ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A new year means new laws. In New York, local governments had until the end of the year to decide if they wanted to opt-out of having marijuana dispensaries, minimum wage increases go into effect as well as stricter rules on solitary confinement.
Find out what new laws will be going into effect below:
Minimum wage increase
The minimum wage in New York has been increasing to $15 since 2016. New York City, Long Island, and Westchester already have a $15 minimum wage. On Dec. 31 minimum wage in the rest of the state will move to $13.20 an hour. When will that be increased to $15?
The state said the Division of the Budget Director and the Department of Labor will meet to determine future increases. Future increases will be set based on an annual review of how the increases have made an impact.
Marijuana sales opt-out
By the end of the year, municipalities had to decide whether they were going to allow recreational marijuana to be sold. Opting out of allowing marijuana to be sold also means those municipalities are also opting out of tax revenue.
The Rockefeller Institute of Government created the Marijuana Opt-Out Tracker to monitor municipalities’ decisions.
Beginning Jan. 1 restaurants will no longer be able to use polystyrene containers, like Styrofoam, for take-out or give them to customers so they can take home their leftovers. The law was adopted in 2020 and despite supply shortages, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has set up a system where people can make complaints about businesses not complying with the law.
The first violation will cost businesses up to $250. A second will cost businesses up to $500 and/or a third violation up to $1,000. According to the DEC, fines collected will be put into the Environmental Protection Fund.
To further protect whistleblowers the definition of employee now includes former employees. Retaliation was also expanded to include actions or threats that would impact a former employee’s employment, current or future. It also includes threats to or contacting immigration. The statute of limitations was also extended to two years. This will take effect on Jan. 26, 2022.
Solitary confinement is limited to no more than 15 days under the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. It is banned entirely for minors, people over the age of 55, pregnant inmates, and those with disabilities. The law becomes effective Apr. 1, 2022.
Electronic monitoring of employees
Employees must be notified before they are hired if an employer will be electronically monitoring them in any way. Employers will also have to post the notice and give employees an annual notice. The law will take effect at the beginning of May.