A number of new laws passed by the Washington State Legislature last April have taken effect in Washington state as of January 1st.

The new laws will effect employee drug testing, the purchase of firearms, hospital staffing and the B & O tax on newspaper publishers.

Employee Drug Testing

Most employers can no longer pre-screen job applicants for cannabis use but are still permitted to test for other drugs before hiring.  Employers can test workers for marijuana use as part of drug and alcohol-free workplace policies or if an employee is involved in an accident or suspected of impairment while on the job.

The new law does not apply to employers that are required to drug test by federal regulations as well as law enforcement and firefighters

Purchasing Firearms

A new 10-day gun waiting period is in effect for anyone wanting to buy a firearm in Washington.  Purchasers will need to complete a background check and wait 10 business days before obtaining the firearm.  Purchasers will also have to take a firearms safety course within five years of the transaction.

Hospital Staffing Levels

Hospitals are now required to establish staffing plans that provide adequate nurse-patient ratios.  The plans must be submitted to the Washington Department of Health.  Staring in 2027, hospitals can be fined if failing to meet plan targets at least 80% of the time.

B & O Tax Exemptions for Certain Publishers

Publishers of newspapers and digital publications can qualify for a business and occupation (B & O) tax exemption.  Newspaper publishers had previously been subject to a 0.35% B & O tax rate on their business activities.  The law was crafted to help local newspapers and journalism.

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Broader Penalties for Street racing

People caught street racing face stricter penalties including vehicle impound  for a first offense.  The new law alco includes charges against others involved in street racing.

Ranking 50 United States by Deer Population

The United States of America is home to one of the world's most impressive, and varied, deer herds. Using data gathered from each state by A-Z-Animals.com, let's count down to the state with the largest population of deer.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow