New year brings new laws, plus hikes in minimum wage

Posted: Updated:
ALBANY -

The start of the new year means several new laws are taking effect in New York state.

In Westchester, the minimum wage just went up from $11 to $12 per hour, a sizable sum compared to the national average of $7.25. But for some, $12 is still too low, especially as large employers in New York City now have to pay $15.

Another new law: all public bathrooms must offer diaper-changing stations. That includes both men's and women's restrooms.

Pharmacies also have a new responsibility. They must provide customers with a way to return unused prescription drugs, then dispose of them in the right way. Called the Drug Take Back Act, lawmakers hope it helps keep pills like opioids from ending up either in the wrong hands or the public water supply.

Another new state law means volunteer firefighters will now receive state health disability coverage for certain cancers caused by fighting fires.

And other new laws kicking in include one that mandates health insurers to give men access to prostate exams, and a boost in paid family leave from eight weeks to 10.

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