Measures That Enhance Women’s Rights, Cut Taxes for Veterans and Businesses Are Among the New Laws That Take Effect in January 2016
Measures that enhance the rights of women and protect those who are most vulnerable to abuse and discrimination are among the highlights of state laws that will take effect in January 2016. Other laws soon to be effective include: business tax cuts; property tax relief for eligible veterans; expedited access to critical information in missing child cases; additional protections for working women who breastfeed; and the expansion of health care access through telehealth services.
Women’s Equality Agenda
On Jan. 19, 2016, seven of the eight bills comprising the Senate’s Women’s Equality Agenda will take effect, including:
- Preventing Human Trafficking and Protecting Trafficked Victims: This new law toughens penalties against those human trafficking young women, men, and children. It will reduce the stigma defendants may face when they are victims of the massive $32 billion sex trafficking industry (Chapter 368, S7 Senator Andrew Lanza);
- Ensuring Equal Pay: The law will ensure that women receive the wages they are entitled to by prohibiting employers from paying employees disparate amounts due to gender. In New York, on average, a woman working full time is paid $42,213 per year, while a man working full time is paid $50,388 per year. This creates a wage gap of $8,175 between full-time working men and women in the state (Chapter 362, S1 Senator Diane Savino);
- Stopping Discrimination Based on Family Status: The new law will help working mothers by preventing discrimination in the hiring and promotion of people with families. Employers will be prohibited from denying work or promotions based on family status, such as parents and women who are pregnant. Prior laws only prohibited discrimination based on family status in credit and housing decisions but not employment with children (Chapter 365, S4 Senator Elizabeth Little);
- Ending Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace: This law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions. A pregnancy-related condition would be treated as a temporary disability. Additionally, the measure would codify in law a regulation that an employee must provide medical or other information to verify the existence of the condition. (Chapter 369, S8 Senator Kemp Hannon);
- Preventing Housing Discrimination Against Domestic Violence Victims: The new law prohibits discrimination against domestic violence victims in housing, and subjects violators of this prohibition to a misdemeanor. It also allows the option of a civil action for a violation of the prohibition (Chapter 366, S5 Senator Joseph Robach);
- Prohibiting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: This law protects all employees from sexual harassment by applying existing protections to businesses of all sizes. Under prior law, people working at businesses with fewer than four employees could not file a harassment complaint with the state because small employers were exempt from the law that prohibits harassment. More than 60 percent of the state’s private employers have fewer than four employees (Chapter 363, S2 Senator David Valesky);
- Removing Barriers to Remedying Discrimination: This law removes barriers to remedying discrimination by allowing successful parties to recover attorney’s fees in employment or credit discrimination cases based on sex (Chapter 364, S3 Senator Elizabeth Little).
The remaining law that completed the Women’s Equality Agenda package will take effect April 1, 2016. The measure creates a pilot program that would enable domestic violence victims to seek temporary orders of protection through electronic means rather than having to appear in person. The Office of Court Administration will also review and update its policies and services for all crime victims in the courts in order to ensure that their needs are being met and that all victims are truly protected (Chapter 367,S6 Senator Catharine Young).
Business Tax Cuts:
In 2014, the Senate succeeded in overhauling and simplifying the State Corporate Franchise Tax, which incorporated banks into the new combined code. Starting on Jan. 1, 2016, the Business Income Tax Rate will be lowered from 7.1 to 6.5 percent, saving businesses a total $125 million.
Also starting Jan. 1, 2016, New York State’s small business exemption increases to 5 percent for sole proprietors and farmers with at least one employee and a federal adjusted gross income that does not exceed $250,000. Exemption increases have been phased in since legislation was passed in 2013 and will ultimately save small businesses a total of $61 million.
Increases in the Minimum Wage and Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit
On Dec. 31, 2015, the state’s minimum wage will increase from $8.75 an hour to $9 an hour. The increase is coupled with an increase in the Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit from $1.31 to $1.35 to help offset some of the increased wage costs for businesses.
