As part of my community engagement platform, I promised to provide a regular weekly update on what’s happening up in Albany. This is now our third update and I’m continuing to fine tune exactly how best to present this information to you without over-sharing. Of course, I’m happy to delve into more detail about specific bills or other issues, if you’re interested.

You can always email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov if you have any questions, ideas, or want more information about what’s happening in Albany or the District. I’ll always try my best to follow up with any comments posted below, but the best and most direct way to contact me is via email.

*Special Note about Property Taxes*

Many of you have written to me or commented on Facebook and Twitter about our soaring property taxes. I hear you loud and clear, and I think its obscene that some neighborhoods where home values are significantly higher than ours paying significantly less in property taxes! There needs to be wholesale reform of the NYC property tax system, and its something I am looking into. There is no easy, quick fix, but please know that I am talking to my colleagues and hope to come back to you soon with progress to show for my efforts. We didn’t get into this problem overnight — this is the result of years and years of inaction by previous leaders — but this will be one of my top priorities moving forward.

*Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming*

This was the third full week of the legislative session, and we were in session for two days. To see the full schedule of the legislation session, click here: https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/2019_new_york_state_legislative_session_calendar.pdf

For the third week in a row, the New York State Legislature continued its momentum and passed a groundbreaking series of bills. On both Monday and Tuesday, we passed a number of bills dealing with common sense gun reform and progressive judicial reform. For years, these vital protections were passed by the State Assembly, only to be blocked from even being brought up for debate and a vote in the State Senate.

Adding to the progress made this week, I had my second bill unanimously pass the State Senate! The bill (s2042) focuses on ensuring that supervisory personnel in the emergency medical service are the most qualified to serve in those positions. You can read that bill here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/s2042

*State Budget Process*

This week, we started holding joint legislative budget hearings on the Governor’s proposed budget.

Every year, the Governor proposes an Executive Budget in January, which becomes the basis of the negotiations and deliberations between the executive and legislative branches. The final budget is due to be approved by the legislature by March 31st of each year, because the state’s fiscal year begins on April 1st.

You can read a copy of the Governor’s proposed budget here: https://openbudget.ny.gov/ But remember, this version of the budget won’t be the final version.

As part of the budget process, the legislature conducts hearings on specific subject matters where state agency officials, budget experts, and outside advocates all testify about the Governor’s proposed budget and any changes they think the legislature should make.

(I am in the process of scheduling a community event to explain the state budget and give local residents an opportunity to give me feedback on what they want to see in the budget. Stay tuned!)

This week, I attended two budget hearings: Higher Education and Transportation. Click here to watch video footage of my questions from these hearings. (Higher Education) (Transportation)

*Committee Meetings This Week*

Two of my committees met this week: Codes and Judiciary.

On Monday, the Codes Committee considered eight incredibly important pieces of legislation that I have been fighting for and that would protect New Yorkers by reinventing safe standards for the sale, operation, ownership and storage of firearms, shotguns and rifles. It would also protect New Yorkers by adding criminal penalty to the unauthorized sharing of intimate images. I voted for all eight of them in the committee meeting:

· S101A — to prevent schools from allowing teachers, administrators and other educational staff from bringing any type of firearm on school property, with the exception of police officers and school resource officers.

· S1414 — to update the legal definition of firearm possession to include undetectable firearms, shotguns and rifles and to outlaw the possession, sale or distribution of such weapons.

· S1719A — to make the act of sharing an intimate image by means of publication or dissemination without the consent of the the person in the image, a criminally punishable offense. The bill also establishes a private right of action for the unlawful publication or dissemination of such images. This bill would make it a crime to distribute “revenge porn”.

· S2374 — to extend the period of time for the completion of a National Instant Background Check to 30 days when the sale of a firearm, shotgun or rifle is pending.

· S2438 — to allow for the access of mental health records in a foreign state of an individual applying for a firearms license in New York.

· S2448 — to outlaw the possession, sale and distribution of rapid-fire modification devices (aka “bump stocks”).

