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These are the Washington laws changing in the new year

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 7, 2021

There’s a cap on insulin costs in Washington starting in 2021.  (Los Angeles Times)
There’s a cap on insulin costs in Washington starting in 2021. (Los Angeles Times)

Jan. 1 doesn’t just mean you need a new calendar. It also means some new laws take effect for at least some people in the state.

Most new laws in Washington either start right away because there’s an emergency the Legislature is trying to address, or sometime in the summer when 90 days elapse after the Legislature adjourns in the spring.

But Jan. 1 sometimes is a convenient target date when the state is rolling out a multistep plan or making a change in rules for businesses. Many changes this year involve health insurance, businesses and motorists. Here’s a rundown of those changes:

  • Medical insurance plans can’t charge members more than $100 per month for insulin under a new cap on costs. They also have new restrictions on the cost of prescription drugs, so they can’t charge more than the cost of the drug and can’t require a pharmacy to provide a more expensive name brand when a cheaper generic is available.
  • Student medical insurance plans will have to offer reproductive health care coverage for transgender students, based on their gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on their birth certificate.
  • All hotels, motels, security agencies and companies that have remote workers must have policies to protect their employees from sexual harassment and discrimination. Those provisions applied to only large companies with more than 50 employees before this year.
  • The state will make it easier for more families with children, particularly those in rural areas, to receive a full year of the Working Connections Child Care subsidies.
  • Military personnel and veterans will not be required to take a “knowledge test,” and thus have an easier time obtaining a civilian commercial driver’s license if they have had comparable training in the military.
  • Suspects in domestic violence cases will have a harder time harassing their victims by filing “abusive litigation” such as defamation suits or tort claims.
  • Motorists traveling in or through Seattle caught by automated traffic safety cameras can receive tickets of up to $75 for infractions. Through a pilot program for cities with population above 500,000, they were getting only warnings up until Thursday.

A ban on single-use plastic bags was also scheduled to take effect, but because of concerns about COVID-19 contamination of reusable bags, Gov. Jay Inslee has put that law on hold until at least Feb. 1.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the size of companies previously covered by new sexual harassment and discrimination requirements.

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