Help for Veterans:
A new law that takes effect Jan. 2, 2016, helps reduce the local property tax burden for veterans by authorizing an increase in limits to the real property tax exemption. Municipalities have the option of offering these exemptions to help veterans afford owning a home. The new limits take into account rising property values so that the savings offered with the tax exemption can continue to help eligible veterans (Chapter 381, S4391 Senator Kenneth LaValle).
Access to Missing Child Case Information
On Jan. 19, 2016, a new law will expedite access to critical information in missing child cases. The law was created in response to a tragic child abuse case in Albany County. It specifies that Child Protective Services (CPS) records can be released to expedite an investigation when law enforcement is investigating a missing child and there is reason to believe that a parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child is the subject of a report of child abuse or maltreatment. If CPS denies the request, law enforcement agencies can request an administrative review by the state Office of Children and Family Services, which would then have the ability to overturn a decision by the county CPS (Chapter 439, S3520 Senator George Amedore).
Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights
A new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, that will update the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights to add a provision that allows women to take reasonable, unpaid breaks at work in order to pump breast milk for up to three years following childbirth. Including this provision in the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights, which is publicly posted in maternal healthcare facilities, nurseries, maternity floors, and post-delivery rooms, would ensure that women are aware of this right and would prevent employers from discriminating against them based on their decision to express breast milk at work (Chapter 446, S5183 Senator Kemp Hannon).
Expanding Access to Telehealth Services
Three new laws that take effect Jan. 1, 2016, will greatly expand telehealth services across the state. Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services using digital information and communication technologies.
- Access to health care is expanded by providing for the delivery of health care services via telehealth under Medicaid coverage and private insurance parity. Under Medicaid provisions, services would be delivered via telehealth by a telehealth provider when the patient is located at an approved originating site. Private insurers would be directed to provide coverage for services delivered via telehealth, as long as these services and providers of the services are otherwise covered under the patient’s contract or policy (Chapter 6, S2405 Senator Catharine Young)
- Two other laws include dentists and physical and occupational therapists within the covered telehealth services under Medicaid. These practitioners would then be able to provide services from a distant location to benefit the patient where and when they need it most. (Chapter 167 and 454, S4182 S5733 Senator Catharine Young).
October 22, 2015 - Senator Hugh Farley posted:
The Senate had passed these measures unanimously the past two years, and the Governor signed them into law yesterday.
Known as the “Women’s Equality Agenda,” the legislation includes:
• A new law to ensure equal pay for women;
• A new law cracking down on sexual harassment in the workplace;
• A new law to protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination;
• A new law providing domestic violence victims with a safer, more accessible avenue for obtaining an order of protection;
• A new law, known as the “Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act” that toughens penalties against those who engage in the outrageous crime of human trafficking;
• A new law to prohibit workplace discrimination based on family status, which will protect women from bias in employment, pay and advancement;
• A new law to prohibit discrimination in housing based upon domestic violence status; and
• A new law to allow reimbursement of reasonable attorney’s fees in employment and credit discrimination cases when sex is a basis of discrimination.
September 18, 2015
Rep. Elise Stefanik
Today I voted in support of H.R. 3134 -- the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. This legislation provides for a one-year moratorium on all federal funding while the organization’s activities are investigated. I am concerned and disgusted by the recent disclosures regarding Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue sales and want all necessary steps to be taken to fully investigate the situation. The funding limitation in this legislation will not apply in the case of an abortion resulting from rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Furthermore, all funds that are no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities that provide women’s health care services. I also supported an amendment to this legislation that would redirect funding from Planned Parenthood facilities to Federally Qualified Health Centers (Community Health Centers) to preserve this important funding for women’s health. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 241-187.
In addition, today I voted in support of H.R. 3504 -- the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation strengthens the original Born Alive law by making healthcare providers subject to up to five years in jail and/or fines if they don’t provide the same standard of care to an infant born alive during an abortion that a wanted child would receive. In addition, if a doctor actively takes the life of the baby who survives an abortion, they can be criminally prosecuted. The bill explicitly bars any prosecution of the infant’s mother, and it gives her the option of suing the healthcare provider who does not treat or actively kills the surviving baby. This bipartisan legislation passed the House by a vote of 248-177.
