New Laws For The New Year

Human Rights

Legislation (S. 5902/A. 8679) addresses Human Trafficking. It creates new felony crime designations that specifically target the methods used by traffickers to exploit their victims; establishes mechanisms to facilitate the delivery of social services to trafficking victims who are currently ineligible to receive such services; and forms a task force to coordinate implementation of the new laws and to ensure that the state’s efforts are effective in fighting trafficking and protecting victims.

Legislation (S. 5670-B/A. 4932-B) clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in areas of public accommodation. Specifically, the new statute makes it a discriminatory practice under New York law for places of public accommodation to refuse to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures necessary to afford access to facilities, privileges, or advantages to individuals with disabilities. The law will bring New York State law in alignment with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The new law also will allow persons with disabilities the ability to file certain complaints related to discriminatory practices through the State Division of Human Rights (DHR) rather than pursuing costly litigation in federal court. Individuals can bring their complaints to one of the numerous DHR centers around the State.

Health Care

Legislation (S. 3982-A/A. 8097-A)  requires that hospitals report a suspected or confirmed Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) associated with another hospital to the originating hospital and to extend the State Immunization Information System to prevent a gap in reporting.

In order to ensure complete and accurate reporting of HAIs, health care facilities and providers must be able to notify each other of patients that are seen in more than one facility. This legislation provides facilities with the authority to share information in order to identify all sources of infection and to ensure appropriate care of individual patients. The legislation also promotes increased active surveillance, by requiring the collection of monthly infection data to provide immediate feedback to the reporting hospital.

The State Immunization Information System is a demonstration program that has been continued for a number of years. The system collects information provided by health care providers on a voluntary basis in order to track and monitor the immunization of children. Continuation of the voluntary immunization registry through today enabled the comprehensive collection of vaccination data until the mandated registry becomes effective January 1st.

Workers’ Compensation

Legislation (A. 6163/S. 3322) reformed the state’s archaic workers’ compensation law earlier in the year. Provisions of the law which will become effective on January 1, 2008 include:

  • Amending the Workers’ Compensation Law to provide for the apportionment of the assessment against self-insurers and defines the term “pure premium calculation.”
  • Amending the Workers’ Compensation Law to modify the method by which administrative expenses are assessed upon group self-insurers.

Consumer Protection

Legislation (S. 5050-C/A. 8406-B) – The Airline Bill of Rights –  creates a first in the nation consumer Bill of Rights for airline passengers, which requires carriers to provide passengers with food, water, fresh air, power, and working restrooms on any flight on which passengers have boarded the plane and the flight has been delayed for more than three hours. This law also creates an Office of the Airline Consumer Advocate within the Consumer Protection Board. The Consumer Advocate will oversee compliance with the airline passenger Bill of Rights.

Legislation (S. 4415/A. 7380) requires applicants for real estate appraiser licensing and certification to meet new education and experience standards established by the Federal Appraiser Qualifications Board, and also requires currently licensed and certified real estate appraisers to meet more stringent federal continuing education requirements. These measures are intended to reassure homeowners that their real estate appraisers have demonstrated a level of professionalism that meets federal standards.

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