As part of my community engagement platform, I promised to provide a regular weekly update on what’s happening up in Albany.

You can always email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov if you have any other questions, ideas, or want more information about what’s happening in Albany or the district.

*The 2022 Legislative Session–Week Eight*

Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter.

*Last week, the Senate had a break in sessions therefore no new bills were passed and no committee meetings were held. However, I am excited to return back to the normal routine of providing a current update of events within Albany.*

This week was a three-day session week, and 44 bills were passed. You can see all the bills the Senate has passed so far this year here.

On Tuesday, March 1st, the Senate Democratic Majority advanced legislation to strengthen New York’s sexual harrassment protections at the workplace. This legislation guarantees all employees in both the public and private sectors to be fairly treated and have the necessary resources available to seek accountability. I am pleased to announce four of my bills were passed, aiding in the fight to dismantle the harassment protection machine in the workplaces.

  • S766 — My “No Rehire Ban” bans “no-rehire” clauses in settlement contracts between employers and employees. This protects employees/contractors who have filed a claim against their employer from being “blacklisted” by companies for speaking out.
  • S849A — My “Extended Statute of Limitations for Harassment” bill extends the statute of limitations for filing suits related to harassment and employment discrimination to six years.
  • S5870 — My “ Recourse to Victims of Unlawful Retaliation” bill prohibits employers from retaliating by releasing confidential employee records. This ensures employees can speak up without the threat unlawful discriminatory practices by employers.
  • S738 — The “Let Survivors Speak Act” is a bill I co-sponsored prohibits settlements or resolutions of a claim involving sexual harrasment from the plantiff to pay the defendant liquidated damages in the event that the plaintiff violates a non-disclosure act.

Other bills passed within the week included:

  • S2925 imposes penalties for bus companies that fail to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles when they employ a bus driver with felony conviction related to use of a motor vehicle.
  • S4450 requires the display of a bus driver’s credentials prominently while they are on duty and changes the review of their files by the department from every three years to annually.

Committee Meetings

This week I attended three committee meetings: Judiciary, Labor, and Finance.

Judiciary

I voted to pass several bills through the Judiciary Committee this week. Some of those bills included:

  • S8081 allows a person who is wrongfully convicted and unconstitutionally tried to sue the state.
  • S8243 requires the judges of larger town and village courts to be licensed attorneys.

Labor

I voted to pass six bills through the Labor Committee this week. Some of those bills included:

  • S1025 relates to the overpayment of wages. This bill clarifies that deductions can not be made from employee accounts if such deductions do not constitute overpayment or are dispersed at an improper time.
  • S5734A requires a multi-agency to study the issues impacting the continuum of caregiving in the state of New York.

Finance

  • S205 creates the New York State Innovation Voucher Program to enable small businesses to acquire expertise from colleges, universities, and research organizations.
  • S549b codifies the NYS Council on Food Policy, a group of 13 members with experience in agriculture, nutiontion, food insecurity, and food policy developing comprehensive food policies.
  • S1411b extends Medicaid coverage for pregnant women from 60 days post-pregnancy to one year.

*The 2022 Legislative Session–Week Nine*

Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter.

I’m excited to announce that this week I introduced the Fair College Admissions Act (S8498), which bans the admissions practices of Legacy Preference and Early Decision. These practices, by nature, exclude first generation as well as lower- and middle-class and minority students. This bill would allow fair access to higher education to all students, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

This week was a four-day session week. We passed 36 bills, including:

  • S2976A provides discharged patients with opioid overdose education and opioid antagonists for take home use.
  • S1187A prohibits the imposition of different premium rates for disability insurance based on gender.
  • S5063 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on such individual’s status as a caregiver.
  • S3083 establishes an LGBT youth and young adult suicide prevention task force.
  • S3974 allows school districts to favor locally sourced goods and integrate a variety of local agricultural products into their food services.
  • S2013 disallows the imposition of any surcharge for the installation or use of a tenant-installed appliance.
  • S5720 designates March 13 of each year as “K9 Veterans Day” in the State of New York.

You can see all the remaining bills the Senate has passed so far this year here.

Committee Meetings

I am excited to announce this week I held the first Budget and Revenue committee meeting in my new role as Chair. I put ten bills on the agenda, all of which passed the committee. Some of these bills included:

  • S1131 amends the threshold of resident individuals required to file New York state income tax returns.
  • S1333 allows the online revenues and expenditures transparency act to provide for the development of a singular, free, and accessible budget database to the public.
  • S6061 increases the amount of tuition expenses that can be claimed for the tuition tax credit from the first $10,000 to the first $20,000 of college tuition expenses.
  • S7378A requires the department of health to publish specific reports on its website concerning the sale of opioids sold in New York state.

The remainder of the bills passed within this meeting could be found here: Budget and Revenue Meeting | NY State Senate

Alongside the Budget and Revenue committee meeting, I sat on the committees of Insurance and Finance where I voted on several important bills.

Insurance

I voted to pass four bills through the Insurance Committee this week. These bills were:

  • S3579A streamlines the licensing of independent insurance adjusters by waiving the requirement for each individual applicant to obtain a written examination so long as the applicant holds a claims certification issued by a national or state-based claims association.
  • S7744 distinguishes between purchasers of dividend paying annuities and purchasers of annuities that do not pay dividends. This helps ensure that New York consumers have access to a full array of annuity products.
  • S8315A prevents insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners on a homeowners’ insurance policy based on the breed of dog that they own.

Finance

In the Finance Committee this week, we voted on the Governor’s nomination of Daniel W. Tietz for the position of Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). ODTA is responsible for supervising programs that provide economically disadvantaged support to families and individuals to help New Yorkers meet their essential needs and ensure their economic opportunities are available to them.

I asked Daniel about the number of applicants for the Emergency Rental Application Program, and how the funding to be dispersed since many people have been wanting months for disbursements. He was able to provide me with OTDA’s plan to ensure everyone who is eligible for aid receives it.

I extended my strongest support for this nomination both in Committee and on the floor, having known Daniel for nearly a decade. I have full trust that he will be a phenomenal commissioner.

Thanks for reading! As always, you can email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov or call my office as 718–238–6044.

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