May 14, 2015
New Cards for Medicare
But Medicare itself has continued the practice, imprinting Social Security numbers on more than 50 million benefit cards despite years of warnings from government watchdogs that it placed millions of people at risk for financial losses from identity theft.
President Obama signed a bill last week that will end the use of Social Security numbers on Medicare cards.
"The Social Security number is the key to identity theft, and thieves are having a field day with seniors’ Medicare cards," said Representative Sam Johnson, Republican of Texas, who pushed for the change with Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat.
May 12, 2015
The New York State Senate today passed four measures that would keep our roads safe by holding drivers accountable for reckless and irresponsible actions. The legislation would increase or create new penalties for repeat DWI offenders, those who drive at high speeds, and individuals who cause a death while driving without a valid license.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport) said, “These bills would deter drivers from engaging in dangerous situations that put lives at risk. Whether you’re driving drunk, without a valid license, or at high speeds, you’re taking an irresponsible action that has the potential to cause harm to yourself and others. Today’s measures are important steps toward ensuring that the penalties match the gravity of these crimes.”
A bill (S4220) sponsored by Senator Flanagan would require mandatory jail sentences for repeat DWI offenders. Current law does not require drivers previously convicted of a DWI to spend any time in jail. Individuals convicted of two or more DWI offenses within a five or 10 year period face jail time or a fine. However, since jail time is not mandatory, judges have the discretion to sentence these offenders to only a fine or a fine and community service.
Under the proposed measure, drunk drivers would be required to serve a minimum of 30 days in jail for their second DWI conviction in 10 years, and a minimum of 90 days in jail if they are convicted of three or more DWI offenses within 10 years. In addition, drivers convicted of their second aggravated DWI in 10 years would face a mandatory 180-day sentence, and drivers convicted of three or more aggravated DWIs would be sentenced to jail for a minimum of one year. These sentences would be in addition to any other penalties imposed by the courts.
The Senate also passed legislation to strengthen penalties against unlicensed drivers involved in car accidents resulting in someone’s death. The bill (S1600), sponsored by Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope), would give prosecutors broader discretion to seek a prison term by making it a class E felony to negligently cause the death of another person while operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.
Senator Bonacic said, “When a driver with a suspended license kills another person, he or she must be held accountable for their actions. Those who drive without valid licenses should not be on the road, and when they kill an innocent person they cannot walk away with only a slap on the wrist.”
In addition, the Senate passed legislation (S3732) sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island) to reduce high-speed vehicle fatalities in New York. Under “Michelle and Jordan’s Law,” a second conviction for engaging in an unlawful speed contest or race within 12 months would result in a class E felony, punishable by up to one year in prison. The bill is named after five-year-old Jordan McLean and 17-year-old Michelle Arout, both of whom were killed in a car accident while racing at high speed.
Senator Lanza said, “Cars which are driven by reckless or inexperienced drivers all too often become deadly weapons. Sadly, statistics prove that too many young drivers lose their lives on our roads every year. This bill will protect and save the lives of our young drivers, their friends, and the innocent bystanders who are often harmed or even killed by unlawful high-speed car racing.”
The Senate also approved a measure (S2976) sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda) to close a legal loophole that lets intoxicated supervising drivers escape punishment. “Abbagail’s Law” increases the penalties against individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while also supervising drivers with junior licenses or learner’s permits. Abbagail Buzard was tragically killed in a car accident when a teenager with a learner’s permit was operating the vehicle under the supervision of Abbagail’s intoxicated father.
Senator Ortt said, “After hearing the tragic story about Abbagail, it’s hard to imagine why this common-sense legislation has been held up in the Assembly for years. How many more individuals are we going to let off the hook for being under the influence while supervising an inexperienced driver because of a technicality? Too many lives have been cut short, because of the reckless decisions and actions of intoxicated drivers. An impaired supervisor who lets someone operate a vehicle with a learner’s permit is no different. Abbagail’s Law would close a dangerous loophole and hold a fully licensed individual accountable.”
