With the start of a new year comes new hope, new ambitions, and yes, new laws. Measures that will continue to help New Yorkers battling heroin and opioid addiction, assist our veterans and farmers, improve safety on our highways, and expand our organ donation registry are just a few of the changes.
Continuing the Fight to Overcome Heroin and Opioid Addiction: A number of measures took effect earlier this year to address the state’s ongoing heroin and opioid abuse crisis. However, additional provisions will become effective with health insurance policies and contracts issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended on or after January 1. These changes will improve access to inpatient treatment services, employ consistent criteria to determine the medical necessity of treatments, expand access to Naloxone and other opioid reversal medications.
Encouraging New Yorkers to Become Organ Donors: Starting January 1, New Yorkers will be offered an additional opportunity to document their decision to enroll as an organ and tissue donor. All applicants for health insurance offered through the state health benefit exchange will be provided space during the application process to register for the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye, and tissue donations.
Hire-A-Vet Tax Credit: The 2016-17 budget extended the hire-a-vet tax credit from January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2019. The period of eligible employment for qualified veterans is also extended from January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2018. The credit is provided to any business that hires a veteran returning home from military service, on a full-time basis for at least one year. The credit is equal to 10 percent of wages paid, with a maximum of $5,000 per veteran - increasing to 15 percent of wages if the veteran is also disabled, with a maximum of $15,000 per disabled veteran.
Ensuring Veterans Receive the Benefits to Which They’re Entitled: Legislation was enacted to require local Social Services districts and not-for-profit agencies that receive state funding to inquire as to whether a person who is applying for social services, or any member of his or her family, has served in the United States Military. If so, they would be provided with contract information for the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs in order to ensure that the individual is receiving all of the benefits to which he or she is entitled.
Farm Workforce Retention Tax Credit: The 2016-17 budget included provisions to allow eligible farm employers to claim a refundable tax credit for each farm employee that is employed for 500 or more hours each year for tax years beginning on January 1, 2017. The credit is equal to $250 per employee in 2017.
New Insurance Rate Reductions for Homeowners: A new law enacted as part of the 2016-17 budget allows homeowners to receive a rate reduction for fire insurance, homeowners’ insurance, or property/casual premiums for residential property if they complete a homeowner course in natural disaster preparedness, home safety, and loss prevention.
Consumer Notification About Auto Repairs Paid by Insurance Companies: A new law that takes effect January 17, 2017, requires insurance companies to include a disclosure in repair estimates that informs insured motorists of the right to have their vehicle repaired in a shop of their choice.
“Move-Over Law” Expansion: Starting January 17, 2017, the “Move-Over Law” - which requires motorists to slow down and move over when passing authorized emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road - will also include any vehicle displaying a blue or green light, such as volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers involved in roadside emergency operations.
Window Tint Compliance: Starting January 1, the state will require vehicles’ window tint to be examined during a yearly New York State safety inspection. If the glass on a vehicle is tinted beyond 30 percent of light transmittance, then that vehicle would not pass the inspection. The new law is a more proactive approach intended to protect law enforcement and other drivers, as darkly tinted windows hinder their ability to see inside the vehicle.