Bits & Pieces Heading to the New Year

Incandescent Light bulb Phase-out
Starting things off, NBCNews took note that most Americans aren't even aware that their traditional light sources will soon become a rare commodity with the Jan. 1 deadline to end production of 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs according to lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania’s recently released  sixth annual "Sylvania Socket Survey," which found that only 4 in 10 consumers were aware that 60- and 40-watt light bulbs are being phased out in 2014 as production ends.
“The government began phasing out 100- and 75-watt light bulbs in 2012 and 2013 respectively, after then-President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)into law, mandating that low-efficiency light bulbs be gradually removed from production,” NBC relates. “The elimination of 60- and 40-watt bulbs will have a much greater impact on U.S. consumers because they are the two most popular bulbs on the market.”

Ohio’exotic animals law
While it’s still unknown is exactly how many restricted animals are out there, Ohio’s law banning the sale, ownership and breeding of exotic animals takes full effect January 1st., having been passed in June of last year, unsuccessfully challenged in Southern Ohio’s District Court last year, and now awaiting the outcome of its appeal last month in the Sixth Circuit.
The Columbus Dispatch last week reported that “Although 150 owners, including zoos, registered 888 animals, the “X” factor is the number of owners who have not signed up, either because they are uninformed or are defying the law, and quoted  Dept. of Agriculture Director David Daniels as saying ‘There are people out there who have chosen not to register with us and are skirting the law… When unregistered animals on the restricted list are located in Ohio after Jan. 1, they will be seized by the state.”
Permit application material and other information is available on the Dept. of Agriculture’s website. The site also warns people To report an escaped dangerous wild animal or restricted snake, call 9-1-1 first, and then 1-855-393-6446.

Repeat Drunken-drivers Registry
The Ohio Department of Public Safety has expanded its online registry of repeat drunken-drivers having five or more DUI convictions in the past two decades., after reports that the registry contained information from courts in only about half of Ohio's counties.
The Safety Department is no longer relying on local courts to supply the information and instead is compiling the list from electronic records. That list now numbers 5,300 names compared with about 400 before the update.
That list is searchable online by zip code, county, or offender’s name.

Minimum-coverage Insurance Premiums
Speaking of insurance, the Dispatch also reported “Ohio drivers who carry the minimum amount of insurance on their vehicles will  have to boost their coverage the next time they renew their policies thanks to the passage of House Bill 278 (2012) that went into effect on December 22nd.. Minimum levels of coverage that drivers have to have doubled from $25,000 to $50,000 in multi-person accidents and 25,000 for property damages.

Minimum Wage Increases
USAToday reports that “on Jan. 1, state minimum wages will be higher than the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour in 21 states, up from 18 two years ago, and National Employment Law Project. policy analyst Jack Temple expects another nine states to drift above the federal minimum by the end of 2014, marking the first time minimum pay in most states will be above the federal level.
“Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island legislatures voted to raise the minimum hourly wage by as much as $1, to $8 to $8.70, by the first of the year, and in California, a $1 increase to $9 is scheduled July 1. Smaller automatic increases tied to inflation will take effect in nine other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.