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Minimum wage increase
among new NY laws in '19
The following is the 16th in a series of Odessa File columns by Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, regarding news of a legal nature that readers might find timely in this ever-changing world.
By Jim Reed
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira
Happy New Year, Odessa File readers! As we get back to our lives after the holidays, it’s a good time to review some of the new New York state laws in place this year because they could have an impact on your lives.
The new Legislature begins Jan. 9 and the Democrats have a lot on their plate because they control the state Assembly and Senate, and are led by a Democrat, newly re-elected Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A big topic of debate in 2019 will be the possible legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.
In the meantime, though, some of the new laws established in 2017 and 2018 take effect in 2019. Our state lawmakers in Albany were busy debating over and approving minimum wage increases, more paid family leave, and much more.
Here is a summary of what you need to know:
--The minimum wage upstate increased to $11.10 an hour, up from $10.40 an hour, on Dec. 31. It was the third straight year that the wage was increased and is part of a phased-in increase that will continue through 2021.
In New York City, small employers with no more than 10 employees will pay $13.50, up from $12. Large employers, with 11 or more employees, saw the increase jump from $13 to $15 an hour. In Long Island and Westchester County, the wage increased from $11 to $12.
As usual when there is a rate hike, some business owners said they will pass the increased labor costs on to their customers, or their business may close. Worker advocates say the increases are good for all minimum-wage employees.
Eligible employees denied the wage increase can call a state hotline to report noncompliant employers: 1-888-4-NYSDOL.
--Volunteer firefighters diagnosed with certain forms of cancer after Jan. 1 will be eligible for state disability coverage. The firefighters must have served at least five years to get access to the tax-free disability and death benefits.
To learn more about which forms of cancer are included, contact your state lawmakers or read the state’s frequently-asked questions document about the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disabilities Benefits Act, which was approved in October 2017.
--The state has increased paid family leave to 10 weeks. Eligible employees can take that time off for a new child, a sick family member or to help a family member when another member of the family is deployed on active military service. The number of weeks will continue to increase for the next two years, to 12 weeks in 2021.
--Good news for many New York homeowners: Property tax rebate checks will increase an average of $530 this year for STAR-eligible homeowners earning $275,000 or less a year in property tax-compliant school districts.
--Starting on Jan. 6, drugstores and mail-order pharmacies will be required to give consumers the ability to return unused prescription drugs through free drop boxes, prepaid envelopes or other secure avenues. The Drug Take Back Act is trying to discourage the flushing of unused drugs into sewers.
--Health insurers are now required to provide prostate cancer screenings to men free of co-pays or deductibles. Health insurers are also required to let consumers know about the feature.
--A new law that takes effect on Jan. 30 will allow state correction officials to screen inmates for homemade weapons using body scanners. The weapons, often ceramic craft blades found in cutting tools but not detected by metal detectors, have been used to injure correction officers, state officials said.
--Diaper-changing tables are now required in new or renovated public men’s and women’s restrooms.
Thanks for reading,
Photo in text: Attorney Jim Reed.
To see Jim Reed's first column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's second column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's third column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's fourth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's fifth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's sixth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's seventh column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's eighth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's ninth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's tenth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 11th column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 12th column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 13th column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 14th column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 15th column, click here.
To read Adam Gee's first column, click here.