Senator Andrew Gounardes
5 min readMay 24, 2021


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 twenty.

You can always email me directly at if you have any other questions, ideas, or want more information about what’s happening in Albany or the district.

*Session Week 20*

Committee Meetings

This was the last week of committee meetings for the year, so each one of my committees met.

Civil Service & Pensions

This week I convened our seventh and final Civil Service and Pensions Committee meeting of this session. We passed 18 bills through the committee, including 6 of my own.

  • My bill, S4523 creates a twenty year retirement plan for law enforcement officers who work at the Department of Environmental Conservation, as forest rangers, as regional state park police, and as university police officers at SUNY. I also sponsored S4899 which provides labor and non-competitive class employees with the same recall rights enjoyed by competitive class employees in the civil service system.
  • We passed a package of bills to improve the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). These included my bill S6618 ,which allows beneficiaries of older members who commence employment at age 60 or older to still receive a post-retirement death benefit in the third and ensuing years following the member’s retirement. And bill S6569, which increases the minimum guaranteed retirement benefit for some of the oldest TRS members and expands the pool of members eligible for this benefit floor.
  • S6022 makes veterans discharged because of their LGBT+ status or because they suffered from certain conditions eligible for the three year military buyback.

Consumer Protection

In the Consumer Protection committee we passed 5 bills including:

  • S1048A which I cosponsored, regulates the sale, manufacture, importation and marketing of firearms in relation to creating or maintaining a condition that endangers safety or health through the sale, manufacturing, importing or marketing of firearms.
  • S5924A makes transcript withholding a prohibited debt collection practice from higher education institutions.
  • S6701 or the “NY Privacy Act” requires companies to obtain consent from consumers before processing their personal data.


In the Judiciary committee we passed 7 bills including one of my own:

  • My bill S849A extends the statute of limitations for discrimination in the workplace to six years.
  • S6027A allows pet owners to recover increased damages from a person who negligently or intentionally causes the death or injury of their pet with no justifiable purpose.


In the Labor committee we passed 9 bills including:

  • S1022 requires the Workers Compensation Board to provide translation services for non-English speakers.
  • S5055A requires the Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to create a model training program for racial equity, social justice, and implicit bias in the workplace.
  • S1997 enforces the current prohibition on forced overtime for nurses by setting a civil penalty for violations.

Cities 1

In the Cities 1 committee we passed 7 bills including:

  • S3586 creates an “Adjacent Neighbors’ Bill of Rights” for homeowners and landlords who live next to a property undergoing construction in NYC.
  • S6258 extends previously authorized work permits for contractors working to repair homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Higher Education

In the Higher Education committee we passed 12 bills including:

  • S3064 Codifies current practice by permitting individuals enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to apply for professional licenses with the state Education Department.
  • S3448 requires SUNYs and CUNYs that house students to train RAs in the use of opioid antagonists to prevent overdoses.
  • S3686 allows NY residents aged 65 or older to enroll in a limited number of SUNY or CUNY courses for credit without paying tuition.
  • S4449 requires the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) to make financial aid determinations within 60 days of a completed financial aid application.


In the Insurance committee we passed 11 bills including:

  • S653 allows insurance notices and documents to be delivered electronically with policyholder consent.
  • S5909 Prohibits the application of fail-first or step therapy protocols to coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.
  • S6715 enacts the peer-to-peer car sharing program act, which provides guidelines for establishing peer-to-peer car sharing programs and outlines how they shall be insured.


Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter.

We passed 59 bills, including two of my own, some of which are highlighted below:

  • The Senate passed my bill S1078A, which requires new drivers to learn about pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness as a component of the pre-licensing exam.
  • We also passed S5728A, which sunsets the ability of future beneficiaires of NYC TRS members to maintain a tax-deferred annuity account within TRS after the TRS member dies, since these beneficiaries can receive much better rates in an IRA on the private market and no longer face a tax penalty for transferring such funds out of NYC TRS.

Driver & Pedestrian Safety

  • I cosponsored S6202, eliminating the “rule of two” which makes reckless driving difficult to prosecute and incorporating reckless driving and vehicular violence training into the vehicle, traffic, and insurance law components of pre-licensing courses for driver’s licenses.
  • S4529 which I also cosponsored, requires drivers outside of New York City overtaking a bicycle pass to the left of such a bicycle at a safe distance.
  • S3957 increases penalties for endangerment of a highway worker, promotes work zone safety awareness, and establishes a fund for additional work zone safety enforcement.
  • S1391 Establishes first responder safety zones and sets speed limits in such safety zones.

Other noteworthy bills:

  • I cosponsored, S284A which allows a ballot to be cast and canvassed when a voter appears in the correct county, but in the incorrect polling place and election district.
  • S1053, which I also cosponsored, establishes the act of voyeurism or “peeping Tom” as a crime.

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

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