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New year brings new laws for Long Island residents

A person smokes an electronic cigarette on Wednesday,

A person smokes an electronic cigarette on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Credit: Press Association Images / Tim Ireland

Nearly a dozen state and local laws that will impact Long Islanders take effect, Thursday, New Year's Day, including an increase in the age to purchase tobacco products in Suffolk County, new electronics recycling rules and tax credits for businesses that hire veterans.

Following are details of some of the key measures:

1. Smoking age

The legal age to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products in Suffolk will rise to 21 from 19, under an anti-smoking law passed by the Suffolk County Legislature in March.

The law makes it illegal for stores in the county to sell cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers, chewing tobacco, pipes, e-cigarettes and other products to those who are underage.

Health advocates argued Suffolk's bill will save lives by making it more difficult for young people to start smoking. Convenience store owners opposed the bill as a hit on their businesses, which they said haven't fully recovered from the recession.

Stores face fines of $300 to $1,000 for the first offense, and $500 to $1,500 for the second.

In 2013, New York City raised the age to purchase tobacco to 21. The legal age to purchase tobacco products in Nassau County is 19.

2. Electronics recycling

A provision of a 2010 Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act that kicks in Thursday requires individuals to recycle electronics such as computers, televisions, tablets and video game consoles. The bill already prohibits manufacturers and retailers from discarding the electronic devices.

3. Tax credits

Businesses statewide will be able to claim tax credits for hiring U.S. Armed Forces veterans.

The credit is equal to 10 percent of the wages paid to the veteran during his or her first year of employment and 15 percent if the veteran is disabled. The credit is capped at $5,000 per veteran and $15,000 per disabled veteran.

Tax incentives also will be available to businesses that employ individuals with developmental disabilities. The credit is equal to 15 percent of the wages of a full-time employee and 10 percent for a part-timer.

4. Homeless veterans

The state will create a fund to help homeless veterans pay for housing expenses. New Yorkers can make contributions to the fund when filing their income taxes.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), sponsor of the measure, said the "law ensures that those most vulnerable are not forgotten, that they will not be permitted to fall through the cracks, and that we as New Yorkers will meet our commitment."

5. Adult care background checks

Adult care facilities will be required to perform criminal background checks on new hires. Similar requirements already are in place for employees of nursing homes and home care agencies.

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), sponsor of the legislation, said the law will "help protect more than 300,000 elderly living in adult care facilities across the state."

6. Financial disclosure

A new Nassau law, approved by the county legislature in May, requires elected officials, political candidates, political party officials and county employees in policy-making positions to file personal financial disclosure statements annually with the county board of ethics.

Previously, only elected officials and state and local candidates were required to file personal financial disclosure forms.

The disclosure form, which must be filed by May 15, includes all wages, stocks, properties, investments and trusts held by the individual or their spouse.

Among those who now must file disclosure forms are trustees of Nassau Community College, County Executive Edward Mangano and top administration aides, Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and his top deputies, and the highest ranking attorneys and investigators at the district attorney's office.

7. Drinking water tests

Suffolk County will be required to test wells and drinking water for 1,4-Dioxane, a chemical found in household products such as laundry detergents, shampoos and hand soap. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists 1,4-Dioxane as a probable human carcinogen. The EPA has not established a maximum allowable level in drinking water, but requires health advisories to be issued if concentrations reach a sustained level of 0.2 mg per liter. The county will hire a new employee to conduct the groundwater testing.

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