Senator Andrew Gounardes
3 min readFeb 21, 2022


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 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 Six*

On Thursday, I announced the introduction of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act with a fantastic group of supporters from the National Writers Union, Freelancers Union, Freelance Solidarity Project, and many others! This Act would provide recourse to freelance workers experiencing wage theft and other violations of the labor law.


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 was our first four-day session week of the year, and we passed 48 bills on the floor.

Four of the bills related to diversity in educators:

  • S342 establishes the Underrepresented Teacher of Tomorrow: Teacher Recruitment and Retention Program to provide awards to attract and retain underrepresented teachers in underrepresented schools;
  • S1984 creates statewide and regional conventions to bring together underrepresented educators;
  • S2555a establishes a task force on educator diversity in New York State;
  • S5344 establishes the Bilingual Teachers of Tomorrow teacher recruitment and retention program.

Some other bills passed included:

  • S244A requires employees at hotels, motels, and other lodging facilities to complete a human trafficking awareness training program;
  • S3098d establishes the New York State Advisory Council on Coronavirus Economic Recovery and Workforce Development
  • S996 prohibits judges making custody decisions from 1) considering a party’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression when determining the best interest of the child; and 2) prohibiting a party from undergoing gender reassignment as a provision of that party receiving custody of a child.

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

Committee Meetings

Civil Service & Pensions

I voted to pass 4 bills through the Civil Service & Pensions Committee this week, including:

  • S5184 prohibits public employees from diminishing health insurance benefits for certain retirees;
  • S8192 prohibits reducing skilled nursing care benefits for public employees when they go on Medicare;
  • S6561 prohibits executive agencies and departments from using contractors or third parties to perform services during a hiring freeze.


I voted to pass 6 bills through the Insurance Committee this week. Some of those bills include:

  • S1413 lowers the monthly per-prescription insulin cap to $30;
  • S3577 requires a study to review the adequacy of employee protections and small business employer protection in the payroll services industry.

Higher Education

I voted to pass 4 bills through the Higher Education Committee this week. Some of those bills include:

  • S6393 requires pharmacies to substitute generic EpiPens for the brand name if it is cheaper for the patient and is approved by the physician;
  • S7916a increases the income eligibility threshold for TAP from $80,000 to $100,000.

Budget Hearings

This week, we wrapped up budget hearings for 2022 with Mental Hygiene, Transportation, Economic Development, and, most excitingly for me, Taxes.

As part of my new role as the Chair of the Budget and Revenue Committee, I opened the Taxes hearing with a discussion with Acting Commissioner/General Counsel for the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, Amanda Hiller. I had the opportunity to thank Commissioner Hiller for welcoming me to the Department when I went to visit earlier this year, and asked her about the impact of taxes on people staying in the State. We have heard concerns that people have and will continue to leave the State as a result of the changes to tax rates that we implemented last year. While she does not yet have the data from this past year, she did explain that income tax receipts from 2021 were trending higher than previous years and was anticipated. It appears, based on the information we have, that this mass exodus that some people were concerned about has not happened, and in fact the opposite is true.

Now that the budget hearings are over, the Senate will begin putting together our one-house budget proposal for this year. This time next month, we will be submitting that proposal to begin negotiations between the Senate, the Assembly, and the Executive.

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