DENVER -- A number of new laws are going into effect in Colorado on January 1. The laws deal with a host of issues ranging from marijuana plants to sexting.
Here are a few of the changes coming to Colorado:
A new law lessens the consequences teenagers could face if they are caught texting sexual images to juveniles. Under the new law, prosecutors would have the ability to file misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges.
Right now, teens are charged with sexual exploitation of a child, which is a class 3 felony. The new law would lower the punishment. It also would not require those found guilty to register as sex offenders.
Beyond that, the new rules pave the way for diversionary programs to help teens understand why they are being punished.
Currently, up to six plants are allowed in each house per person living there that is over the age of 18.
But come 2018, all residences will be limited to a maximum of 12 plants unless certain requirements are met. This law is also subject to county and city restrictions, meaning fewer plants may be permitted.
The plants must be grown in areas that are enclosed and locked away so that minors can’t get to them.
Retail Marijuana Sales
Colorado is also cracking down on retail stores that sell marijuana in an effort to prevent so-called looping.
Looping is where someone goes into a marijuana dispensary repeatedly during the same day to buy marijuana.
The modified rules limit sales to a single transaction per person per day. It also punishes the establishments that sell marijuana to people if employees know, or should reasonably know, that the person has already purchased their limit.
The language of the law also changed to prohibit not the sale but the transfer of retail marijuana to people who have already purchased the legal limit.
Starting in 2018, the Department of Revenue can choose to suspend a person's driver’s license if they leave the scene of an accident that seriously injures or kills someone.
There must be a preponderance of evidence, however, that the person was the driver of the car involved in the accident and that they left the scene.
Currently, a driver’s license can only be revoked after the driver has been convicted of the crime.
If the person’s license has been suspended, they will have an opportunity to make a written request for a review and hearing for a probationary license.
In an effort to empower patients, a new law will force health care providers to disclose charges for services they perform.
Health care providers must also provide a list of the 25 most used services, diagnosis-related group codes and the 25 most used out-patient CPT codes for billing.
However, the new law stipulates that these pricing lists are estimates and not the final price for patients.
Following a 2016 voter-approved ballot measure, minimum wage will rise once again across the state. The minimum wage for tipped employees will go up to $7.18 per hour.
Currently, minimum wage for hourly, non-tipped workers sits at $9.30. Starting in 2018, minimum wage will go up to $10.20 an hour. That number will continue to rise until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020.
Colorado is one of 18 states that is raising its minimum wage in 2018.