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New state laws start Jan. 1, 2013

    NEW YORK STATE—A number of new state laws will take effect with the start of the new year, Tuesday, Jan. 1. The new regulations include banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, new protections for domestic violence victims, a solar energy sales tax exemption, and allow craft breweries to enter into more contracts with wholesalers.
    According to the New York State Senate, the sale of electronic cigarettes to people under the age of 18 years of age will be banned in 2013. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, e-cigarettes could serve as a pathway to nicotine addiction for children, leading them to smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products. In addition, the Federal Drug Administration has warned that e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans or that may otherwise be unsafe.
    Part of the new domestic violence reform law, designed to protect victims’ healthcare and insurance information, will be in effect Jan. 1. The law includes several important provisions to protect victims of domestic violence and establish stronger criminal penalties to punish individuals who commit acts of domestic violence.
    As of the first of the year, victims of domestic violence who seek medical and/or mental health services and use their health insurance to pay for that care, can designate alternative contact information so they may receive health insurance correspondence in a safe location of their own choosing, such as the home of a friend or family member, a post office box, or a shelter.
    The solar energy sales tax law exempts the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment from state sales tax and compensating use taxes. Under the new regulation, municipalities will also have the authority to provide this exemption from local sales and use taxes.
    One new law focuses on distribution of beer produced by small, independent brewers. According to the state senate, it will give New York’s craft breweries the means to end unfavorable, exclusive contracts with beer wholesalers. In 1996, the Beer Franchise Law strengthened distributing contracts to protect small, family-owned wholesalers from arbitrary termination by large multinational breweries. Since then, the number of wholesalers has dropped in New York state from 112 in 1996 to fewer than 60 today.
    The state senate explains this measure will help the growth of the state’s small independent breweries by allowing them to end costly exclusive contracts with large wholesalers that do not market or promote their brands without having to undertake lengthy legal procedures that may not provide relief. The law defines small brewers as those who produce less than 300,000 barrels of beer annually, and whose sales to a wholesaler are three percent or less of a multi-brand beer wholesaler’s annual business.
    Another new law will allow eligible private and public colleges and universities in New York state to self-insure for their students’ health insurance needs.  An advantage to becoming self-insured is that the plan can be designed to meet the needs of the students and can reduce administrative costs. Most states in the country already allow private colleges and universities to self-insure for their students’ health insurance.





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