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 Five*

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, I was honored to once again sponsor a resolution, alongside Assemblymember Epstein and other state elected officials, memorializing February 10th as Students with Disability Advocacy Day in New York State. On Wednesday, 400 students with disabilities attending State Universities, City universities, and private colleges rallied to advocate for increased state funding for higher education disability services. These students are taking the initiative to fight for the equitable and quality education they rightfully deserve, and I am proud to stand beside them.

This week was a three day session week with 28 bills passed in total, including my bill, S6617, which requires employers to pay salaries through direct deposit for state employees.

Some other bills passed included:

  • S1137 mandates that SUNY and CUNY schools allow students to observe ANY religious holiday without penalty
  • S7789 establishes differential response programs for children under twelve years if acts are considered criminal. Also, this bill raises the lower age of juvenile delinquency jurisdiction from age seven to age twelve
  • S4609 removes outdated and stigmatizing language related to the definition of sexual orientation in Human Rights Law.

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

Committee Meetings

Judiciary

I voted to pass 7 bills through the Judiciary Committee this week. Some of those bills include:

  • S7278a specifies that a condo board of managers are permitted to hold virtual owner meetings.
  • S727b clarifies all police video recordings are subject to full disclosure and fall under discovery for civil and criminal cases.

Budget Hearings

This week, we had budget hearings for Higher Education, Health, and Local Government.

In the Higher Education hearing, we got to hear from representatives from SUNY, CUNY, the State Education Department and NYC Department Of Education. I had the opportunity to ask the Chancellor of CUNY about the gap between the proposed funding for CUNY in the Governor’s budget and the funding requested by the CUNY Board of Trustees. Chancellor Rodriguez was grateful for the amount of funding that the Governor proposed, but is hopeful that more funding will be allocated to allow for more full-time faculty and personnel, as well as mental health and career services.

During the Health hearing, I asked the Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, about the divestment in public health infrastructure, and how the current budget proposal can help reinvest in systems to prevent and respond to the next global pandemic. The Commissioner explained that there are lines dedicated to hiring personnel for public health positions as well as surveillance of places such as nursing homes.

Lastly, I was able to discuss resiliency in communities outside of Manhattan as related to flooding with Mayor Eric Adams during the Local Government hearing. The Mayor assured me that he is committed to sustainability and environmental conservation, and focusing on our concerns in the boroughs outside of Manhattan.

Next week, we will have hearings on Mental Hygiene, Transportation, Economic Development, and Taxes, which I will help facilitate in my new role as Chair of the Budget & Revenue Committee. You can watch all of these hearings live.

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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