On August 8, 2022, the Governor signed a bill amending Real Property Tax Law 467(3)(a), “increasing the amount of income property owners may earn for the purpose of eligibility for the property tax exemption for persons sixty-five years of age or over and for persons with disabilities and limited income.”[i] This bill “allows municipalities to increase the maximum income eligible for New York’s real property tax exemption to $50,000 for people age 65 and over and people with disabilities. Before today, the maximum income eligible was $29,000 per year outside of New York City for seniors and people with disabilities.”[ii]

According to the bill, “New York State has a growing number of low-income seniors on fixed incomes and persons with disabilities who have limited income who are faced with ever increasing property taxes making it difficult for them to continue to live in and maintain their own homes.”[iii]  The bill was designed to lessen the burden of increasing property taxes and “allowing local governments the option to raise the maximum income eligibility limit for the Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Exemption program and the Persons with Disabilities Real Property Tax Exemption.”[iv]

“Under the new legislation, qualifying senior citizens and persons living with disabilities will be eligible to receive up to a 50% reduction on their assessment.…”[v] “This reduction is reflected in county, town, and school taxes. A reduction of 50% is the maximum allowed exemption and requires an annual household income of $50,000 or less to qualify.”[vi]  There is a sliding scale based upon the annual household income.[vii]

To date, at least one local municipality, the Town of Hempstead, has indicated that it intends to opt-in to the legislation as soon as possible.[viii] There are certain requirements to obtain this tax exemption, including that “all owners of the property must be 65 years of age or older, or if owned by husband and wife, one must be 65 years of age or older. The applicant must own the property and have owned the property for at least 12 consecutive months, or have owned a previous residence in New York State for one year prior to filing for this exemption.”[ix] Generally, in order to obtain such an exemption, a senior citizen must file an application each year.[x]

If you have any question concerning your property taxes, please feel free to contact Christopher E. Vatter, Esq. or Andrew M. Mahony, Esq. at (516) 746-8000.

[i] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S3085

[ii]https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-strengthen-housing-affordability-new-york-seniors-and

[iii] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S3085

[iv] Id.

[v] https://hempsteadny.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=160

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] https://hempsteadny.gov/395/Senior-Citizen

[x] Id.

“This bill seeks to protect workers from corporations and their agents that fail to comply with safety protocols by amending the penal code to create new offenses and substantially increasing the fines that can be imposed upon a corporate defendant convicted of certain crimes.”[1] The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Hochul.

“Carlos’ Law is named for 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo, an Ecuadorean immigrant . . .  who was buried alive at a construction site in New York City’s meatpacking district in April 2015 while working in an unreinforced 13-feet-deep trench that had been cited by safety inspectors.”[2] “On the morning of April 6, 2015, according to the New York Times, an inspector visited the site, noticed a trench without proper earth-retaining equipment, and issued a warning. Mere hours later, the walls of the trench collapsed on Moncayo, who was pronounced dead on the scene.”[3]

The contractor “was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment. . . . But despite these criminal convictions, the Moncayo family, who faced the tragic loss of a son and brother, reportedly did not receive any compensation.”[4] The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the contractor approximately $10,000 (the maximum fine possible) for this negligence.”[5]

The proposed bill would raise the maximum fine for criminal liability from $10,000 to no less than $500,000, or, in the case of a misdemeanor, no less than $300,000.[6]   The proposed bill explains that:

Workplace deaths and serious injuries continue to be commonplace in the construction industry. Of the more than 400,000 workplace fatalities since Congress, enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), fewer than 80 have been prosecuted, and only about a dozen employers have been convicted. That is roughly 1-conviction for every 33,000 fatalities. In the few cases that have resulted in conviction, the penalty was only $1,000 on average. Under the OSH Act, the criminal penalty is considered as a Class B misdemeanor, and carries, at most, up to 6 months imprisonment. The weakness of OSH’s punitive measures has therefore failed to encourage safer work environments.[7]

“This bill increases punitive measures so that corporations and their agents who ignore or fail to follow safety protocols and procedures and put workers at risk are less likely to write off serious workplace injuries as a minimal cost of doing business, and more likely to give workplace safety the serious attention it requires.”[8]

It is hopeful that this proposed bill will encourage contractors to maintain a safe construction site. The information in this article is subject to change depending on whether the proposed bill is signed by the Governor.  We will keep our readers informed with respect to any new developments.

