Sen. Ritchie says several new laws will impact St. Lawrence County residents
Sunday, January 8, 2017 - 4:48 pm

State Sen. Patty Ritchie R-Heuvelton says several new laws will benefit St. Lawrence County residents.

“With the arrival of a New Year comes change—and that includes change for New York State too, as in 2017, a number of measures aimed at making life better for people in the Empire State go into effect,” she said in a prepared statement.

Ritchie says New Yorkers will have expanded options for investing in higher education under a new law that authorizes taxpayers to make direct deposit contributions of personal income tax refunds into a New York State 529 College Savings Program.

She says St. Lawrence County residents will also have additional assistance in dealing with the surge in heroin and opioid use.

“While most provisions of legislation passed to address heroin and opioid abuse took effect when signed into law earlier this year, some elements—including those that expand access to treatment and make it easier for those seeking help to get it—go into effect at the start of the New Year,” she said.

Emergency responders got some additional help as well. The state’s “Move Over Law”—which requires motorists to move over when passing authorized emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road— will now cover volunteers.

“On Jan. 17, a bill I supported to expand this important protection will go into effect and will require that drivers move over for any vehicle displaying a blue or green light, such as those being operated by volunteer firefighters or volunteer ambulance operators,” she said.

Other laws taking effect in January include:

• Continued incentives for hiring heroes: The “Hire-A-Vet Tax Credit,” which I was proud to support and discussed in a recent column, grants a two year extension allowing tax credits for businesses that hire a veteran returning home from military service on a full time basis. Businesses may earn up to $5,000 for hiring a qualified veteran and up to $15,000 if the veteran is also disabled.

• Increased opportunities for giving the gift of life: With the New Year comes additional opportunities for enrolling as an organ and tissue donor in the New York State Donate Life Registry. Under a new law, New Yorkers applying for health insurance offered through the New York State of Health Insurance Exchange will be able to sign up to be part of the Donate Life Registry.