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.

This is an update from the week of April 29th and May 6th.

*Session Week Fourteen*

Senate sessions and committee meetings were on pause in the past two weeks while we were on break after passing the budget. I am happy to be back and excited to continue to push for legislation to better the community.

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 was a three day session week, and 51 bills were passed including six that I cosponsor:

  • S404 ensures that prosecutors have access to sealed orders of protection in domestic violence cases so they can charge abusers with criminal contempt if the offender commits a new domestic violence offense.
  • S7176 establishes the “advanced building codes, appliance and equipment efficiency standards act of 2021”; includes the promotion of clean energy and the implementation of the climate agenda set forth in the New York state climate leadership and community protection act to the state energy conservation construction code.
  • S1053 defines the crime of voyeurism in the first and second degree as a “peeping Tom” law. A peeping Tom is one who trespasses without such person’s knowledge or consent for their own amusement, entertainment, profit, sexual arousal or sexual gratification by viewing a person dressing or undressing or the sexual or other intimate parts of such person at a place and time when such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Here are some additional bills passed by the Senate this week:

  • S1745 allows licensed New York state farm distilleries, breweries, cideries, wineries, or meaderies, to apply for temporary 24-hour permits from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for events located in a municipality with a population of less than one million.
  • S4093 designates September 22-d as “Veteran Suicide Awareness and Remembrance Day.” On this day, New Yorkers will be called to remember the internal wounds of war that are unseen and sustain long after the end of a veteran’s military service. This day will honor the fallen and their families by raising awareness to this issue and commemorating their service to our country.
  • S7378A requires the Department of Health to publish certain reports on the department’s website detailing sales of opioids sold in the state. Additionally, it requires the department of health to compile and publish on its website all reports submitted to the department detailing all opioids sold by a registrant in the state of New York including the initial report with transaction information from July 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019 and each annual report thereafter within ninety days.

You can view the remaining bills the Senate has passed so far this year here.

Committee Meetings

This week, I sat on the committees for Insurance, Civil Service & Pensions, Higher Education, Judiciary, and Finance, where I voted on several important bills, including several of my own that I hope to see on the Senate floor soon.

Insurance

In the Insurance committee we passed 12 bills including the following:

  • S7658 prohibits insurance companies from increasing premiums or revoking coverage for a policyholder solely because such policyholder has submitted claims for losses resulting from a hate crime.

Higher Education

In the Higher Education committee we passed 13 bills including the following:

  • S7659A requires the state university of New York and the city university of New York to adopt certain provisions related to student mental health such as administering student mental health surveys, administering mental health training to faculty and staff, improving university policies regarding mental health, and so forth. This legislation is a start to destigmatizing mental illnesses and health discussions on college campuses.

Civil Service & Pensions

In the Civil Service & Pensions committee we passed six bills, including one of which I am the primary sponsor:

  • S1889B provides an accidental disability retirement benefit for fire protection specialists who have been injured as a result of a performance-of-duty related accident. A specialist would qualify for accidental disability if they become physically or mentally incapacitated for performance of duty as a natural and proximate result of an accident not caused by willful neglicence, unless the contrary be proven by competent evidence.
  • S8399 allows uniformed court officers and peace officers employed in the Office of Court Administration (OCA) to be entitled to accidental disability retirement worth 75% of final average salary if they sustain injuries as the result of a physical assault by an assailant suffered while in service.

Finance

In the Finance committee we passed 27 bills including the following:

  • S1594 is the NY Living Donor Support Act, creates a living donor support program to help pay the living expenses of organ donors by removing financial barriers and educating the public about living donation.
  • S1603, the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act, reduces the rents of NYCHA tenants on a prorated basis for each day they are without heat, water, gas, or electricity. A reduction in the rent and utilities payment within NYCHA housing will hold NYCHA accountable for repeated deprivation of essential utility services.

Judiciary

In the Judiciary committee we passed 9 bills including the following:

  • S837 creates additional remedies for unlawful discharge, penalty, or discrimination on account of the exercise of a right to be absent from employment for jury duty. This act will inhibit security in employees fulfilling their obligation and allow more people to participate in the jury process.

A Note on Redistricting

This week, the New York Court of Appeals determined that the new Congressional and State Senate district lines were unconstitutional. I want to emphasize that none of the courts found the State Senate lines to be unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering, but due to the flawed process we were forced to use thanks to former Governor Cuomo and the State Senate GOP back in 2012. The next step is for the Special Master, appointed by one of the NYS Supreme Courts, to draw new lines by May 20th.

*Session Week Fifteen*

This week was a four day session week, and 64 bills were passed including four that I sponsored and three that I have cosponsored. The four bills I sponsored were:

  • S6193A designates April Twentieth as a day of commemoration to be known as “New York State Constitution Day” in the State of New York. The importance of the New York State Constitution to our citizens and residents cannot be understated therefore it is the duty of the State to educate its citizens about this important document.
  • S8947 & S8948 make technical amendments to the recently enacted state budget.

Other bills passed by the Senate this week include

  • S7914 requires colleges, universities, professional, proprietary, and graduate schools to provide written notice of their tuition liability policy to students multiple times throughout the academic year. This legislation will aid students with greater notice of tuition liability policies to ensure that students are fully aware of all deadlines and waivers.
  • S286A mandates the board of elections to make electronic ballot images and cast vote records public records and requires these images to be available no later than one week after such election. This will help increase transparency of the elections process, and give public access by request to ballot images within a short period after an election.

You can view the remaining bills the Senate has passed so far this year here.

Committee Meetings

This week, I sat on the committees for Labor and Finance, where I voted on several important bills, including several of my own that I hope to see on the Senate floor soon.

Labor

In the Labor committee we passed 10 bills including the following:

  • S6803 authorizes the department of labor to develop a public awareness campaign to promote the New York state job bank. This program has helped many New Yorkers to find employment but suffers from lack of awareness. If more employees and employers are made aware of its existence, it may highly benefit them.

Finance

In the Finance committee we passed 27 bills including the following:

  • S1593 allows an adult home, enriched housing facility, assisted living residence or special needs assisted living residence to provide for nursing services in the facility that are not continual, either by arrangement with a provider of nursing services or by employment.
  • S5579A relates to critical energy infrastructure security and responsibility; relates to the protection of critical infrastructure in the state This legislation would protect critical energy infrastructure in the energy policy of the state, define “critical energy infrastructure” and “industrial control systems” to ensure future legislation is able to be easily created in this space and empower the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to assess the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to cyber attack.

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

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store