The material in this article is meant only to provide general information and is not a substitute nor is it legal advice to you. In the event you need legal assistance, contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[1] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S621

[2] https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/in-the-news/jessica-ramos/what-happened-carlos-law

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S621

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

Effective as of June 9, 2022, the Administrative Code of the City of New York[1] was amended to require that “certain businesses that supply their employees to clients for the performance of construction work or manual labor on the client’s construction site, in exchange for compensation, be licensed.”[2]

These businesses are defined as “construction labor providers”[3].  “Construction Labor Providers, also known as body shops or temp agencies, are businesses that supply temporary workers to third-party clients for non-union construction work or manual labor.”[4]  Notwithstanding, “[t]he term ‘construction’ in this bill explicitly excludes handyman work.”[5] A license is also not required for employment agencies, professional employer organizations, general contractors and subcontractors (as defined in §20-564 of the NYC Administrative Code[6]).

As explained by Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga of the  Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, ‘“[t]emporary construction workers are often immigrants or individuals reentering the workforce and vulnerable to mistreatment and fear retaliation for reporting abuse.”’[7] This law is designed to ensure that: ‘“businesses employing these workers are licensed, inform [Department of Consumer and Worker Protection] of their business operations, maintain records, and provide their workers with information about their rights and responsibilities, which will increase transparency and safety in the industry.”’[8]

“Applying for a license would require certain signed statements and select information on business operations, and each covered business would have to supply their workers with a series of notices: on their rights as workers covered by this bill; training and certifications the employees would need to perform their work duties; and information on the employees’ work assignments.” [9]

“Businesses that violate the bill’s subchapter would also be subject to penalties. Employees of the businesses aggrieved by a violation of the bill’s subchapter would be able to initiate a private right of action against their employers for violations of the bill, including for retaliation against employees for availing themselves of rights provided by this bill.”[10]

This is another issue to be considered when performing construction work in New York City. Jaspan Schlesinger LLP can help you navigate these issues and other construction law related matters. If you need assistance, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

 

[1] 2022 N.Y.C. Local Law No. 150, N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§150-564.

[2] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/about/new-laws-rules.page

[3] A construction labor provider “means a person who employs and supplies a covered construction worker to a third party client for the performance of construction work or manual labor for a construction project of such client on a site in the city, in exchange for compensation from such third party client, provided that the completion of such project is directed by such client or such client’s contractor and not such person.” (2022 N.Y.C. Local Law No. 150, N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§150-564.1).

[4] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr060922-DCWP-Begins-Licensing-Construction-Labor-Providers.page

[5] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/about/new-laws-rules.page; see also NYC Administrative Code §20-564 and 28-105.4.2.1/

[6] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/businesses/license-checklist-construction-labor-provider.page

[7] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr060922-DCWP-Begins-Licensing-Construction-Labor-Providers.page

[8] Id.

[9] https://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4966517&GUID=23CA198A-0612-439D-AB54-14065535D735&Options=ID|Text|&Search= see also Construction Labor Provider License Application Checklist.

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/businesses/license-checklist-construction-labor-provider.page#:~:text=Who%20Must%20Have%20a%20Construction,worksites%20in%20exchange%20for%20compensation.

[10]  https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/about/new-laws-rules.page#:~:text=require%20certain%20businesses%20that,provided%20by%20this%20bill.

On June 30, 2022, Governor Hochul signed legislation[1] that: “expands which documents can be used to show identity theft in certain circumstances relating to debt collection.”[2] “Under current law, a principal creditor shall cease collection activities until completion of the review of certain information submitted by a debtor who claims they were the victim of identity theft. The victim must have filed a police report alleging the identity theft; there is no alternative reporting permitted under the law.”[3]

However, not all identity theft occurs between parties that do not know each other.  Often identity theft “occurs as a result of a domestic violence or an elder abuse situation, where the perpetrator is known to the victim. Under circumstances where the victim is familiar with the perpetrator, the victim may not be able to or may not wish to pursue criminal charges.”[4] “The current law compels a victim of identity theft to report such crime to law enforcement, whether they wish to or not or whether it is safe for them to do so or not, in order for collection activities against them to be suspended as further investigation is made into the legitimacy of the debt.”[5]

