Mosley Op-Ed: New Year and New Laws that Will Benefit our Community

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As we ring in 2017, New Yorkers have a lot to celebrate. For starters, many local area workers will have more money in their pockets thanks to a higher minimum wage. In addition, more first responders are protected along roadways, and it is more affordable and convenient to get screened for breast cancer. I’d like to share how these new laws taking effect in January might help you and your loved ones.

Every New Yorker deserves to make a livable wage, and we’re making progress on that front. Thousands of workers across the state are now bringing home more money because the minimum wage increased on Dec. 31. This helps hardworking Local Area families make ends meet. And with more increases taking effect in coming years, we will continue to lift working families out of poverty.

In New York City, the minimum wage increased to $11.00 per hour and will go up in $2.00 increments each year until it hits $15.00 in 2018. For New York City businesses with 10 or fewer employees, the minimum wage increased to $10.50 on Dec. 31 and will continue to increase $1.50 each year. It is scheduled to reach $15.00 in 2019. For Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, the minimum wage rose to $10.00 on Dec. 31. It will increase $1.00 each year to reach $15.00 per hour in 2021.

Veterans risk their lives to protect our country and the values it represents, and it’s important that we do everything we can to help them once they come home. The state budget I helped pass extended the Hire-a-Veteran tax credit through 2018 to help more members of the military find good jobs and build a bright future when they return (Ch. 60 of 2016).

Assemblyman Walter Mosley

In addition, I’m working to make the health and safety of all New Yorkers a top priority, including first responders – the people who help keep us safe. I supported/sponsored an expansion of the “Move Over” law to require drivers to slow down and move over for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers whose vehicles have flashing blue or green lights (Ch. 97 of 2016). The law already covered first responders and hazard vehicles that display red, white and/or amber flashing lights. We have seen far too many avoidable fatalities affect our communities, and it’s important for all of us to exercise caution, slow down and move over when we see these vehicles.

I’m committed to making life more affordable for New Yorkers. That is why I helped permanently extend the Earned Income Tax Credit for noncustodial parents who are current on their child support payments and meet the income threshold for a single taxpayer without children (Ch. 60 of 2016). In addition, homeowners are now eligible for a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance premiums upon completing a natural disaster preparedness, home safety and loss prevention course (Ch. 54 of 2016). I will keep working to keep more of your hard-earned money right where it belongs – in your pocket.

We also continued to make important progress in combating the devastating heroin epidemic, which has destroyed thousands of families across New York. I helped pass a law to reduce the stigma of medication-assisted treatment for those with a substance abuse disorder. Credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors are now required to complete training in medication-assisted treatment as part of their continuing education requirements (Ch. 493 of 2016). This year’s state budget provided $26 million to strengthen prevention and treatment programs and safely dispose of pharmaceuticals.

Moreover, individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders will no longer need prior approval from insurance companies in order to access inpatient drug treatment services (Ch. 71 of 2016). Insurers will also cover an emergency five-day supply of medication to help overcome their disease without prior approval, as well as medications to treat drug overdoses (Ch. 69 of 2016). Heroin and opioids have taken far too many lives, and New Yorkers deserve to be aware of and have more treatment options available to them.

It’s also important to be proactive when it comes to protecting our health, which is why New York expanded access to breast cancer screenings. Early detection of breast cancer can save lives. Starting this year, insurance companies can no longer require New Yorkers to pay annual deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance payments for screening and diagnostic imaging for the detection of breast cancer (Ch. 74 of 2016). This includes diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds and MRIs. In addition, more hospitals and clinics are now required to offer extended hours to make it easier for women who work full time to get potentially lifesaving screenings. New York City employees also now have the right to four hours of paid leave per year for breast cancer screenings

As we enter 2017, it is important now more than ever that New York leads by example and remains a progressive champion. We have led the way on a number of important issues, and I’ll keep fighting to help each and every New Yorker get ahead as the new legislative session kicks off. From helping to create more and better jobs, to giving students an education that sets them up for future success, to keeping dangerous drugs off our streets and helping those struggling with dependency, I’ll always work to keep us moving in the right direction.