Senator Andrew Gounardes
4 min readApr 6, 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 twelve 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 Twelve*

This week I joined advocates from across the state in calling for elements of the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) to be included in the final state budget this year. More than 70 groups came together to support expanding the Empire State Tax Credit to include children 0–3 years old, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to include ITIN filers (taxpayers without Social Security numbers), and the eliminating the regressive income phase-in which denies the full credit amount to the lowest-income taxpayers and negatively affects our Black, Hispanic, and immigrant families. These proposed reforms to our state’s existing tax credit would represent a significant step towards a future WFTC while helping the state meet its goal of reducing child poverty by 50% by 2032. I would like to thank the Working Families Party, Empire Justice Center, Schuyler Center, New York Immigration Coalition, and all others who stood with us to firmly declare that our final budget must include these measures.

I also rallied with New York City firefighters on my bill, S4794, which allows Tier III New York City Fire Pension Fund members to obtain credit for previous service as an emergency medical technician. This legislation corrects a discrepancy between Tier III firefighters and Tier II firefighters who are already able to purchase time for previous EMT service and have it count upfront towards their minimum years of required service.

The New York Constitution sets a budget deadline of Apr. 1. With the NYS Budget now officially overdue, the NYS Assembly and Senate have approved a budget extender to keep the government running. This enables state workers to be paid while the legislature and executive continue budget negotiations.

Committees

This week the Judiciary and Finance Committee met. Here’s a snapshot of what we did:

Judiciary

  • S2573, my bill that allows reports of employment discrimination made by a victim of such discrimination to be admitted as evidence in a civil trial, the same as can be done for cases of rape and sexual assault in criminal trials;
  • S5482, increasing the maximum age judges and justices may serve subject to passage of a constitutional amendment in relation to service by retired justices and requiring judges and justices to retire at age 76
  • S5414, Authorizes the legislature to increase the number of justices of the supreme court in any judicial district.
  • S2475A, Prohibits consideration of a law of another state that authorizes a child to be removed from their parent or guardian based on the parent or guardian allowing their child to receive gender-affirming care in custody cases. This legislation also prohibits law enforcement agencies from cooperating with or providing information to any individual or out-of-state agency or department regarding the provision of lawful gender-affirming care performed in this state.

Finance

  • S4002, is a budget bill submitted by the governor that makes appropriations for the legal requirements of the state debt service, lease purchase payments, and other special contractual obligations.

*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 support criminal justice reform as well as labor protections and benefits:

  • S14, my bill that makes the settlement of any claim against an employer by an employee or independent contractor unenforceable if as a condition of settlement, the employee or independent contractor is prohibited from applying for, accepting, or engaging in future employment with such employer or entities related to them.
  • S4266, establishes a task force on missing women and girls who are black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) to develop policy changes that will work to address the lack of care and concern for missing and murdered BIPOC women and girls with New York state governmental agencies.
  • S449, ensures one’s pre-arraignment detention does not exceed 24 hours without individualized explanations as to why such a delay in release was unavoidable and actually necessary, and requires cities with a population of over 1 million to establish and maintain a detained persons registry for authorized users.
  • S4711, establishes the payment of certain volunteer firefighter and volunteer ambulance worker death benefits shall be within ninety days of the filing of application to receive such death benefit.

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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