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State Adopts Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights

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TWC News: State Adopts Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights
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Some new state laws went into effect Tuesday, including a Bill of Rights for airline passengers and a tax break for property owners.

The state's new Airline Act was created after delays at John F. Kennedy International Airport last winter left passengers stranded on planes for more than ten hours.

Under the so-called "Passenger Bill of Rights," airlines would be required to provide food, water and clean toilets to passengers stuck on the ground for more than three hours. Airlines that fail to follow the new law could have to pay a fine of $1,000 per passenger for each violation.

"Everyone has had experience with what we're dealing with in this law," said Queens Assemblyman Michael Gianaris. "The fact that we're taking steps to at least ensure that if people are going to be stuck that they're treated like human beings and not like cargo, that's a good first step."

"Once I was going to Orlando, I sat on the tarmac for about six hours," said one traveler. "Given Orlando's a very heavy Disney World population, had a lot of kids, obviously weren't very happy. Not a lot of water, not a lot of bathroom time."

"I think that if it's going to be a long time, I think that a lot of people should be able to get off the plane if they want to," said another. "They should be able to be updated at any time as to how long the delay is going to be."

New York becomes the first state in the nation to adopt such a measure.

Governor Eliot Spitzer signed the bill into law in August. The airline industry has sued, and lost in December, but they are appealing.

For their part, supporters want this to start a nationwide movement.

"What we are hoping is that now that New York has taken a lead, other states will follow and ultimately Washington will step forward and set a standard for the whole country," said Gianaris.

Also Tuesday, a new state law kicked in to provide more than a billion dollars in tax rebates to property owners. Another law requires mortgage lenders to register with the state banking department. It comes in response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed seven bills into law Monday.

One allows the city's Department of Finance to collect outstanding water and sewer bills from delinquent home owners by allowing them to put a lien on their properties. It aims to help the city collect an estimated $600 million worth of unpaid bills.

Another new law requires those who do business with the city to disclose their political contributions. It also reduces the amount of money they give to candidates and eliminates public matching funds to those donations.

Among the other new city laws are ones tightening regulations for using explosives, another that offers prisoners free birth certificates, and a law that stiffens penalties for public lewdness. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP