2015, News
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New Years, New Laws

2015 Brings New Changes For The New Year

By Vada Cambio, News Editor
Matt Arellano, Photographer

The New Year means that many new laws have gone into effect starting on Jan. 1, 2015. A major one for Hawaii is the minimum wage law that raises the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour for the 2015 calendar year. This is a 50 cent an hour increase from the previous year at $7.25 an hour. On a 40 hour work week that is 20 dollars extra each week for a total of 80 dollars more per month. For many minimum wage workers, 80 extra dollars a month will be a huge help in their budgets.
The State of Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Wage Standards Division states that minimum wage will continue to rise for the next three years in increments of about 75 cents each year ending with $10.10 an hour in 2018 for the State of Hawaii.
Following in Hawaii’s footsteps, California law has finally banned the use of single use plastic bags result – ing in only reusable bags being used. Plastic, single use bags won’t be banned in California until July 1, 2015 but residents are already in an uproar over having to pay for the paper bags that some stores will be offering for 10 cents a bag. Many stores will not provide bags at all. Some California residents want the ban, which won’t go into effect for another seven months, to be overridden so they can continue to use plastic bags instead of the reusable ones.
Lisa Leorna, a California resident who frequently travels to Hawaii, said, “I think it’s a wonderful idea to ban plastic bags in California like they did in Hawaii. Living in the Inland Empire, where it is always so windy, we are constantly seeing plastic bags blowing around getting caught on power lines and stuck on tree limbs. They become litter so quickly. I’m not sure why there is a big stink about banning them, a little bit of inconvenience is worth the positive results”.
In Hawaii, this law has been implemented on the Big Island since Jan. 2013 with no major problems. The law allowed businesses and consumers three years to prepare for the ban so that everyone eventually transitioned to reusable bags in a rather smooth fashion. The only downside, “I just need to remember to bring my bags with me. Many times I get to the store only to realize I forgot my bags,” said Leorna.
A new law that really relates to college students is California’s “Yes Means Yes” or affirmative consent law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. The goal of this law is to help improve the way universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an “affirmative consent” and stating that con – sent can’t be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol. The law states that, “Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” This law is all about student safety and making sure that yes means yes so, that in the end, there is no confusion or ambiguity the morning after.
Will Hawaii be the one to follow in California’s foot – steps this time regarding the “Yes Means Yes” law? Chances are if it is successful in California it will soon move to all the states, Hawaii included.
Throughout the following year, we will learn what laws work and what doesn’t, what is a positive and what becomes a negative. Only time will tell.


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