As we advised a few weeks ago, there are an array of new laws taking effect over these summer months and we want to be sure that you are aware of the impending changes. So, those of you with business interests in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, North Dakota, Washington and Texas may want to keep reading. Effective July 23, Arkansas law will permit two or more employers to join together for purposes of offering employee benefit plans to their employees or their families. As of July 27, Arizona is changing the definition of “small employer” to only include businesses of 1-19 employees. Effective that date, those with exactly 20 employees will no longer be “small employers” for purposes of continuing health care coverage. Effective July 28, employers in the state of Washington will be required as a reasonable accommodation, to provide a private location (other than a bathroom) for a woman to express breast milk; and, all employers will be required to conspicuously post a Washington Employment Security Department poster (which must be customized by the employer) to include the names of community resources regarding domestic violence. If that weren’t enough, Washington employers with 15 or more employees are precluded as of July 28, from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history. That date also triggers the nation’s first state program offering employees long-term care insurance benefits, funded through a wage-based payroll tax, initially set at 0.58% of an employee’s wages. Washington employers must collect the premiums through payroll deductions and submit the funds to the state. Local Paid Sick Leave takes effect on August 1 in both Dallas and San Antonio, Texas. Notwithstanding state legislative efforts to preempt such local mandates, both cities are prepared to roll out the new requirements as scheduled on August 1. Changes to more laws take effect in Colorado on August 2 when the Colorado Chance to Compete Act (CCCA) will prohibit employers from advertising a position indicating that individuals with a criminal history may not apply; at the same time, applicants whose criminal records have been sealed or expunged will be able to claim no criminal convictions. Also on August 2, employers will be required to file any annual statement of wage withholdings electronically, and all tips will belong solely to the employee unless the employer notifies each patron – in writing – that gratuities are shared. And our only entry on the positive side of the ledger comes from the state of North Dakota which effective August 1, prohibits any locality from enacting or enforcing any law requiring a higher wage than that required by state law. The current state minimum tracks the federal wage of $7.25 per hour.