State's minimum wage boost among slew of new laws for the New Year

Hourly wage earners in New York state have something to look forward to on New Year's Day.

The state's minimum wage starts the first of several increases that will boost the wage to $7.15 an hour by 2007. Also new beginning Saturday, a slight cut in personal income tax from 7.375 percent in 2004 to 7.25 percent in 2005.

Dozens of other laws will also go into effect. Children born on or after January 1 will have to be immunized for whooping cough and tetanus before they can enroll in school. And kids born between 1994 and 1997 will need to protect themselves against chickenpox by the time they reach sixth-grade.

Children over the age of 14 will need helmets if they plan to skateboard. And new legislation requires the licensing of mental health counselors.

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