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 2022 Legislative Session–Week Four*

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.

Last week, I attended meetings of the Insurance, Labor, Higher Education, and Finance committees where I voted on several important bills, including several of my own that I hope to see on the Senate floor soon:

  • S6244A Krueger — This bill allows individuals receiving unemployment benefits to keep excess payments that were mistakenly paid out by the Department of Labor, through no fault of the individual. This is an issue my office has been dealing with for months for constituents.
  • S6828A Mayer — Requires the Department of Labor to notify individuals applying for unemployment benefits if they have been approved or denied within 30 days of receiving an application.
  • S1137 Liu- Mandates that SUNY and CUNY professors make certain accommodations for students observing religious holidays
  • S849A — Another one of my bills which gives victims of workplace discrimination such as sexual harassment an extra three years to file a lawsuit in civil court.

In these committee meetings, we also voted on nominees for several important roles in the State. I had the opportunity to ask some important questions and hear the nominees’ thoughtful responses. I am proud to have voted to approve the following individuals:

  • Jeanette M. Moy, Commissioner of the Office of General Services
  • Maria Imperial, Commissioner of the Division of Human Rights

We also passed 46 bills in the Senate this week. You can see all the bills the Senate has passed so far this year here.

Budget Hearings

This week, we once again began our annual public budget hearings! As the Chair of the Budget & Revenue Committee and a new member of the Finance Committee, I have pledged to attend every budget hearing to better understand the varying needs of the state.

Workforce Development

The public hearing on Workforce Development covered many topics affecting laborers in our state. I was excited to hear from guests such as the Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Civil Service, unions, and advocacy groups on how best to support our public and private workforce during the COVID-19 recovery. I also had an opportunity to ask the Department of Labor about the enforcement of key health and safety standards at workplaces around the state.

Housing

The public hearing on Housing covered topics such as the eviction and the foreclosure crisis, construction of new affordable housing, and property taxes. The Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Habitat for Humanity, and Center for NYC Neighborhoods and more testified on key priorities facing renters and homeowners across our state.

Environmental Conservation

The public hearing on Environmental Conservation covered climate change, renewable energy, parks preservation, and air and water quality. I got to hear from witnesses such as the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Chair of the Public Service Commission on how New York is enacting its clean energy agenda under the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Human Services

The public hearing on Human Services touched on how we are supporting children, families, and seniors through the annual budget. The Commissioner of Temporary and Disability Services, Director of the Office for the Aging, and the Commissioner of Children and Family Services testified at the hearing on everything from the administration of the $2.6 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program for seniors.

Next week, we will be having public hearings on Higher Education, Health, and Local Government. You can watch all of the previous budget hearings and the upcoming ones live on the NY Senate Events page here.

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

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