In the wee hours of the first of January, 16 new laws came into effect that can and will effect our community. Many of the new laws are just technical changes to previous laws, but some deal with employee verification, protecting children in day cares, and stealing kitchen grease from restaurants.

Employers and local governments must now use E-Verify to verify the work authorization of newly hired employees. This law is a part of a phasing process that currently affects large companies and will soon impact smaller companies in July.

Harsher penalties have been enacted for those who steal cooking oil. If you steal more than $1,000 worth of grease, expect to be charged with a felony. Less than $1,000 in grease will result in a misdemeanor.

Child-care facility regulations have increased this year, including more criminal offenses added to background checks: burglary, larceny, credit fraud, identity theft, bribery, riots, and cruelty to animals. Also, the state will now be able to prevent habitual alcohol users, illicit drug users, and mentally or emotionally unstable persons from running child-care facilities.

Caretakers of any child may now claim them as a dependent. The law used to require parents of foster children and court-appointed guardians to be “legally responsible” for caring for a child to claim them as a dependent. This change complies with the Affordable Care Act.

For a complete listing of the new laws that have come into effect, visit