The new year brings a few new laws into effect in New Jersey.

Six laws kick in at the start of 2017, as well as the beginning of cuts in the sales tax, the estate tax and income taxes paid by retirees that were approved as part of the bargain that increased the gas tax by almost 23 cents a gallon.

What it is: Requires drivers to slow down before passing slow-moving vehicles; establishes statewide educational campaign on rural roadway safety; updates agriculture-related motor vehicle laws to reflect current industry practices. (A3927/S2820)

How it affects you: This will alter some of the rules of the road for those who drive in rural areas or operate agriculture equipment on the roads. Vans and sport utility vehicles begin to qualify for farmer license plates. Farm vehicles can travel on public highways at least 50 miles. They can be on the roads more hours, if escorted by a vehicle with proper safety lighting. And drivers who want to pass a vehicle with a "slow-moving vehicle" emblem can be fined $100 to $500 if they don’t first slow to the speed of that vehicle.

What it is: Directs New Jersey Turnpike Authority and South Jersey Transportation Authority to study and report on potential revenue generating services of rest areas and service plazas. (A801/S861)

How it affects you: New Jersey’s toll roads will have a year to study ways of making additional money through better services at rest areas and welcome centers on the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway, as well as squeezing more cash out of billboards, other ads and cell-phone towers. Every dollar generated those ways is a little less pressure on tolls.

What it is: Establishes requirements for training programs for homemaker-home health aides in care of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. (S2960/A4331)

How it affects you: The Alzheimer’s Association says around 170,000 people in New Jersey age 65 or older have the degenerative brain disease that’s the most common cause of dementia, and it’s expected to grow to 210,000 by 2025. It contributed to around 1,800 deaths in 2013. This law requires that all home health aides receive training about patient needs and safety precautions.

What it is: Requires earlier mandatory polling hours for school elections; requires discretionary additional polling hours be consistent with current primary and general elections. (S2453/A3805)

How it affects you: It doesn’t, unless you live in one of the 18 school districts that still holds elections in April. Most have moved their elections to November. State law currently requires polls to be open for school elections from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This would shift that to 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Districts could also choose longer hours – starting as early as 7 a.m. and ending as late as 9 p.m.

What it is: Requires state Department of Human Services to monitor utilization and billing of services for Medicaid home and community-based long-term care. (A4169/S2752)

How it affects you: Part of a package of bills, along with the one listed below and one that took effect last November, intended to improve community-based senior programs to help elderly residents avoid being places in institutions unnecessarily. The state will have to do a monthly comparison between the number of encounters people in long-term care programs have with a managed-care organization and the services authorized for those individuals.

What it is: Requires providers to submit to DHS expenditure details of enrollees in Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. (A4168/S2750)

How it affects you: Also part of the bill package aimed at improving long-term and community-based care for the elderly. Each month, providers of Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and pre-PACE programs must submit expenditure details of enrollee encounters with the program. The state will use those details to analyze rates and assess the efficiency of the programs.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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