NEW YORK (WABC) -- Major changes took effect in New York for the New Year.
This year, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed 730 bills into law, with 87 more currently awaiting her review. With issues ranging from worker rights to health and school resources, new legislation will impact residents statewide.
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Here are some of the new state laws that took effect in 2024:
Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum wage in New York City, Westchester and Long Island rose to $16 per hour, while the rest of New York State is at $15 per hour.
In the meantime, Gov. Hochul announced The New York State Department of Labor will launch a public awareness campaign to inform New Yorkers of the change.
Minimum wage earners who do not see the increase reflected in their paychecks in the new year are encouraged to file a wage complaint on the Department of Labor's website or by calling them at (833) 910-4378.
Freelance workers now have better rights and protections with the enactment of the "Freelance Isn't Free" Act. The new law applies to covered freelance workers being paid at least $800 for their work.
The law requires the use of written contracts, timely and full payment for a worker's services and protections from employer retaliation and discrimination. The Department of Labor will provide model contracts to both freelance workers and employers that abides by the new law.
New legislation is also aimed at protecting tenants from water and security issues.
Assembly Bill A7273 requires NYCHA to notify residents in writing within 24 hours about whether their water is safe to use for cooking or drinking. It also ensures that those contracted to examine water quality samples comply with all federal, state and local laws.
Similarly, another assembly bill prohibits the installation of keyless security devices used to gain access to building common areas without the written consent from the building and relevant parties. A new amendment to the law will require building owners to give residents a 30-days notice of any approved installation and assure them there will be no changes to their rent or access to the building.
New York is expanding the eligibility for victims and survivors of crime to apply for victim compensation funds in the new year.
The new law removes the requirement that victims and survivors must report and provide documentation of the crime to law enforcement in order to be eligible. In instances when proof of a crime is requested, victims will be able to provide alternative forms of evidence to show that the crime has occurred.
Under "Matthew's Law," drug testing resources will be made more readily accessible to the general public.
The legislation is helping to decrease the chances of accidental drug overdoses by allowing local pharmacies and health care providers to give out fentanyl and other drug adulterant testing supplies. The life-saving bill is named after Matthew Horan, who died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020.
"Families across our State have felt the immense tragedy of the opioid and overdose epidemic - it is a pain no one should ever have to endure," said Gov. Hochul about the bill.
"For too long, pharmacies and other local health care providers have struggled to provide the resources proven to prevent overdose deaths. With our historic investments in testing expansion, along with this legislation, we are working to ensure that every New Yorker has access to life-saving testing kits."
New York will continue to improve the safety of college students from bias-related and hate crimes in the new year.
Senate Bill S2060A requires that campus crime statistics be posted and made accessible on the college's website. It will also require schools to adopt new plans for investigating and reporting hate crimes, and inform new students about crime prevention measures on campus.
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Middle and high school students in the new year will have access to free menstrual products in non-public schools under Senate Bill S5913A.
The law follows a similar bill promoting more gender-inclusive language by using the phrase "menstrual products and pads," instead of "feminine hygiene products" and "sanitary napkins."
The two pieces of legislation are part of Gov. Hochul's campaign to increase the health equity of New Yorkers.
New York is officially naming two new school holidays on its academic calendar.
Starting in the new year, public schools statewide will be closed on Lunar New Year, as part of Gov. Hochul's campaign to continue supporting and protecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
In New York City, Diwali will also be designated as a school holiday. Public schools will be closed on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Indian calendar in each year.
A new law will allow individuals as young as 15 years old to be lifeguards at swimming pools, beaches and children's camps, under proper supervision.
Those serving as lifeguards at children's overnight, summer day, and traveling summer day camps must be supervised by the camp aquatics director.