Recognizing the difficulties presented where the perpetrator is known to the victim, the law now expands the types of documents which can be used to show identity theft relating to debt collection in lieu of a victim reporting the identity theft to law enforcement. Under the new law, these new documents include Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement reports, as well as criminal and family court documents which support the statement of identity theft.[6]

If you are the victim of identity theft and need assistance with the types of documents needed to report the theft of your identity, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[1] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S9359

[2] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislative-package-empower-victims-crime

[3] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S9359

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

In an effort to move to fully electronic processing of trademark applications and registrations and to positively impact the environment by reducing the use of paper, effective June 7, 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will begin issuing electronic trademark registration certificates.  The change to electronic trademark registration certificates is intended to give trademark owners easier and quicker access to their trademark certificates upon registration.

In making the transition to electronic registration certificates, the USPTO is acknowledging the strong consumer preference for the issuance of trademark registration certificates in a digital format rather than as a paper certificate.  The change will also decrease the time it takes for trademark owners to receive registration certificates.

As of June 7, 2022, trademark registration certificates will no longer be issued by the USPTO by printing them on paper and mailing them to the correspondence address of record.  Instead, the registrations will issue electronically under the electronic signature of the Director of the USPTO with a digital seal.  The digital seal will authenticate the trademark registration.  The electronic registration certificate will be uploaded to the USPTO database, with notice emailed to the trademark owner with a link to access the certificate upon issuance.  Trademark owners will be able to use the link to view, download, and print a complete copy of the registration certificate at no charge at any time.

However, trademark owners will still be able to order a “presentation” copy of the registration certificate.  The presentation copy is a one-page, condensed, printed copy of the issued registration that is suitable for framing.  The presentation copy will be printed on heavy paper; feature a gold foil seal; identify the owners; display bibliographic data, the trademark, and the classes of goods and/or services of the trademark.  There is a $25 fee for each presentation copy, which can be ordered through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System database.  For a $15 fee, trademark owners will still be able to order certified copies of their trademark registration certificates from the USPTO.  The certified copy can be used in connection with legal proceedings and certifies the trademark’s status and title and includes the signature of the authorized certifying officer.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the filing of any trademark applications or obtaining trademark registration certificates, contact the Chair of our Trademark Practice Group, Scott Fisher, at (516) 393-8248 or sfisher@jaspanllp.com.

“On December 21, 2021, the Real Property Law was changed to require that before appointment as an office manager, an associate broker shall have been active as a licensed associate broker for at least two of the four years preceding appointment. Additionally, office managers are required to exercise the same duty of supervision over salespersons and associate brokers as a licensed real estate broker.”[i]  The purpose of this Amendment was: “[t]o mandate that licensed associate brokers, operating as office managers, have the same statutory obligations of oversight placed on brokers at their definite place of business.”[ii]

“In New York, real estate brokers are required to maintain and supervise a principal place of business. Additionally, brokers with numerous offices can appoint a licensed associate real estate broker as an office manager to oversee their branch offices. An associate real estate broker has the same licensing credentials as a broker and can work as an independent agent, but has chosen to work under the name and supervision of another broker.”[iii]

Notwithstanding, “unlike a broker, associate brokers acting as office managers are not held to the same statutory obligations of oversight placed on brokers at their principal place of business. Instead, office managers are held to the same standards as a real estate agent while maintaining their broker’s license. This lack of oversight over agents by office managers can manifest itself with agents who are not properly trained and supervised in their behavior, performance, and compliance with fair housing regulations.”[iv]

This amendment was designed to ensure that the office manager are held to the same standards as a licensed real estate broker.[v]   As explained in the proposed Bill, “[t]his bill would require that associate brokers acting as office managers are held to the same standards as licensed real estate brokers, and ensures that proper oversight is given over real estate agents irrespective of whether they are working out of a broker’s principal place of business or branch office under an office manager.”[vi]

New York Real Property Law Section 440(6) now provides that:

 “Office manager” means a licensed associate real estate broker who shall by choice elect to work as an office manager under the name and supervision of another individual broker or another broker who is licensed under a partnership, trade name, limited liability company or corporation. An associate real estate broker shall be required to have been active as a licensed associate broker for at least two of the four years preceding appointment as an office manager. Such individual shall retain his or her license as a real estate broker as provided for in this article and shall be required to exercise the same duty of supervision over salesmen and associate brokers as a licensed real estate broker; provided, however, that the practice of real estate sales and brokerage by such individual as an associate broker shall be governed exclusively by the provisions of this article as they pertain to real estate salesmen. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall preclude an individual who is licensed as an associate broker who elects to work as an office manager from also retaining a separate real estate broker’s license under an individual, partnership, trade name, limited liability company or corporation.

