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 Ten.

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.

*My first major bill passed!*

Tuesday, March 19th was a day for the history books. After years fighting to increase pedestrian safety on our streets, the Senate passed my bill to substantially expand New York City’s school zone speed camera program. Previously, only 140 cameras were allowed to operate out of 1800+ schools. If you remember the news from last summer, the Senate allowed the program to expire without renewing it. My bill allows the city to place speed cameras in up to 750 school zones. Under my bill, cameras will now be operational in locations and time periods that account for just under 50% of all pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries, an increase from 15% under the old program.

Speed cameras have proven to reduce speeding by up to 63% in locations where they are operational. We know that speed is determinant of the severity of an injury received in a crash. When you slow people down, lives are saved. Period.

You can read more about the bill and its details here and you can read the bill text here.

Last Week in Albany

The week of March 18th to March 22nd was the tenth week of legislative activity and we were in session for three days. To see the full schedule of the legislation session, click here.

State Budget Process

Last week, the State Senate continued to negotiate with the State Assembly and the Governor on the final budget, which is due April 1st. Two weeks ago the Senate passed its own budget resolution, which outlines the priorities we want to included in the final budget.

I remain committed to the principles that I voted for in the Senate one-house budget resolution, including restoring cuts made to Medicaid in the Governor’s budget proposal, ensuring mass transit accessibility and accountability, equitable education funding, and election reform, and will continue to push for these core values as negotiations continue.

Committee Meetings This Week

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, March 19th. The committee considered five pieces of legislation, all of which I supported; I am also a co-sponsor of S1688, which helps regulate distressed home loans. You can watch the full video and read more information about the committee meeting here.

Civil Service and Pensions

I chaired my fourth Civil Service and Pensions committee meeting on Tuesday, March 19th. You can watch the committee meeting in its entirety here.

During this committee meeting, we considered five pieces of legislation that help support public sector employees, their families and retirees. I sponsored bills two bills and voted to support all of the bills in committee.

  • S3378 by Senator Gounardes — establishes reasonable standards of labor, rest, meal breaks, and pay during the performance of duties by EMTs of the New York City Fire Department.
  • S4134 by Senator Skoufis — authorizes retired firefighters to be employed as fire science instructors by career and technical education centers without reduction of their retirement benefits.
  • S4153 by Senator Parker — ensures language assistance services by state agencies; requires state agencies to maintain records of the primary language spoken by any individual seeking such assistance.
  • S3854 by Senator Lanza — prohibits public employers from diminishing the health benefits and contributions of retired public employees
  • S4308 by Senator Gounardes — removes earning restrictions on retired uniformed servicemembers who seek employment as criminal justice faculty members at community colleges

Legislative Session

We had three days of legislative session last week, and passed a total of twenty- four bills. Below are some of the highlights:

<Monday>

  • S4211 — clarifies that lactation is protected in the workplace as a pregnancy-condition.
  • S588 — prevents children from being interviewed by Child Protective Services workers in the presence of the person who is the subject of the report.
  • S3339A — enacts “Vincent Scheppa’s law,” providing a mechanism for a Medicaid recipient authorized to receive in-home private nursing services to receive these services from a relative who is a registered professional nurse.
  • S4004 — requires agencies to provide potential adoptive parents with information concerning state-funded benefits or services available once the foster child is adopted as well as those that expire upon adoption.

<Tuesday>

  • S231 — establishes a school zone speed camera demonstration program in the city of Buffalo modeled on the successful New York City program.
  • S4331 — expands the photo speed violation monitoring system program for school speed zones in the city of New York.
  • S55 — ensures that the State Liquor Authority maintain on its website public information regarding the method of operations of establishments under its jurisdiction.

<Wednesday>

  • S1819 — establishes state and New York city maternal mortality review boards and the maternal mortality and morbidity advisory council to provide a deeper understanding of the causes and circumstances surrounding maternal death.
  • S1978A — establishes the legislative task force on responsible gaming to develop policies and procedures that foster responsible gaming practices by gaming facilities in New York.

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