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

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.

*Session Week 12*

This past week we celebrated the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. As a proud 4th-generation Greek-American, I was excited to join with my fellow Greek-American colleagues in sponsoring a resolution proclaiming March 2021 as Greek History Month in New York State. We also hosted a state-wide Greek Independence Day Celebration, and downtown Albany was beautifully lit with the colors of the Greek flag.

Committee Meetings

Civil Service and Pensions

I convened our fourth Civil Service and Pensions Committee meeting of this session. Bills reported out of the committee included:

  • S4897, which allows the Triborough bridge and Tunnel Authority Superior Officer Benevolent Association to use binding arbitration to resolve disputes.
  • S4961 allows certain employees who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations to be eligible for certain benefits if they hadn’t joined a retirement system at the time of the cleanup.
  • S1754 allows all NYSTRS retirees to change their retirement plan beneficiary to a spouse at any time before or after retirement.
  • S3099 allows retired police officers to earn up to $65,000 working as school resource officers without a diminution of their pension benefits.
  • S5096 allows public employees to transfer their own sick time to other employees.

Judiciary

I voted to pass 7 bills through the Judiciary Committee last week.

  • S738 which bans liquidated damages related to sexual harassment or other unlawful discriminations. I co-sponsor this legislation.
  • S719 waives the biennial attorney registration fee for attorneys who meet the federal public service loan forgiveness program qualifications.
  • S720 allows disqualification of a surviving spouse for purposes of estates post-death in certain circumstances.
  • S3666 prohibits landlords from requiring “unreasonable” fees for making copies of keys.
  • S4248 requires the court to consider the best interest of a pet when awarding possession in a case of separation.

Session

Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter. This week we passed 34 bills including:

Nursing Homes

  • S5177 allows the state to hold health care facilities, administrators, and executive accountable for harm and damages incurred within facilities
  • S4377 requires the translation of nursing home patient rights into certain languages and makes information on the ombudsman program accessible.

Environment

  • I am a cosponsor on S4866 which increases penalties relating to endangered and special species.
  • S355 prohibits waste water from hydrofracking which may contain harmful contaminants from being used in highway construction.
  • S4092 increases rebates to municipalities for the costs of eligible projects which support the development of clean vehicles.
  • S4371B establishes and enforces standards for the emissions of toxic air contaminants.

Insurance

I cosponsored 3 major bills in an effort to make insurance accessible:

  • S1413 reduces the cap on cost sharing for insulin to $30 per insulin a month.
  • S3483 expands eligibility for the elderly pharmaceutical insurance coverage program (EPIC).
  • S2008 requires medical insurance notices to explicitly state whether a claim or bill has been partially approved or entirely denied.

Other Noteworthy Bills

  • I also cosponsored S5162A which requires local social services districts to offer to pay childcare providers via direct deposit.
  • S2998A makes certain peer advocates eligible for reimbursement.
  • S3866 requires airports to provide private lactation spaces.
  • S3974 helps school districts purchase local agricultural products for their food services.
  • S4201A prohibits employers from penalizing employees for any absences related to COVID-19.

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

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

NYS Senator, District 22.