As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, this is a perfect time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. What better place to start with than the law? There are many laws in effect that we take for granted- many of which plays a huge role in our everyday lives.
1. “Restaurant Culture” – Laws Protecting Us When We Eat Out
New Yorkers love eating at new restaurants, food fairs, or from various street vendors. That trust begins with knowing that there are laws in place which require strict adherence, with food safety inspectors on the prowl. Seeing that “A” in the window instills confidence!
2. “GASP – This has high fructose corn syrup!” – Laws Requiring Food Labels
At this day and age we are used to seeing the ingredients included in many of the items that we purchase at the grocery store. The amount of sugar, calories, and serving size are also included. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act passed in 1990 made this a requirement. Imagine what we would be consuming if food processing companies did not have to disclose any of that information!
3. “Careful- there’s a camera at that light!” Traffic Laws
Between the numerous one way streets and ‘no right on red’ NYC has some of the most stringent traffic laws in the country. When we get a ticket for speeding, it’s easy to forget how crucial those laws are in preventing absolute mayhem. New York City is the most populous city in America with over 8 million residents. Think about how many more accidents would occur if we could drive as fast as we wanted to!
4. “Click it or ticket!” – Seat belt Laws
With seat belt laws in place, along with strict enforcement and warnings, it is becoming second-nature for vehicle occupants to buckle up. Seat Belt laws not only require people to use seat belts in their personal vehicles, but also requires that taxis, liveries and some buses have functioning seat belts. Know someone who’s been in a car accident? Depending on the severity of the accident- a seat belt could’ve been the thing that saved their life.
5. “NYC is soooo expensive” – NYC & Rent Stabilization
While only 1% of buildings in NYC are rent-controlled, about 50% are rent stabilized. As the most populated city in America, beating the second in running – Los Angeles – by about 5 million residents, you can probably see why the demand in New York City is high. People understandably complain about how high the rent in NYC is, but imagine if there were no rent stabilization laws at all? Rent stabilization limits how much your landlord can raise the rent, and allows for a guaranteed right for tenants to renew their lease.
6. “Pick Up After Your Dog- It’s the Law” – Canine Waste Law
Ever accidentally step on dog poop? Definitely not a pleasant experience. Thanks to the Canine Waste Law, (commonly referred to as the Pooper Scooper Law) implemented in 1978, this doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Although it’s not the easiest to enforce, now that the law is in place social incentives still serve as deterrent. Feelings of guilt, or a hard look by a passerby usually have people thinking twice.
7. “Sorry, can’t party this weekend” – going to put in overtime!”- Labor Laws
Although there are great employers out there, most probably wouldn’t pay overtime if there wasn’t a law mandating it. Employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to pay overtime once an employee has surpassed 40 hours of work in a week.
8. “The FDA comes to the rescue again”- Laws prohibiting high levels of rat feces in your food
The FDA outlines the amount of “mammalian excreta” otherwise known as animal poop that can be found in the food we regularly consume. The FDA does not entirely forbid it since it is considered economically impractical to grow, harvest and process raw materials that are completely free of all of these defects. It is believed that these defects pose minimal health risks to consumers.
9. “Relax- go get a breath of fresh air” – Clean Air Act
Amidst taking care of daily tasks, it is can be easy to take for granted the very air that we breathe. In many places around the world, due to excessive air pollution, citizens are faced with health issues including shortened life spans due to lack of clean air. Unfortunately, the current administration is proposing amendments that can diminish the effectiveness of this act (which does place a burden on businesses that pollute, limiting their profits.)
10. “Put up the Christmas lights!” – NY’s Public Service Law
Have past due electric bills? Concerned about sitting in the dark this Thanksgiving? Well this little tidbit of information might provide you some comfort. New York State law prohibits companies from shutting off services the day before a public holiday, the day of a public holiday, and the two week period containing Christmas and New Year’s Day. In addition your utilities can only be shut off between 8am and 4pm, Monday through Thursday.