The beginning of 2023 means these new laws will be taking effect in Massachusetts



With the beginning of a new year generally means more laws going into effect and 2023 is no different for Massachusetts. Here is some of the new legislation coming into play this year.

SURTAX TAKES EFFECT: The voter-approved 4 percent surtax on the state’s highest earners takes effect. The surtax adds a 4 percent surtax on top of the state’s 5 percent flat tax for the portion of annual household income that exceeds $1 million. Revenue raised by the surtax intended for public education and transportation investments, although the Legislature maintains discretion of its annual allocation. The surtax will be collected when taxpayers remit taxes owed for tax year 2023, starting on Jan. 1. This means the first quarterly estimated payments affected by the new rate will be due on April 15, covering January through March of 2023, for most taxpayers. (Sunday)

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES: The statewide minimum wage rises another 75 cents per hour to reach $15, the final of five annual increases called for in the “Grand Bargain” law of 2018. The minimum wage for tipped workers will also increase from $6.15 per hour to $6.75 per hour effective Jan. 1. Advocates who helped push for the sequence of wage increases signaled they will now set their sights on additional raises, arguing that potent inflation has continued to strain workers. “Despite the progress we’ve made, the minimum wage is still insufficient to meet the needs of working families, especially amid rising inflation,” American Federation of Teachers President Beth Kontos said on Dec. 27. “And some workers are still not covered by the minimum wage, including municipal workers who have devoted their lives to public service and deserve more than poverty wages.” (Sunday)

IMMIGRANT DRIVER’S LICENSES: Starting July 1, 2023, anyone in Massachusetts regardless of immigration status can apply for a standard driver’s license. Undocumented immigrants will still need to prove their identity, date of birth and residency in Massachusetts using a range of documents including either a valid, unexpired foreign passport or a valid, unexpired consular identification document.

SPORTS BETTING: The Gaming Commission had previously announced a “late January” start for retail betting. The Jan. 30/31 launch would allow bettors to plunk down wagers ahead of the Super Bowl (but not for the NFL’s conference championship games on Jan. 29), but it is largely dependent upon the commission’s equipment and software testing partner Gaming Labs International completing the work it needs to do to ensure that the technology the casinos will use meets the commission’s standards.

MINIMUM WAGE/PREMIUM PAY: Beginning January 1st, 2023, the standard minimum wage will increase to $15.00, and the tipped minimum wage will bump up to $6.75. The minimum wage applies to all employees except agricultural workers ($8.00 per hour is the minimum wage for most agricultural workers), members of a religious order, workers being trained in certain educational, nonprofit, or religious organizations, and outside salespeople. Also, beginning on the first of the year, Premium Sunday and holiday pay are eliminated.

CANNABIS DRIVER EDUCATION: The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles in partnership with members of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and AAA Northeast announced that as of January 2023, Massachusetts will be the first recreational-use cannabis state in the nation to adopt, “Shifting Gears: the Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving,” a AAA curriculum that educates teens on the risks of cannabis-impaired driving.

CANNOT DECLINE AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTERATION: The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is announcing that soon the RMV is no longer allowed to offer the option for customers to opt out of automatic voter registration. The opportunity for driver’s license and ID applicants to decline automatic voter registration is no longer possible effective January 1, 2023, in accordance with “The VOTES Act,” a new election reform law which was passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature on June 22, 2022.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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