New laws aimed at guns, abortion, tobacco

Dozens of new laws will kick off Jan. 1, affecting everything from the way you drive, smoke, gamble or get married.

Starting today, the legal age for tobacco purchases is 21. Men will find it easier to get vasectomies under a new law that allows nurse practitioners to do the snipping. And family members or law enforcement officers can ask a judge to bar someone from possessing firearms if they are a danger to themselves or others.

Here are some highlights of the 750 new laws that will take effect in 2018:

Tobacco: Stores can no longer sell tobacco products, pipes or vape pens to 18-year-olds. Instead, you now have to be 21, the same legal age that you can buy marijuana. According to state health officials, the average age when someone starts smoking tobacco products is 19. Store owners can get a $500 fine for a first offense. Store managers can face $250 fines and store employees $50 fines.

Voting: Residents who turn 16 will be registered to vote when they obtain their driver’s licenses, though they can't vote until they are 18. 

Laughing gas: Nitrous oxide containers can only be purchased by someone who is at least 18. The gas is used by businesses but can be inhaled illegally, sometimes causing people to giggle. 

Gun control: Family members or law enforcement can seek a judge's permission to remove the firearms of someone who is a danger to themselves or others.

Expanded birth control: Free reproductive medical care, including abortions, will be available to women, even if they are in the country illegally. Men can get a vasectomy from qualified nurse practitioners, who may now perform the procedure. 

Marriage made easy: Marriages can now be performed by a wide range of secular individuals. 

Worker schedules: Workers should receive one week advance notice of changes to their schedules in places that have more than 500 employees, starting in July. By 2020, the notice must be two weeks.

Getting sick: If a company has more than 10 employees, it must offer at least 40 hours of paid sick leave a year. Smaller companies must have least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.

Working overtime: If bosses demand you work more than 55 hours a week, they must get written approval from the worker in advance. Hourly manufacturing employees cannot work more than 60 hours a week, period. Manufacturers must pay the higher of hourly and weekly overtime wages to their employees. However, seasonal workers who deal with “perishable” food may be exempted from the 60-hour limit.

A heftier minimum wage: Depending on where you live in Oregon, minimum wages should rise in July 2018. Jackson County workers will receive a 50-cent raise to $10.75 per hour. Workers in more rural counties — including Jefferson and Crook counties — will get a 50 cent increase to $10.50 per hour. Workers in the relatively expensive Portland metropolitan area will receive a 75-cent raise to $12 per hour. By July 2022, Jackson County workers will get a $13.50 minimum wage.

Bingo wins: Nonprofit bingo games can offer $5,000 per game, double the current limit.

Expanded bottle bill: Beverage containers made of plastic, aluminum or glass, which are between 4 ounces and 1.5 liters, will have a 10-cent deposit. This will open up more bottles that will have deposits, including sports drinks, coffees and teas.

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow him on

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