Photo: Will Waldron, Albany Times Union
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ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed more than a handful of notable new bills into law over the past week that range from increasing the number of crimes that can be categorized as domestic violence, to banning discrimination in the workplace based on religious attire or facial hair.
The new laws add to other measures already passed and signed after the New York state Legislative session ended in June, which included decriminalizing marijuana, allowing the mounting of traffic cameras on stop signs to monitor school bus safety, and banning veterinarians from performing cat declawing.
The bills signed into law starting Aug. 5 include:
Increased domestic violence protections
There are three pieces of legislation that are meant to expand protections for victims of domestic violence. The first broadens the definition of the crime of domestic violence to include forms of economic abuse that can be perpetrated by a partner, such as identity theft, grand larceny and coercion.
The other law allows victims to not subject themselves to being targeted by a suspect by allowing victims to vote by mail-in ballot. Also, victims will now be able to report abuse to any law enforcement agency in the state, regardless of where the alleged violence took place.
Ban on attire, facial hair discrimination
A new law amends the New York State Human Rights Law to make clear that employers cannot refuse to hire, promote, or take other discriminatory action against a person for wearing attire or facial hair in accordance with tenets of their religion.
The law provides more specifics to back up what the New York State Human Rights Law already establishes, which is to prohibit employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of a person’s religion. It also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices.
Criminalizing staged accidents
It will now be a Class E felony for a person to intentionally cause a motor vehicle accident with the intent to defraud an insurance carrier. The law also makes it a Class D felony when a person commits that same crime and causes serious physical injury to any individual who was not a participant in the crime.
The legislation is named after Alice Ross, who in 2003 was driving in Queens when she was struck by a man who wanted to file a fraudulent insurance claim for injuries. The grandmother died from her injuries, and the 22-year-old man was later convicted of manslaughter.
The state has now expanded a law covering boating safety course requirements, making anyone born after Jan. 1, 1993, required to complete a safety course to operate a motorboat by Jan. 1 next year.
An earlier law required those born after May 1, 1996, to complete the course on operating a motorized watercraft.
The measure is a phase-in by age, and requires that every boater ultimately take the safety course by 2025. Failure to comply could result in a fine of between $100 and $250.
The law is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating accident.
The state also plans to launch a promotional campaign to remind boaters of the new requirement. The state estimates that there are nearly one million boaters who will have to take the safety courses – most of which can be taken online.
The law does not apply to operators of sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, rowboats or canoes.
Ban on undetectable knives
The state has now banned the manufacture, transport, shipment, and possession of knives that are undetectable by a metal detector. Possessing such a weapons will also now be considered a Class A misdemeanor.
Cuomo’s office said technological developments, such as 3-D laser printing machines, has led to the making of knives that are made of a material that is undetectable by a metal detector. The law now makes it illegal for any person to knowingly possess, make, sell or transport such weapons in New York state.
Members of the military and police officers, however, may continue to carry such weapons for official use.
That law goes into effect on Nov. 1.