The bills have been sent to the Assembly
New Electronics Law Starts Jan. 1st, 2015
On January 1st, New York’s electronics recycling law will take effect, making it illegal to throw any electronics into the garbage. Under the new law, TV’s, computers, VCR’s, computer games, gaming consoles, etc., must be taken to be recycled. Violators can be charged $100. The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, Staples, and Best Buy will accept consumer electronics and send them to Electronics Recyclers International, which shreds electronics and reclaims materials. If you’re getting rid of a computer, it’s suggested you remove the hard drive and smash it before turning it in, to avoid anyone getting your personal information.
2011 New Laws provided by Marje Bridston:
With the new year comes new legislation. When 2011 began, numerous provisions in federal laws governing health care and credit cards took effect, as did the following in New York State:
Driving past an emergency vehicle without moving over in New York
New York State’s “Move Over Act” came into force on New Year’s Day, making it an offense to fail to change lanes — provided it’s possible to do so safely — when driving past a parked law enforcement or emergency vehicle with its sirens sounding and lights flashing. New York was the 48th state to enact such a law; only Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., still don’t penalize those who neglect to move over.
Charitable Contributions Deduction The budget included a new law that limits the personal income tax deduction for charitable giving. Effective for tax years beginning after 2009 and ending before 2013, the deduction will be limited to 25% of the federal deduction for taxpayers who have New York State or New York City adjusted gross income of over $10 million.
Sales Tax Clothing Exemption Suspended
The state decided to temporarily suspend the state sales tax exemption for clothing and footwear costing under $110. Luckily the state decided to wait until after back-to-school shopping season. The exemption is suspended from October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011. After that it will be reinstated in two stages. From April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012, the exemption will apply for clothing and footwear costing under $55. On April 1, 2010, the full exemption will be reinstated to cover clothing and footwear costing under $110. Local governments have the option of following these rules or continuing with their own clothing exemptions as usual.
NYS DOG LICENSING LAW CHANGES Effective January 1, 2011 On June 22, 2010, Governor Paterson signed a measure into law as part of the 2010-2011 State Budget that moves the remainder of the dog licensing function required by Article 7 of the Agriculture and Markets Law to the level of local government. As a result, the existing roles of both county government and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) in the licensing of dogs will be eliminated on January 1, 2011. At the request of local stakeholders led by the NYS Town Clerks’ Association and the Association of Towns of the State of New York, the information below was designed to assist local government, shelters and dog control personnel in preparing for these changes. Part T of Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2010 provides for the elimination of NYSDAM’s dog licensing functions, including the agency’s centralized Dog Licensing System (DLS). Procurement of new municipal dog tags – as well as the tracking and issuance of license renewals – will be the responsibility of each local government currently authorized to issue licenses. In order to offset costs associated with this requirement, Part T eliminates the current revenue sharing structure (between localities, counties and NYSDAM) and directs 100% of the revenue associated with dog licensing to the town/city where it is raised. In addition, the new statute builds a great deal of local flexibility into Article 7, which will allow municipalities to enact local laws or ordinances that best suit the unique character of their administrative structure and constituencies.
The Child Protection Act of 2010
The Child Protection Act of 2010 establishes the class A-I felony of aggravated murder of a child; under this charge the sentence is life imprisonment without parole. Aggravated murder includes:
- Intentional killing of a person under 14 while in the course of committing rape, criminal sexual acts, aggravated sexual abuse or incest against such child.
- Depraved indifference or intentional killing of a person under 14 while being legally responsible for the care of such child.
The law also strengthens other parts of the state’s penal law, establishing the offenses of aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated abuse of a child in the first, second and third degrees, and aggravated endangering the welfare of a child. Additionally, the law:
- Defines a new class D violent felony of aggravated abuse of a child in the second degree and a new class C violent felony of aggravated abuse of a child in the first degree.
- Provide that a prosecution for aggravated murder of a child or aggravated manslaughter of a child cannot be terminated upon the consent of the parties.
- Provides that a child witness called to testify before the grand jury may be accompanied by a social worker, psychologist, or other professional to provide emotional support when giving testimony regarding a charge of aggravated murder of a child, aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated abuse of a child in the first, second or third degree or aggravated endangering the welfare of a child.
