A new year means new laws in New York state, including bail reform and a minimum wage increase.

New York is on the verge of a big change in its criminal justice system as a majority of arrests will result in the suspects being released without posting bail to wait for their next court date. Bail reform is one of a number of new laws taking effect in 2020.

Advocates say the move eliminates a lopsided system that allows people with money to walk free while the poor are incarcerated.  Many law enforcement officials, however, say the measure cuts frees dangerous criminals and threatens safety.  Broome County Sheriff David Harder recently produced a several-page list of suspects that would be released under bail reform.  He said there could be cases where a victim is physically threatened with a weapon and fears for their safety but the suspect would not be held.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Another measure that goes into effect in the new year would change New York’s reputation as being one of the hardest states for adoptees to find information about their biological history by easing the restrictions that had hampered people from getting access to their original birth certificates.

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New York’s minimum wage goes up again with the new year as the state works toward a $15 an hour base pay.  Meanwhile, farm workers would be guaranteed eight-hour work days, a rest day every week and time and a half overtime pay.  Those reforms have been fought by farmer’s groups who claim the additional costs could be the final nail in the coffin of many struggling family farms.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News