With much in flux at the federal level, especially following a monthlong government shutdown that began Dec. 22, 2018 and lasted 35 days, many state and local governments have begun proposing and drafting legislation on a handful of key initiatives that affect their communities, including sexual harassment, marijuana laws, paid family leave, individual mandate on healthcare, state-sponsored retirement plans, and privacy regulations.
In 2018, more than 125 pieces of legislation on sexual harassment prevention and training were proposed by 32 states and several major cities such as New York City. Some of these laws have expanded protection to non-employees such as independent contractors, others have restricted confidentiality agreements.
In 2019, 18 states already have proposed paid family leave bills, and some Paid Family Leave laws already in effect have included the availability of additional weeks for qualified employees and an increase in the maximum benefit per week.
And state-sponsored retirement plans are at various stages in 10 states. The programs are voluntary for employees but employers have been given mandated deadlines to implement such plans. The goal is to offset the looming retirement crisis in the United States in which a 2015 study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that 62 percent of American households age 55-64 have less than a year’s worth of income saved for retirement.
As the public becomes increasingly interested in how well the companies they deal with protect their sensitive data, many states are enacting or broadening privacy regulations. Some states are requiring that consumers have the right to know what data companies are collecting on them and the ability to opt-out if that data is being sold or distributed without their consent. The definition of ‘personal information’ is also expanding in many places to include items such as biometric data, geolocation, and health-related factors. Many business groups, concerned with the difficulties of complying with an array of different state laws, are calling for a single federal standard.
Here are six regulatory issues affecting businesses at the state and local level: