animals are not considered service animals, and enacts a $500 fine for misrepresenting a pet as a service animal.

Hospital disclosures

Starting January 2019, hospitals both in Washington state and the rest of the country are required by law to publish the cost of medical procedures online. They are also be required to update their prices on a yearly basis.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage changes in different ways for Seattle and the rest of Washington state in 2019.

For Washington, the hourly minimum wage increases from $11.50 to $12. In Seattle, employers with over 500 employees have to provide a $16 hourly minimum wage.

Seattle companies under that 500 employee baseline are required to pay $12 an hour if they pay $3 an hour toward medical benefits, and/or employees earn $3 an hour in tips. For companies under 500 employees that don’t offer either of those, a $15 hourly minimum wage is required.

Paid medical leave

Beginning in 2019, employers and employees pay into a statewide paid family leave program.

Both employees and employers pay a premium of 0.4 percent of a workers’ paychecks each pay period; 63 percent is paid by employees and 37 percent is paid by employers.

The law, signed back in 2017, allows some employees to take as many as 12 weeks paid leave every year for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or for a serious medical condition involving a worker of a family member. An extra two weeks can also be added for pregnancy complications, allowing as many as 16 total weeks in certain scenarios where different kinds of paid leave are combined.

According to the Associated Press, weekly benefits are calculated based on a percentage of the employee’s wages and the state’s weekly average wage, now $1,190, though the weekly amount paid out is capped at $1,000 a week.

RELATED: Why other cities don’t want to be Seattle in 2019

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