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New laws in effect for 2019 in New York

(WBNG) — 2019 brings new changes to the state of New York, which will affect people in the Southern Tier.

Minimum wage is bumping up 70 cents to $11.10 an hour. Local business owners say this could be problematic.

“They raise minimum wage,” said co-owner of The Spot Restaurant, Spyros Dimatos. “Everyone raises their prices and we’ve got this shrinking middle class because their wages don’t keep up with the raise in minimum wage and inflation and everything else.”

The Spot Restaurant on Upper Front Street in the town of Chenango has several employees who make minimum wage.

Dimatos says he’ll need to find a new way to equal out supply and demand.

“So we’ll have to raise prices and hopefully we can find that balancing act where we don’t raise the prices too much to scare away customers,” he said. “It’s very tricky and troubling.”

Another new law, baby changing tables required in bathrooms at all restaurants for both men and women.

The Spot already has had this in place for more than two decades.

“If it’s something your customer wants and if the restaurant is responsive and can do it, great,” said Dimatos. “It’s not a big investment.”

Paid family leave has increased from eight to ten weeks. Lawmakers say it’s a good idea.

“I think the impact on the business community was not quite as difficult as they originally had intended,” said New York State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. “When people need to take time off to care for a loved one it’s really important to have that ability.”

Volunteer firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancers can become eligible for state disability coverage.

“Firefighters, including volunteer firefighters, have much higher incidents of contracting certain cancers versus the general public,” said John D’Alessandro with the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

Drug stores and pharmacies will also be required to provide ways to give back unused medications.

Sports gambling and recreational marijuana will be hot topics for lawmakers in the new year.

Esperanza Gutierrez

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