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Counting Down to the New Year’s New Legislation

New York State rings in 2012 with a slew of new laws, ranging from tax cuts and road safety to hookah sales to minors.

New York’s new laws for 2012 include tax cuts and caps, health insurance coverage, road safety and more.

Here’s a sampling of some of the significant changes starting Jan. 1, 2012, according to state Sen. Owen H. Johnson of Long Island.

TAX CUTS AND PROPERTY TAX CAP

The middle class can look forward the lowest level of tax rate in over 50 years: a total of $690 million in personal income tax relief for about 4.4 million taxpayers.

A property tax cap for the growth of school district and local government property taxes based on whichever is lower: 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index.

HEALTH INSURANCE

In order to correct a discrepancy, orally administered chemotherapy treatment will by law be covered by New York health insurance plans. This allows patients to be covered no matter how their treatment is administered, allowing for the medication to be taken at home.

ROADWAY SAFETY

This January, drivers will have to move out of the way of not only emergency vehicles, but also all other hazard vehicles. This includes tow trucks and other maintenance and construction vehicles. In 2011, a state law mandated drivers move over - or reduce speed - as they approach emergency vehicles stopped at the side of the road.

A few other laws starting up Jan. 1:

  • The Department of Environmental Conservation will both gain and lose some power: The DEC will be able to more easily ban products containing mercury, but will face reductions in the number of commercial fishing licenses and permits they can issue in order to safeguard the "economic viability" of the commercial and consumer fishing industry.
  • Visiting the dentist will become a bit safer – all dental health facilities will be required to have automatic external defibrillators on their premises.
  • Minors will no longer be able to purchase hookahs, water pipes and shisha. “Shisha” is any product made mostly of tobacco smoked or intended to be smoked in a hookah or water pipe.
  • The sales of household dishwasher detergents and lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus will be banned to prevent harm to water sources. However, the law won’t take effect for commercial establishments until July 1, 2013.

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