Senator Andrew Gounardes
4 min readMar 7, 2023

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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 eight(nine?) of the 2023 session.

As always, you can 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 Eight*

Committees

This week three of my committees met: Judiciary, Labor, and Budget & Revenue, which I chair. Here’s a snapshot of what we did:

Judiciary

  • S2997, provides that an affirmation of a health care practitioner may be served or filed in an action in lieu of and with the same force and effect as an affidavit.
  • S2088, makes rent stabilized dwelling units eligible for certain protections. This bill updates New York’s General Obligation Laws to include the protections afforded for tenants with security deposits under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019 for Rent Stabilized tenants.
  • S3340, relates to the reporting of extreme risk protection orders. This bill requires extreme risk protection orders to be reported to the statewide computerized registry of orders of protection and certain warrants of arrest.

Labor

  • S346, my bill which requires new employees be provided certain information relating to student loan repayment information. Under this bill, newly hired employees must be provided with a notice detailing student loan repayment options that may be available to borrowers.
  • S1027A, my bill which provides that an employee shall not be required to request reinstatement in order to file a discrimination claim regarding paid family medical leave benefits. This bill also provides for attorneys’ fees and costs as a remedy should a court deem it appropriate.
  • S2924, establishes the Marshall plan for moms interagency task force. This taskforce will examine, issue proposals, and make recommendations on multiple policy areas to address the disproportionate burden mothers have weathered from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget and Revenue

Lastly, the Budget & Revenue Committee held its second meeting of the 2023 legislative session. I am pleased to have passed two of my bills through committee this week, S277A and S477A, which aim to provide much needed relief to working families across the state.

  • S277A, my bill that creates a working families tax credit. This bill creates a tax credit of $1500 per child, directs quarterly prepayment of the credit, and provides for a sliding reduction in the credit for incomes which exceed a certain threshold with a minimum of $500.
  • S4744A, my bill relating to the exemption of school supplies from sales tax during a specified period each year. Under this bill,basic school supplies will be exempt from sales tax during the 15 day period prior to Labor day.
  • S3387, enacts the online revenues and expenditures transparency act. This act would provide for the development of a single, searchable budget database website accessible to the public, at no cost.

*Budget Hearings*

The Senate and Assembly continued holding joint legislative hearings on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023–24 Executive Budget. These hearings focus on a programmatic area of the Executive Budget and are intended to provide the appropriate legislative committees with public input. The hearings were (and will be) available for viewing on the Senate and Assembly websites. This week we held joint legislative budget hearings on Higher Education, Health, and Workforce Development.

During the Higher Education budget hearing, I expressed concerns around the proposed tuition increases which are asking students to pay more for what should be a free, quality public higher education. Increased CUNY funding is a top priority of mine as the sponsor of S2146, the New Deal for CUNY. I engaged with CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez on the funding disparities seen in CUNY’s allocation compared to SUNY’s, making up just 35% of what the budget proposes for higher education. With a $94 million allocation in new operating money, far lower than CUNY’s $303 million ask, I asked Chancellor Rodriguez how this would impact CUNY operations; he expressed a need for capital dollars to invest in research labs as well as improved enrollment and retention techniques.

Further into the hearing I asked Lola W. Brabham, President of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), about steps being taken in response to the possible elimination of race as a factor in college admissions by a majority-conservative Supreme Court. New York has many prestigious institutions that employ exclusionary practices like legacy preference and early decision which is why I’ve introduced bill S4170, the Fair College Admissions Act. While President Brabham affirms these practices are not used as primary factors in admissions, the diversity and equity sought in private institutions across New York are in jeopardy pending the Supreme Court’s decisions and the response of colleges and universities across our state.

*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 the Senate passed important legislation to protect maternal health and support reproductive care:

  • S1867, requires the Department of Health to establish and maintain the New York state community doula directory to promote the use of doula services by Medicaid recipients and reimbursement for doula services in the Medicaid program. It also establishes criteria for admittance into the New York state community doula directory.
  • S201, bars a plan or contract from imposing a fee or other penalty for a pregnant individual enrolling during a special enrollment period.
  • S3609A, enhances the scope of health equity impact assessments to require consideration of the impact a project will have on the availability and provision of reproductive health services and maternal health care.

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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