· S2449 — to create and implement a municipal gun buyback program to be administered by the Division of State Police.

· S2450 — to outlaw the unsafe storage of firearms, shotguns and rifles and to require a detailed notice of New York State law regarding firearm, shotgun and rifle storage to be given to any purchaser of such weapons in New York State.

On Tuesday, the Judiciary committee considered six pieces of legislation to modernize our judicial processes and protect the rights of New Yorkers to exercise or participate in a fair, legal process. I voted to support these bills in committee:

· S221 — to restore the right to serve on a jury for convicted felons who have completed their sentence.

· S300 — an amendment to New York’s estates, powers and trusts law and the surrogate’s court procedure act to apply marriage equality in the technical language used in such laws.

· S429 — to prohibits contracts for the purchase or lease of consumer goods from restricting what court you can file a claim against the seller or manufacturer of those goods.

· S1832 — to raise the civil jurisdiction limit from $5,000 to $10,000 for cases in Civil Claims Court.

·S2440 — also known as The Child Victims Act, to provide more time for a victim of sexual abuse to pursue criminal charges against their abuser when they become a legal adult. Instead of limiting the statute of limitations to up to 5 years after a child turns 18, it eliminates the statute of limitations for all child sex offense crimes, and allows past children victims to file a criminal charge up until they are 55 years old. The bill also creates a one-year look back window for any victim who was previously barred from filing a claim because the statute of limitations had expired to file a claim now. Lastly, contrary to some misinformation, this bill does not single out private institutions and shield public ones. All institutions are treated the same.

· S2451 — also known as the Red Flag Law, prevents individuals from accessing firearms, shotguns and rifles who have been the recipient of a judicial extreme risk protection order, which classifies the individual as likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others.

*Day by Day*

<Monday>

On Monday, my Democratic colleagues in the State Senate and I once more kept our promise to work for those who have been neglected and ignored for years. The Child Victims Act, in particular was a remarkable milestone for our State and I am so proud to have cosponsored a bill that provides an influential voice to those who have been voiceless for too long. The following bills were passed by the Senate:

· S839 — expands the number of YouthBuild programs in the State. It will provide work training programs to at-risk youth.

· S2041 — requires the MTA board to provide at least 45 days public notice prior to certain transportation facility closures to local elected officials and community boards.

· S2044 —allows the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Conservation, to make information about vegetation management available to entities desiring to operate in a pollinator friendly manner.

· S2523 — provides an extension for payment of real property taxes by furloughed or designated non-pay federal employees who were victims of the recent federal government shutdown.

· S2440 — Enacts The Child Victims Act which increases the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse as a minor to make claims against their abuser both criminally and civilly. It also establishes a one-year window, starting six months from the effective date of the bill, for past victims of child sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits against their abusers and the public and private institutions that let the abuse happen.

<Tuesday>

On Tuesday, we passed a package of common sense gun legislation for New Yorkers. These reforms will help keep guns away from dangerous individuals, reduce violence, and make our New York communities safer. These bills go a long way to prevent unnecessary losses of life and provides relief to countless New York families. The following bills were passed by the Senate:

· S101A — prevents schools from allowing teachers, administrators, and other educational staff from bringing any type of firearm on school property, with the exception of police officers and school resource officers.

· S2374 — extends the period of time for the completion of a National Instant Background Check to 30 days when the sale of a firearm, shotgun or rifle is pending.

· S2438 — allows for the access of mental health records in a foreign state of an individual applying for a firearms license in New York.

· S2448 — outlaws the possession, sale and distribution of rapid-fire modification devices (aka “bump stocks”).

· S2449 — creates and implements a municipal gun buyback program to be administered by the Division of State Police.

· S2451 — Enacts the Red Flag Law preventing individuals from accessing firearms, shotguns and rifles if they have been the recipient of a judicial extreme risk protection order, which classifies the individual as likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others.

The Senate also took up and passed S.1891A, S.712, S.720 S.721, and S.959 that amend local tax laws outside of New York City.

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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