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 seventeen.

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 17*

Committee Meetings

This was an exciting and busy week, as I had meetings for five of the six committees I am a member of!

Insurance

In the Insurance committee we passed 4 bills including:

  • S5581 which prevents small employers such as school districts from being forced out of cost-saving Health Insurance Consortia.
  • S5760 creates “catastrophic business disruption insurance” which is a new type of disability-related business insurance.

Consumer Protection

In the Consumer Protection committee we passed 5 bills including:

  • S133 provides a grace period for collecting reward points on a credit card after closing an account.
  • S1383 requires new private one- and two-family homeowners to be provided with a cost estimate for a fire sprinkler system.
  • S6108A requires the Department of Financial Services to provide a comprehensive list of all COVID-19 related programs and resources implemented at the state level on a single webpage.

Cities 1

In the Cities 1 committee we passed 6 bills including one of my own:

  • My bill, S5728A removes the ability for future beneficiaries of NYC Teachers Retirement System members to indefinitely defer distributions from tax-deferred annuity (TDA) accounts
  • S641 makes public utility companies responsible for repair and replacement of residential lateral sewer and water pipes they have damaged rather than homeowners.
  • S1548 exempts certain small businesses in Manhattan from the City’s Commercial Rent Tax during the COVID-19 state disaster emergency.
  • S5536 requires NYC agencies to establish a telecommuting policy.

Labor

In the Labor committee we passed 7 bills including:

  • S6244A Stops the Department of Labor from collecting overpaid unemployment benefits from claimants who were unaware they were being overpaid.
  • S975 allows high school students to collect unemployment insurance.
  • S6196 allows the NYS Insurance Fund to provide workers compensation benefits for out-of-state work.

Judiciary

In the Judiciary committee we passed 5 bills including 1 of my own.

  • I wanted to follow up my Resolution from last week recognizing the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the NYS Constitution with a bill commemorating April 20th as NYS Constitution Day. My bill S6193A does just this, and passed through the committee this week.
  • S700 repeals the section of law that states that attorneys must reside or have an office in the state to practice in the state.
  • S997 forbids venue limitations in contracts for the adjudication or arbitration of disputes related to consumer goods.

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 3 resolutions repealing some of the Executive Orders passed by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am hopeful that repealing these orders will help our neighborhoods, and especially our small businesses, begin to build back up.

  • B673 terminates the exemption of governing the activities of public officers for the purpose of hiring volunteers by the state.
  • B674 terminates the need for the purchase of food items to be accompanied for any purchase of an alcoholic beverage.
  • B675 terminates the demand for vaccines to be administered within one week of receipt of facilities or else face penalties and the requirement to verify vaccine eligibility by priority groups.

We also passed 42 bills, including two of my own, some of which are highlighted below:

  • My bill S859A requires employers to provide newly hired employees with information on student loan repayment options available to borrowers. My other bill passed, S6065, extends the ability for unions or public employers to petition the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) for injunctive relief during collective bargaining.

Access to Information

  • S113 directs the secretary of the state to provide information such as local SBDC contact information, Empire State Development and business mentor NY to new businesses.
  • S5490A requires the Department of Labor to notify individuals receiving unemployment benefits of rental, mortgage, food, and utility assistance programs.
  • S3946 provides employers with the opportunity to register for emergency alerts from the state of New York public safety alert mass notification system

The Environment

  • S2838A requires that by December 31, 2021 state purchased or leased vehicles to be used in state-owned vehicle fleets to be zero emission vehicles.
  • S6191 combats the biodiversity and climate crisis by making it policy of the state to support and contribute to national efforts to conserve at least 30% of the land by 2030.
  • S4095B prohibits the use and sale of pavement products which contain coal tar which is toxic to the environment.
  • S1421 prohibits the lease of state forests, wildlife management and unique areas for the purpose of gas production.

Other Noteworthy Bills

  • S2211 prohibits double-bunked housing in correctional facilities.
  • S6204 requires residential health care facilities to document the reason for an individual requesting a voluntary transfer or discharge.

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.