NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – With the start of the new year, several new laws are now in effect in Virginia.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage across the Commonwealth is now $12 per hour, up from $11. The change is a step increase built into 2021 legislation.

Grocery Tax

The grocery tax went down from 2.5% to 1%. The reduced tax rate applies to food for home consumption. It does not apply to alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, prepared hot foods packaged for immediate consumption, and seeds and plants used to grow food for home consumption.

Localities are still permitted to leverage a 1% grocery tax. Shoppers on New Year’s Day told 10 On Your Side they weren’t noticing the savings on their groceries.

“I didn’t even consider it,” said Bill Maquerie, shopping at Harris Teeter in Ghent. He said he likely won’t notice a difference in his spending habits, but large families might.

“I’m sure there are families that will. Lots of families. Just my guess that everybody needs a little extra help,” Maquerie said.

Many shoppers said that the rising cost of items in the grocery store is particularly stark. The Consumer Price Index rose 12% in 2022.

Ivan Chain also shops at Harris Teeter, though because he’s not shopping for a family, he doesn’t track his spending very closely. He said the tax cut won’t help him much, but it will be a different story for families on a budget.

“I could understand how it impacts someone who’s like a mother shopping for their children, their husband. That definitely would impact them. It Could add up, especially if you’re penny-pinching,” Chain said.

Essential hygiene products that qualify for the reduced tax rate include diapers, disposable undergarments, bed sheets, pads designed to protect bed sheets and mattresses, as well as incontinence products designed to be inserted into the body.

Several feminine hygiene categories qualify for the lower rate, including sanitary napkins, sanitary towels, tampons, menstrual sponges, menstrual cloths and pads, menstrual cups, pantyliners, and other products used to absorb or contain menstrual flow.

Consumer Data Protection Act

Former Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Consumer Data Protection Act into law in March 2021, making Virginia only the second state to take this action. It allows consumers to retrieve a copy of their online data, amend or delete this data and opt-out of allowing large businesses to sell the data. But the law did not take effect until January 1, 2023, and it doesn’t apply to all companies.

Unemployment Compensation

10 On Your Side has covered ongoing issues with the Virginia Employment Commission, particularly the backlog of unemployment claims. This legislation, effective January 1, 2023, requires the agency to review suspicious claims, recover improper overpayment of benefits, among other “program integrity” changes.