Ho, hum. The holiday festivities are more than over, the decorations are down (not put away, mind you, but down), the diets have started, and everyone is just thrilled to be back at work and school. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something interesting going on in the world to capture our attention? But, no, three weeks into 2020, and it’s basically the same old, same old. 

The President is still impeached (although it certainly took Nancy P. quite some time to send the articles over to the Senate). The U.S. of A. sent a well-documented terrorist to what, in all probability, is a well-deserved fiery pit. (Shockingly, all still-standing Democratic candidates for President thought the move was ill-advised.) Iran still hates “The Great Satan.” And nobody is talking to anybody else in Washington, unless they play on the same team, and even then it’s not always civil.

That’s not to say nothing has changed. There are a few things. For starters, New England is NOT going to be in the Super Bowl. Nor did Alabama play in the College Championship game. Right away that puts the sporting universe a little off-kilter. Social Security recipients got a 1.6% cost of living bump, followed immediately by Medicare raising its deductible. Go figure.

In other economic news, more than 20 states and several municipalities now mandate a higher minimum wage. That’s especially good news for those aforementioned Social Security recipients who just might need the extra income. I don’t think any state has yet officially made it to the $15-per-hour mark sought by protesting groups these last few years, but the amount is climbing. Along with that news is the edict from the Department of Labor mandating more people will be eligible for overtime pay this year.

More money in people’s pockets may well affect tax revenue too. There’s a new W-4 form that the IRS has concocted to reflect the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which I’m sure we all committed to memory). This updated government form is designed to “reduce complexity and increase transparency.” Right. Note it’s a government form. 

On a related note, the IRS regular Tax Form 1040 that most of us, if not all, have to file every April has also been streamlined. It now has only two lines on it: 1) How much did you make last year? and 2) Send it in. Those changes should definitely make figuring out our taxes much easier.

Speaking of taxes, here’s a surprise. More than a few states are now going to collect new fees for electric vehicle usage. You see, those owners of Teslas, Leafs, and Bolts aren’t paying any gasoline taxes. It makes sense, although I’m sure electric car owners aren’t jumping for joy. The cars are still using the roads, but not paying for the upkeep. Fair is fair.

Illinois expects to reap huge tax revenues from the sale of recreational marijuana. It became the 11th state to make such usage legal. Many people celebrated by saying, “That’s really cool, man,” while opening up another bag of potato chips.

While California has long been the harbinger of social change, New Hampshire stole some of its thunder in 2020 by allowing residents to put down an “X” instead of “M” or “F” as an identifying sex on their driver’s licenses. 

Not to be outdone, though, the Golden State now prohibits alligator boots or crocodile handbags from being sold. Also, smoking has been banned at state parks and state beaches. And in something of a shocker, passengers CANNOT consume cannabis while riding buses, taxis, pedicabs, limousines, or campers. That could seriously alter the daily lives of traveling rock bands. School districts can no longer deny meals to students with unpaid lunch balances. And if you’re really hungry, there’s a pilot program in place allowing you to collect roadkill animals for human consumption. (No word on whether the last two items are related in any way.)

In Georgia, some things stayed the same. it’s still illegal to keep a donkey in a bathtub. No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket on Sundays. All Acworth residents must own a rake. And in Athens, goldfish may not be given away to entice someone to enter a game of Bingo.

Finally, nationwide, no one under 21 can now legally buy cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco product in the U.S. The House and Senate passed it, and the President signed it.

Wait a minute. That means Congress and the White House agreed on something. Whoa. THAT’S definitely something new.

©MMXX. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer