Senator Andrew Gounardes
6 min readMay 22, 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 seventeen 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 Seventeen*

This week my bill S6301 passed the Energy and Telecommunications committee. This bill, a component of my last mile trucking reform legislative package, requires certain distribution centers that are 50,000 sq. ft. or more to be equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. In 2019, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was passed committing New York to a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040. Due to a surge in demand for overnight deliveries, freight traffic in New York City is expected to grow 67% between 2012 and 2045 generating millions in additional CO2 emissions. “Last mile warehouses,” or the place packages are stored before the last mile of their journey from warehouse to a customer, are disproportionately placed in communities already bearing more than their fair share of air pollution. These warehouses are fundamentally different from traditional storage facilities as they operate 24/7, span multiple stories, and attract a significantly higher volume of trucks that are bigger in size and more polluting. My bill S6301 ensures that new or altered warehouses have electric vehicle charging infrastructure for their trucks and assists the trucking industry in moving away from fossil fuels while meeting the carbon neutrality goals of the CLCPA.

Later in the week, I had the honor of presenting the District 26 Women of Distinction award to Tiffiney Davis, the Executive Director at Red Hook Art Project (RHAP). In her position, Ms. Davis displays an avid commitment to the success of RHAP, along with its emerging artists and the families of Red Hook. Ms. Davis has dedicated her life to breaking barriers in the arts to uplift and support the voices of our youth. She aims to increase graduation rates, provide a creative space for children’s achievement, community awareness, and build connections with Red Hook/Brooklyn residents.

Committees

This week the Investigations & Government Operations, Finance, Civil Service & Pensions, and Labor committees met. Here’s a snapshot of what we did:

Investigations & Government Operations:

  • S4353, Prohibits alcohol sales to persons inside of motor vehicles unless the licensee is specifically authorized to do so.
  • S3484, Ends the local option of towns and cities to prohibit the sale of alcohol. This eliminates all current, and prohibits any future, dry communities in New York State.
  • S3502A, requires inter-agency records prepared by an outside consultant at the behest of an agency to be subject to FOIL disclosure unless such records are exempted from disclosure.

Finance:

  • S5026, my bill that enacts the “freelance isn’t free act” which provides for the payment of freelance workers as independent contractors, including requiring written contracts. This bill addresses timely payment of compensation, handling controversies relating to payment, complaint procedures, penalties, and excludes construction contracts.
  • S2747, directs the superintendent of state police to develop and institute child-sensitive arrest policies and procedures for instances where police are arresting an individual who is a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a child.
  • S4274, creates the teen driver safety commission consisting of 12 members which is employed to study, examine and review the issue of teen driver safety. The commission is required to report its findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Civil Service & Pensions:

  • S6455, enacts the “New York state teleworking expansion act” which provides that each state agency shall establish a policy and program to allow employees to perform all or a portion of their duties through teleworking to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance.
  • S5486, requires civil service examination announcements to be issued to the local board of cooperative educational services (BOCES), high schools, colleges, universities, local social services districts, and job training programs.
  • S1039, provides procedures to be followed in appointing a hearing officer for removal and disciplinary action against certain public employees not in the service of the city of New York. This includes the use of a member of the American Arbitration Association as the hearing officer and the relevant fees to be paid. This also provides for suspension, with pay, pending the determination except where the employee has entered a guilty plea to a felony crime involving criminal sale or possession of a controlled substance.

Labor:

  • S2477A, provides for the registration and duties of model management companies and provides complaint procedures and penalties for violations.
  • S4982, protects employee freedom of speech and conscience by prohibiting employers from coercing employees into attending or participating in meetings sponsored by the employer concerning the employer’s views on political or religious matters.
  • S6646, requires the commissioner of labor to prepare an annual report on the cost of living, poverty rates and adequacy of the current minimum wage in the 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 strengthen judicial accountability and bring greater transparency to the judiciary branch of New York. Here’s a look at the legislation:

  • S4398, relates to complaints regarding judges and confidentiality of records and extends the jurisdiction of the state commission on judicial conduct as to judges who resign or retire while under investigation or formal charges.
  • S160, provides for audio-visual recordings of judicial proceedings. This bill’s intent is to give the public greater access to coverage of judicial proceedings while being considerate to the needs of witnesses.
  • S4152, requires registration and the disclosure of information relating to lobbying for the nomination or confirmation of persons to state office.
  • S1571, requires the ethics commission of the unified court system to post each state-paid judge’s annual financial disclosures on the ethics commission’s public website for five years beginning with filings made on January 1, 2018.
  • S6665, requires the chief administrator of the courts to provide reports on legal training programs conducted by the office of court administration, the performance of the judges and justices of the unified court system, and the security of the judicial and non-judicial officers of the unified court system.
  • S6417, provides for the review of bail data reports by the state commission on judicial conduct to analyze evidence of bias or prejudice by any judge or justice, and to initiate, investigate, and hear complaints and otherwise comment on matters of bias and prejudice evidenced therein.
  • S4397, authorizes the chief administrator of the courts to require and provide at least three hours of annual training regarding bail, recognizance, and commitment procedures and standards for all judges exercising preliminary jurisdiction over any offense.

During the session week we also passed legislation to further protect ratepayers across New York State. Here’s a snapshot of what passed:

  • S1851A, permits the rendering of an estimated bill from a utility corporation or municipality under certain circumstances. This bill requires each utility corporation and municipality to submit a model procedure for calculating estimated bills using best practices and more actual meter readings.
  • S4882, relates to strengthening of utility storm response and compliance by reviewing mitigating factors including but not limited to mitigating factors and the specifics surrounding the violation or violations.
  • S6557A, requires electric corporations, gas corporations, steam corporations and water-works corporations to adopt the common equity ratio and rate of return on equity authorized by the public service commission unless such utility can successfully demonstrate that such authorized rates do not meet their capital and/or operating needs.
  • S1199A, relates to establishing minimum standards for payment plans for eligible customers, eligibility, and requires the public service commission to set standards for payment plans for certain customers including reasonableness of agreements and timelines for payment.
  • S1200A, requires utility companies headquartered in New York to establish a statewide program to provide eligible participants with affordable payment plans.
  • S1303, directs the Department of Public Service to adjust each utility corporation’s residential fixed charge upon such corporation’s filing with the Department of rate schedule amendments, to recover only the fixed costs and operation and maintenance expenses directly related to metering, billing, service connections and the provision of customer service.
  • S405, relates to the reimbursement of ‘intervenors’, who advocate on behalf of resident and small business consumers, for the costs attributable with participation in a Public Service Commission rate-making proceeding.
  • S6710, establishes civil penalties for making false material statements to the public service commission in relation to a rate proceeding.
  • S5130, requires corporations and municipalities to notify property owners prior to beginning services that may interfere with a property owner’s ability to enjoy, use, or access such property.This exempts cases where a natural or man-made disaster or state of emergency occurs.

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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