The start of a new legislative session means we’re back for another year of the Albany Update!

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 2021–2022 Legislative Session — Week One*

Last week was the first full week of the 2022 Legislative Session. From now through June, I’ll be laser-focused on helping New York recover from the pandemic and getting our economy back on track. You can read my top 10 legislative priorities here.

*Committee Assignments*

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced me as the new Chair of the Budget and Revenue Committee. The role was previously held by Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin. I am eager for the opportunity to take a deep dive on New York State tax policy and ensure economic fairness for working- and middle-class families across our state. After three years as the Chair of the Civil Service and Pensions committee, I remain committed to public service workers across all fields. I look forward to tackling the important issues facing our state firsthand in my new chairmanship.

I will remain on the Civil Service & Pensions committee and I have also been assigned to the Judiciary, Higher Education, Insurance, Labor, and Finance committees.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the committees and the work we will be focused on during the legislative session, please email my office.

*First Weeks of Session!*

Committee Meetings

Judiciary Committee

On January 11th we had the first meeting of the Judiciary Committee. During this meeting, I voted in favor of the following bills:

S66/Hoylman- The Adult Survivors Act, which would create a one year lookback on for the revival of otherwise time-barred civil claims arising out of sexual offenses committed against people who were 18 or older at the time of the conduct.

S766/Gounardes- My bill that would ban “No-Rehire” clauses in settlement agreements.

S849a/Gounardes- My bill would extend the statute of limitations for employee discriminations cases from three to six years.

S738/Biaggi-The bill bars settlements of harassment and discrimination claims from including any terms or conditions requiring a plaintiff to pay liquidated damages for violating a non-disclosure agreement.

You can watch the full committee meeting here.

Labor Committee

On January 10th, Senator Ramos hosted the first meeting of the Labor Committee. During the meeting I voted in favor of all the bills, except S4738 which I voted aye without recommendation. You can view the full committee here.

Consumer Protection

On Wednesday, January 12th, Senator Kevin Thomas held the first meeting of the Consumer Protection committee. This was my last time voting on this committee for this legislative session. I voted in favor of all the legislation. You can view the committee meeting and read more here.

*Legislative Session*

The New York State Senate was in session for the first time this year on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

As we do every year, we started the session voting on an election reform package. I voted in favor of all the bills, including:

S248a/Myrie- This bill would remedy a situation where a voter is disenfranchised for

inadvertently appearing to vote in the wrong polling place, but in the correct county.

S492/Hoylman- This bill would authorize local Boards of Elections to establish secure absentee ballot drop boxes, providing voters a convenient alternative option to submit their ballots.

*State of the State*

Governor Hochul unveiled her priorities for the 2022 legislative year, and there are some big changes on the table for southern Brooklyn — most notably, the proposed Interborough line which would span 14 miles from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights and offer outer borough connections across 17 subway lines. The project holds great promise to transform access for many neighborhoods that lack meaningful transit connections, and I am eager to learn more about the Governor’s plans.

I’m glad the Governor is proposing to accelerate the middle-class tax cut and I’m heartened to hear about $1 billion in property tax relief, but it is critically important that this relief reaches the tens of thousands of New York City homeowners who are bearing the brunt of a deeply broken and discriminatory property tax system that is in desperate need of reform.

The Governor’s plans to combat hate crimes and prioritize science-based approaches to crime prevention are also welcome news. We must remove guns from our communities, and invest in measures that will truly help keep our communities safe from discriminatory attacks.

After a decade of austerity budgets and hiring freezes, New York’s public workforce is beyond decimated. I hope that when the Governor releases her budget in a few weeks that she takes steps to reverse this trend and reinvests back into a robust public sector, including hazard pay and retention bonuses for public essential workers who have fought on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Although the Governor proposed ethics reform measures for elected officials, I believe there was a missed opportunity to go beyond JCOPE and term limits and propose a robust plan to make New York a leader in the fight against sexual harassment and workplace discrimination.

Finally, while I was glad to hear of the Governor’s ambitious vision for SUNY, I was deeply disappointed that CUNY was left out of that vision. Our City University is an economic engine that is the pathway to a world class higher education for hundreds of thousands of working- and middle-class New Yorkers, if only we are willing to invest in it. I remain committed to fighting for the New Deal that CUNY deserves.

I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues this legislative year as we work collaboratively on building an affordable, livable and resilient State.

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

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NYS Senator, District 22.

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Senator Andrew Gounardes

Senator Andrew Gounardes

NYS Senator, District 22.

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