For further information, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[i] https://dos.ny.gov/important-updates-licensing

[ii] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S2157

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v]  Id.

[vi] Id.

“On December 21, 2021, New York Real Property Law section 442-h (rules of the Secretary of State relating to real estate brokers and salespersons) was amended to require, in part, that real estate brokers ‘institute standardized operating procedures for the prerequisites prospective homebuyers must meet prior to receiving any services.’”[i] The Bill signed in December required that:

“(a) The secretary of state, upon notice and a public hearing, shall promulgate rules and regulations requiring real estate brokers to institute standardized operating procedures for the prerequisites prospective homebuyers must meet prior to receiving any services. Such rules and regulations shall include but not be limited to the following:

(i) whether prospective clients shall show identification;

(ii) whether an exclusive broker agreement is required; and

(iii) whether pre-approval for a mortgage loan is required.

(b) Real estate brokers shall submit such standardized operating procedures to the department of state and the department of state shall maintain a file of such standardized operating procedures while the broker’s license is active and for at least five years thereafter. If any alterations are made to the standardized operating procedures subsequent to such submission, real estate brokers shall notify and submit such new standard operating procedures within thirty days. Any salesperson operating under a brokerage license that fails to adhere to such operating procedures shall be subject to the penalties imposed by section four hundred forty-one-c of this article.”[ii]

“[S]tarting April 20, 2022, every real estate broker, operating within the State of New York, shall have on each publicly available website and mobile device application they maintain a list of standardized operating procedures.”[iii] “Brokers must keep an archive of all standardized procedures, for as long as they are actively licensed, by having each amendment date stamped and notarized. All new procedures must be posted and made available, at each brokerage office and online, within 30 days of any changes.”[iv]  Finally, “[a]ny broker or salesperson operating under a brokerage license that fails to adhere to such operating procedures shall be subject to discipline.”[v]

For further information, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[i] https://dos.ny.gov/important-updates-licensing

[ii] N.Y. Real P. Law §442-h.

[iii] https://dos.ny.gov/real-estate-broker#:~:text=On%20December%2021%2C%202021%2C%20New,homebuyers%20must%20meet%20prior%20to

[iv] https://dos.ny.gov/important-updates-licensing

[v] Id.

On November 7, 2021, the Governor signed a Bill known as the “Anthony Amoros’ Law”, that “prohibits used car dealers from selling vehicles at retail without a functioning airbag.”[1]  This Bill amends New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law § 417. In particular, the Bill “prohibits retail dealers of second hand motor vehicles from selling a motor vehicle which is subject to federal motor vehicle safety standards for inflatable restraint systems unless such vehicle is equipped with an inflatable restraint system which conforms to the federal motor vehicle safety standard applicable to that vehicle and a readiness indicator light indicating a functioning inflatable restraint system.”[2]

Although it sounds counterintuitive, prior to the enactment of this Bill, there was no requirement that a used vehicle which was sold by a licensed dealer needed to have a working airbag.  This Bill was named after “a young man from Rockland who died in a car crash in a car that, unbeknownst to him, was sold to him without airbags.”[3] The Bill requires that a dealer must now provide a certificate certifying that the used vehicle is equipped with an airbag and that the readiness indicator light indicates that the airbag light is operable.[4] The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that the airbag system is installed and functioning as it was designed to prevent future injuries and to hopefully save lives.

It is important for both used car dealers and customers to be aware of the changes in the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law which may impact them. If you need assistance, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[1] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-ensure-used-vehicles-are-sold-functioning-airbags

[2] Senate Bill S1834A.

[3]https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-ensure-used-vehicles-are-sold-functioning-airbags

[4] Senate Bill S1834A.

