A new year means new laws. And in 2016, if measures that take effect January 1 are anything to go by, life in conservative and liberal states will continue to diverge. http://bit.ly/1moZb3z
  1. California and Massachusetts: $10 minimum wages
    Low-wage workers in 12 states are getting a raise when the minimum wage goes up January 1, and California and Massachusetts will have the highest minimum wage in the country, at $10.
  2. Hawaii: You have to be 21 to buy cigarettes
    In most of the country, you can buy a pack of cigarettes at 18, even though you can't buy or drink alcohol until you're 21. That's about to change in Hawaii, the first state in the US to raise the smoking age to 21. The law also covers e-cigarettes. The law was passed in April and goes into effect today.
  3. California: Your gun can be taken away
    Beginning January 1 in California, police or relatives can petition a judge to take away guns and ammunition from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others. If the judge approves, the person would also be placed on a list that blocks them from buying guns in the state.
  4. Texas: You can openly carry your gun
    Forty-four states already allow gun owners to carry their guns in public, including states much more liberal than Texas. Texas will be the biggest state to allow open carry, and the law has posed vexing questions to businesses about whether they want to ban it, which they're still permitted to do. The more controversial gun rights law in Texas passed this year doesn't take effect until August. That law will allow concealed guns on college campuses.
  5. Oregon: Pharmacists can prescribe birth control
    Women seeking the birth control pill, patch, or ring in Oregon won't have to see their doctors first — they'll just have to fill out a questionnaire and have their blood pressure checked at a pharmacy. Oregon is the first state in the US to allow this; a similar law in California will take effect in March. Many countries allow birth control access without a prescription; the US and Europe are outliers.
  6. Alaska: Legalizing Netherlands-style pot cafés
    Alaska isn't the first state to legalize marijuana, but it will be the first state to allow pot cafés — retail outlets where people can both buy and consume the drug. Smoking in public will remain banned. Alaska has the most marijuana users per capita in the US. And while the state is conservative, it also has a libertarian streak that can help explain its more relaxed attitude toward drug use.
  7. Illinois: Banning "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ kids
    Just three states prevent "conversion therapy," a tool for parents who want to forcibly change their kids' sexual orientation or gender identity, although top medical and psychological associations argue it should be banned. Illinois becomes the fourth on January 1.