N.Y. enacts new laws on taxes, roads, sale of hookahs

Christine Loman
The Hip Hop Hippy Shop in Cameron Mills sells hookahs and water pipes. A manager says the shop had a policy before the new law not to sell to minors.

The state enacted about a dozen new laws with the start of 2012. Among the laws that began Jan. 1 are a tax cut for the middle class and a property tax cap.

About 4.4 million middle class taxpayers will receive $690 million in income tax relief, bringing tax rates to their lowest levels in more than 50 years.

The property tax cap also went into effect. It puts a cap on the growth of school district and local property tax levies of two percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

Tax relief for manufacturers, provisions for flood relief and recovery and inflation adjustments to reduce personal income taxes were also enacted.

Roadway maintenance and construction crews received more protection on roadways with a new law requiring drivers to move to adjacent lanes when passing hazard vehicles on the side of the road. The old law required drivers to change lanes only for emergency vehicles. The change provides an added safety measure for roadside workers helping stranded vehicles, doing maintenance or removing snow.

Other new laws reduce the number of commercial fishing licenses issued by the DEC, ban the sale and possession of bear gallbladder and bile — used in some forms of ancient medicine — and ban the sale of household dishwasher solutions containing phosphorus.

The sale of hookahs, water pipes and shisha, a tobacco product, to minors is now banned.