New state and federal policies that take effect Thursday include two that require Maine insurance companies to pay for more cancer and autism treatments, and another that imposes the Affordable Care Act’s “employer mandate” on larger businesses that do not offer adequate health coverage.

In other states, new laws taking effect with the beginning of the year range from a rise in the hourly minimum wage in 20 states, to one that will be enforced in February in New York, where it will become illegal to take “selfies” with a lion, tiger or other big cat. The measure was passed after self-portraits with the animals started becoming more popular online, particularly with young men on dating sites.

In California, college students will have to engage in a “yes means yes” standard before they have sex, meaning that silence or a lack of resistance can no longer be deemed consent.

And in Massachusetts, a new law allows direct wine shipments from wineries outside the state to Massachusetts residents.

In Maine, however, most newly passed state laws take effect immediately upon receiving the governor’s approval or 90 days after the Maine Legislature adjourns, so only a handful of laws are slated to kick in on Jan. 1. Those that take effect Thursday run the gamut from putting lobbying restrictions on recent members of the governor’s staff to allowing more youths visiting Maine to fish for free in the state.

Arguably the highest-profile policy changes come not from Maine lawmakers but from Congress and are at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, the health law commonly referred to as Obamacare. Beginning Jan. 1, all companies with 100 or more full-time employees must offer an “affordable” health plan to at least 70 percent of their workers or face fines of up to $2,000 per employee under the so-called “employer mandate.”

Also, individuals who did not purchase health insurance for themselves for 2014 – and who do not qualify for a long list of exemptions – will be required to pay the “individual mandate” penalty for the first time when they file their 2014 income taxes. The penalty for failing to purchase insurance in 2014 is the greater of 1 percent of the person’s annual household income or $95.

The employer mandate is not expected to affect many Maine companies, however, according to Mitchell Stein, a health policy consultant who worked for an organization that supported implementation of the federal law in Maine.

“We have fewer large employers than in other states and the employers we do have are largely offering benefits, so we don’t expect to see a large impact in Maine in 2015,” Stein said.

That could change in January 2016, when businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to offer insurance to nearly all of their workforce or face a fine. Congressional Republicans, who will control both chambers of Congress during the session that begins Jan. 6, are expected to target aspects of the Affordable Care Act, potentially including the employer mandate on smaller businesses and the law’s definition of full-time work as 30 hours a week versus the conventional 40-hour definition.

The Maine Legislature passed several bills last year that will require some insurance companies to beef up their coverage.

One law requires insurance companies to cover cancer treatment drugs that are taken orally if the insurers already cover equivalent chemotherapy treatments administered intravenously. Oral treatments are growing in popularity because they are more convenient than outpatient intravenous chemotherapy and because some newer drugs better target the molecules responsible for cancerous cell growth. But many insurance companies lump oral anti-cancer drugs in with other prescription drugs in their pharmacy plans, meaning cancer patients sometimes face much higher out-of-pocket costs for the expensive drugs than they would in co-payments for outpatient chemotherapy treatments.

Nineteen states plus Washington, D.C., had enacted laws requiring insurers to cover cancer drugs that are taken orally, according to a 2012 study by the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

Another new law will require health insurance companies to cover assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for children up to 10 years old. Maine’s previous law only mandated coverage for autistic children ages 5 and under.

Rep. Richard Farnsworth, a Portland Democrat who is on the board of the directors of the Autism Society of Maine, said autistic children often require speech therapy and other special services.

“It certainly is a great comfort for parents if they know that the insurance they are paying for is helping to cover the costs of those services, because it doesn’t take too many visits to a speech therapist or to other services to drain your budget,” said Farnsworth, the former executive director at Woodfords Family Services in Westbrook.

Other changes also taking effect Thursday include:

Prohibiting individuals from lobbying in Augusta if, during the previous 12 months, their salary was “subject to adjustment by the governor” or they held major “policy-influencing” positions within the governor’s office.

Allowing nonresident youths under age 16 to fish in Maine without a license. Previously, nonresidents had to be 11 or younger to qualify for free fishing.

Expanding the Opportunity Maine program that allows college graduates who work in Maine to receive tax credits for student loans.

Requiring health insurers to cover the lab fee (up to $150) to test an individual for the human leukocyte antigen to determine whether they would make a suitable bone marrow donor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.