Many new laws take effect Jan. 1 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Many new laws take effect Jan. 1

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

With a new year, comes new laws.  Nationwide, about 400 new laws go into effect January 1.

Here's a breakdown of some new federal laws beginning:

If you're a senior citizen getting Social Security, you may see a bump in the amount of your checks.  Benefits for more than 56 million Americans will go up 1.7 percent in 2013.  That's an average increase of $250 dollars for the year.  However, it's among the smallest cost of living increases since automatic adjustments began in 1975.

Also on the financial front, tax increases will kick in for investment income over $200,000, or $250,000 for a couple.  Tax hikes will also take effect on the sale of some medical devices, which will help pay for the 2010 healthcare law.

If you're a trucker or bus driver--put down your cell phone.  Starting January 1, a new federal law enforces stiff penalties of up to $2700 in fines for those caught using a hand held device while at the wheel.

Here are some new Iowa laws taking effect:

If you like to enjoy the great outdoors, some changes to Iowa law might be helpful.  Starting January 1, you can apply for a new combination hunting and fishing license.  Including the habitat fee, it costs just $45.  A fishing license has also been upgraded to allow for use of three lines instead of just two.  Minor changes have also been made to Iowa fur harvesting license laws.

If you volunteer time as a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel, in 2013 you'll be eligible for a new income tax credit of $50.

New testing requirements take effect for teaching candidates in January.  As part of the state's education reform plan, Iowa teachers will now have to score in the top 75 percent of all standardized test takers in the nation.

In Waterloo, a new ordinance takes effect for some businesses.  As part of the city's ongoing efforts to crack down on the proliferation of liquor stores, such businesses are now banned from selling alcohol at drive-up windows.  Any store caught violating the new regulation could be forced to remove its drive-through altogether.

A couple of less noteworthy laws taking effect here in Iowa January 1st include changes to qualifications for public notaries and lien eligibility changes for contractors.

Iowa's General Assembly re-convenes for the 2013 session January 14th.  There are already 19 pre-filed bills up for review.

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