We are all aware of car and motorcycle enthusiasts who modify their muffler and exhaust systems on their vehicles to obtain better performance or better sounding vehicles (and have heard the sound generated from these modified exhaust systems).  You have also likely been on a roadway in New York and seen bumper stickers with the slogan “Loud Pipes Saves Lives”.  Apparently, Governor Hochul disagrees with these enthusiasts and with these slogans.

On October 29, 2021, Governor Hochul signed BillS784B, which increases “enforcement against motorists and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems to make them excessively noisy for motor vehicles and motorcycles.”[i] This bill goes into effect on April 1, 2022.[ii]  “This bill amends vehicle and traffic law, increasing fines and penalties and creating stricter regulations on vehicle equipment. Maximum fines for installing illegal equipment will be raised to $1,000, an $850 increase. Inspection stations will also be required to inspect motorcycles to ensure mufflers and exhausts have not been illegally modified.”[iii]

This new bill will have an impact on both the enthusiasts and the repair shops who sell, install and service such vehicles.[iv] As part of this law, inspection stations must inspect the motorcycle exhaust systems to ensure compliance.  Inspection stations who willfully fail to inspect a motorcycle exhaust system for compliance run the risk of their operating certificate being suspended.[v]

With the proliferation of electric vehicles, noise pollution from motor vehicles will be less of an issue, that is, until some car or motorcycle enthusiast figures out a way to increase performance of such vehicles and to make them sound better.

For further information, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com.

[i] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S784

[ii] Id.

[iii] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-cracking-down-noisy-illegal-mufflers-and-exhaust-systems

[iv] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S784

[v] Id. (“Section three of the bill amends Subdivision (e) of section 303 of the vehicle and traffic law to provide that the Commissioner of Transportation shall suspend or revoke the certificate of inspection stations upon a third or subsequent willful violation, all within a period of eighteen months, of any rule or regulation of the commissioner requiring an inspection station to inspect the muffler or exhaust system of a motorcycle as set forth in subdivision (c) of section 79.28 of title 15 of the codes, rules and regulations of the state of New York.”).

 

According to the United States Census Bureau, women make up nearly half of the United States work force.[i] Notwithstanding, as of 2019, women make up only 27% of workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”).[ii]  “Women employed full-time, year-round in STEM occupations earned more than their non-STEM counterparts but the gender earnings gap persisted within STEM occupations.”[iii] Men also outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. [iv] “The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.”[v]

“Women and minorities are severely underrepresented in STEM, often because they were not encouraged to early on. In a 2010 survey by the Bayer Corporation of female and minority chemists and chemical engineers, 77 percent said significant numbers of women and minorities are missing from the U.S. STEM work force because ‘they were not identified, encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.”’[vi]

In an attempt to address this issue, on December 22, 2021, Governor Hochul signed a Bill[vii] “directing the urban development corporation to conduct a study regarding the assistance needed to encourage women and minorities to pursue technology careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)”. It is hopeful that: “[t]his bill will help identify the types of assistance necessary to encourage more women and minorities to enter STEM fields.”[viii]

According to Senator Anna M. Kaplan, “[s]o many employers in today’s high-tech, global economy consistently struggle to find enough qualified individuals to fill the high-skill, high-paying jobs they create, and the workforce has never been truly reflective of the diversity of our community. It’s time we helped more young women and people of color to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, and by encouraging these underrepresented groups to pursue STEM studies, we can provide greater opportunities for more young people in our community, and fill a critical need for workers skilled in the areas of demand in today’s economy.”[ix]

According to Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, “[t]his new law will help increase the numbers of women and minorities who pursue technology-based careers. While some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs are in the STEM field, the number of women and people of color employed in these fields continues to lag behind. A better understanding of the availability of grants designed to encourage underrepresented people to pursue careers in STEM is vital to help level the playing field and ensure access to well-paying and intellectually stimulating jobs.”[x]

For further information, please contact Christopher E. Vatter at cvatter@jaspanllp.com or Samantha M. Guido at sguido@jaspanllp.com.

[i] https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/01/women-making-gains-in-stem-occupations-but-still-underrepresented.html (men make up 52% of the workforce).

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/

[v] Id.

[vi] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-addressing-labor-and-healthcare-inequalities-women

[vii] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s531/amendment/b

[viii] Id.

[ix] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-addressing-labor-and-healthcare-inequalities-women

[x] Id.