New laws take effect in Washington, Maryland and Virginia

Starting Tuesday, beauty salons in Montgomery County can apply for a beer and wine license so that customers can get buzzed while having their hair blown out — but liquor stores can no longer sell traditional grain alcohol because anything over 190 proof is now banned across Maryland.

In Virginia, voters must now provide valid identification to vote, and electronic cigarettes will be regulated in ways similar to tobacco products and cannot be sold or purchased by minors.

July 1 is the start date for a number of new laws in both states and in the District, with additional newly passed legislation taking effect Oct. 1.

Here are just a few of the new rules to follow:

• In the District, most employers must pay their workers at least $9.50 an hour, up from the previous minimum of $8.25. The change is part of a phased-in minimum wage increase approved by the D.C. Council last year.

The minimum wage will reach $11.50 an hour in July 2016 and will then grow on a yearly basis based on the area’s cost of living.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties approved similar minimum wage increases late last year, but the first bump, to $8.40, will not happen in those jurisdictions until October.

Low-wage workers in other Maryland counties will have to wait even longer to see their pay increase. The Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 goes into effect Tuesday, but the first wage increase, from $7.25 an hour to $8, will not happen until Jan. 1. The statewide wage will hit $10.10 on July 1, 2018, and stay there unless lawmakers again take action.

• In Montgomery, the implementation of the “Drybar bill” means that salons can obtain a beer and wine license and serve their clients alcoholic beverages while coiffing their hair or painting their nails.

St. Mary’s County tried to jump onto this bill — named for the upscale chain of salons that styles but does not cut hair — but lawmakers in Annapolis approved the law only for Montgomery.

• Maryland liquor stores and retailers can no longer sell grain alcohol that’s 190 proof, or 95 percent alcohol, such as Everclear.

University presidents and public health advocates fought for years to have this potent booze banned because it has long been a popular choice for college students who are looking to get smashed without spending much money — and who are not always well versed in their tolerance levels.

Retailers who keep selling this juice spiker risk a fine of up to $1,000.

• Maryland corrections officials are prohibited, in nearly all cases, from shackling inmates who are in labor or giving birth.

And it’s up to the doctor — not a prison guard — to decide when a new mother is physically and mentally healthy enough to return to life behind bars.

• Maryland’s public colleges, universities and community colleges are required to give all first-time, full-time students a personalized copy of the U.S. Education Department’s “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet,” which breaks down estimated costs, available grants, work-study options and loan options.

The form became available for the 2013-2014 school year, and more than 1,950 institutions have chosen to use it.

• In Virginia, the amount of time that a mentally ill person can be held under an emergency custody order is doubling, from a maximum of six hours to a maximum of 12 hours. The law was passed in response to a tragedy in November involving the family of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds. The Bath County Democrat was stabbed by his son, who then took his own life, after an agency failed to find a hospital bed for him within the time allotted by an emergency custody order.

In hopes of preventing a similar outcome, mentally ill individuals cannot be turned away from a state facility unless a private or alternative facility is identified.

• Also this year for the first time, Virginia voters must produce identification at the polls to cast ballots. The author of the law, Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), is pursuing a rule change that, if approved, would invalidate ID cards that have expired.

• Starting Tuesday, Virginia law also will allow hunting on Sunday with some restrictions, mandate fewer standardized tests, enact ethics reforms passed in response to Republican former governor Robert F. McDonnell’s indictment and end the tax on hybrid vehicles.

Mike DeBonis and John Wagner contributed to this report.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
Jenna Portnoy covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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