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 twenty-two.

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 22*

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.

As we near the end of the 2021 Session, we are continuing to work hard for our constituents. This week, we passed 268 bills, including eight of my own. I’ve highlighted them below:

  • S5870 clarifies that leaking an employee’s personnel records for complaining about discrimination in the workplace or cooperating with an investigation into such discriminatoin is illegal retaliation under the Human Rights Law.
  • S6619A aligns the age at which ordinary death benefits start to be reduced for New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) still in active service with full retirement age.
  • S6972 creates a presumption that New York City Transit workers who develop lung disease did so as a result of performance of duty, qualifying them for an accidental disability retirement.
  • S6618 provides a ten per centum death benefit for those who die upon the completion of the third year of retirement in cases when a member joins a New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) after age 60.
  • S6512 establishes a cap on the amount Tier 6 members joining the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System on or after July 1, 2022 may borrow against retirement contributions.
  • S6079 provides a gender-neutral marker option for individuals in the welfare management system.
  • S4440 increases the in-service death benefit for Nassau County correction officers in Tiers 3 through 6 of the New York State and Local Retirement System to be the value of the pension reserve (assuming single life allowance) as if the member had retired on the date of their death.

Gun Violence Prevention

As we‘ve seen cases of gun violence surge across New York City in the recent past, it’s imperative that we take measures to address this growing threat by passing common-sense legislation to prevent tragedy and save lives. These bills will impose accountability on the sale of firearms, establish research methods to generate solutions to this problem, and restrict purchases for those with warrants. This package is a strong step forward in taking measures to restrict putting guns in the hands of the wrong people, create transparency in the release of data, and bolster our current laws to help end this epidemic and break the cycle of suffering in our city.

  • S687 updates the definition of “imitation weapon” to be consistent with New York City Administrative Code and combat the harm incurred by realistic toy guns.
  • I co-sponsored S1251, which requires the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to release quarterly reports regarding gun violence data. This measure seeks to track whether guns obtained and used in criminal acts were acquired in states with weaker gun laws than New York’s.
  • S2981 establishes a Center for Firearm Violence Research to better understand the causes and manifestations of gun violence, as well as generate data-driven solutions.
  • S5000B makes it illegal for one to purchase a firearm while knowing there is an active warrant out for one’s arrest. It would also prohibit the gifting and selling of firearms to an individual if the provider knows that the recipient has an outstanding warrant.
  • I co-sponsored S14A, which enacts the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act to prohibit the possession of a ghost gun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith, and prohibit their sale entirely. Additionally, any gunsmith would be required to serialize and register all weapons in their possession.
  • I also co-sponsored S13A, which amends the penal law of the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, named for the individual who sacrificed his life in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. This act would allow the sale of unfinished receivers to be prosecuted in the first and second degree.
  • S1235 would enact a ten day waiting period for the purchase of all firearms, and would charge any violation as a class A misdemeanor.

Mental Health

  • S1765A requires information related to staffing levels and service needs at facilities operated by the Office of Mental Health (OMR), the Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS), and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to be published.
  • S2877 establishes a Latina suicide prevention task force to evaluate and determine how to improve mental health and suicide prevention amongst Latina New York residents.
  • S6575 makes care and services provided by licensed mental health practitioners eligible for coverage under the Medicaid program and S6576 does the same for clinical social workers.

Other Noteworthy Bills

  • I co-sponsored, S4807A expands the immunizations that licensed pharmacists are authorized to administer including the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • I also co-sponsored S5419 would allow for an increase in rent subsidies for families with a lack of adequate housing that may cause entry of children into foster care, or prevent reunification.
  • S6572 will provide feminine hygiene products at no cost to adults and children in shelters throughout New York State.
  • S63A creates an allowance for eligible parents to receive a quarterly allowance to assist in the purchasing of diapers for their children two years and under.

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

Thanks for reading! We have one more week of Session. During these last days, I will continue to push for as much positive change for our neighborhoods as possible before we break for the year. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov or call my office at 718–238–6044.

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