- Provides that a person convicted of the new crimes of aggravated murder of a child, aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated abuse of a child in the first, second or third degree or aggravated endangering the welfare of a child must give a DNA sample for inclusion in the DNA database.
- Renames the crime reckless assault of a child by a child day care provider to aggravated abuse of a child in the third degree. This E felony, which formerly only applied to day care providers, now would apply to a parent, guardian or person in a position of trust who recklessly causes physical injury to a child under age 14.
Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt provided this statistic on her Facebook page on July 19, 2010:
Leandra’s Law which went into effect 12/18/09 makes it a felony for a person to drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when a child is in the car. So far to date there have been 248 arrests made in NYS for violating this new law that went into effect not even a year ago. What are people thinking?
NEW YORK PRESCRIPTION SAVER PROGRAM
The New York Prescription Saver Program to help those with limited incomes pay for prescription drugs was approved in March of 2009. To qualify, you must:
- Be between the ages of 50 and 64, or have been determined disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA);
- Have an annual household income of no more than $35,000, if single, and an annual joint household income of $50,000, if married;
- NOT be on Medicaid; and Be a New York state resident.
If you or someone you know may qualify for this program, you may apply for the pharmacy discount card by visiting their website or by calling toll-free at 1-800-788-6917.
During the 2008 legislative session NYSFRW supported several bills that related to protecting our children from predators.
One of these bills, S1653A sponsored by Senator Dale Volker (District 59) has now been approved and was signed into law by the Governor on July 21, 2008. This bill amends the Executive Law, Section 837, by adding a new subdivision 18. It required the Division of Criminal Justice Services to produce an instructional video educating parents on how sexual predators lure children.
A familiar discussion with children is that they should never talk to strangers. Good advice, of course. However, sexual predators are lurking to trap children without them knowing and in many circumstances they are not strangers, but rather people they know and trust. We are shirking our responsibility as parents and caregivers if we simply tell children to be aware of predators, but we ourselves are not knowledgeable of just how predators lure their victims. Sexual predators are cunning and highly skilled at what they do. As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility as well to learn how to keep children safe from such predators. Unfortunately, we may not have the information or education on how to accomplish this.
This legislation seeks to assist parents and caregivers by mandating the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop a training video that will instruct parents on how sexual predators trap children into becoming their victim. This video will be distributed to all public libraries and police precincts for availability.
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
Linda M. Wagner
Katie’s Law is in response to the murder and rape of Katie Sepich, a 22 year old graduate student at New Mexico State University. She was raped, strangled and her body set on fire then abandoned at a dump site. DNA from her murderer was found under her fingernails, but there was no match in the system. After the perpetrator was arrested for having raped several other young women they found that he had a police record, but no DNA was on record. He was linked to Katie Sepich by the DNA samples from her fingernails.
The basic idea behind Katie’s Law is: "A person eighteen years of age or over who is arrested for the commission of a felony under the laws of this state or any other jurisdiction shall provide a DNA sample to jail or detention facility personnel upon booking."(New Mexico) This bill was passed by the New Mexico state legislature in only thirty days and was signed into law in March of 2006 and came into effect on January 1, 2007.
Since implementing a law to collect DNA upon arrest in the state of Virginia, the state has identified suspects in an additional 370 cold cases.
2003 63 arrestees matched to crimes
2004 68 arrestees matched to crimes
2005107 arrestees matched to crimes
2006 69 arrestees matched to crimes (Information taken from www.katieslaw.org )
In the State of Texas there is another law called Katie’s Law which deals with an entirely different situation. House Bill B84 and its companion Senate Bill 180 propose an Elderly Driver’s Test. This is in reference to the tragic death of another young woman – Katie Bolka.
Why should our state require DNA upon arrest?
• SOLVE COLD CASES
More than 41,000 investigations aided in the US throughout the national DNA database
• SAVE LIVES
Arrestee DNA testing can prevent crimes by providing early identification of serial offenders
• ABSOLVE THE INNOCENT
Guarantees equal access to DNA testing for all felony arrests and minimizes wrongful incarcerations
• MINIMIZE RACIAL BIAS
Forensic DNA databasing is blind to race and ensures accurate identification of suspects