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 weeks 18 and 19.

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.

*Session Week 18*

Committee Meetings

Civil Service & Pensions

This week I convened our sixth Civil Service and Pensions Committee meeting of this session. We passed 9 bills through committee, including 2 of my own.

  • My bill, S6015 This bill mandates that vacancies for fire alarm dispatcher supervisory titles be filled by a competitive promotional civil service exam.
  • My bill, S5630 provides Tier 6 ERS court officers the ability to retire at age 55 with 30 years of service and decreases the normal retirement age from 63 to 62 years.
  • S4859 creates a 25 year retirement plan for the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) firefighters in the New York State and Local Retirement system.
  • S5110 makes civil servant veterans who retired prior to May 31st, 2017 eligible for the same three year military service buyback that veterans who retired after May 31st, 2017 enjoy.

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.

We passed 55 bills, including one of my own, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Following up my resolution from a couple weeks ago recognizing the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the NYS Constitution, this week we passed my bill which forever commemorates April 20th as NYS Constitution Day (S6193A).

Food and Housing Security

  • S64, which I cosponsored, ensures that SNAP recipients are able to use their benefits for hot or prepared meals at participating grocery stores, delis and restaurants.
  • S6362A extends the “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020” through August 31, 2021.
  • S6108 requires the Department of Financial Services to compile a comprehensive list of all COVID-19 related programs and resources on a webpage.
  • I also cosponsored S6481 which clarifies qualifications for certain supplemental costs associated with the COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program.

Education

  • I cosponsored, S2767A which established the private student loan refinance task force to recommend ways lending institutions can offer New York graduates of higher education the opportunity to refinance their student loans and provide borrowers with more flexibility with reducing monthly payments.
  • S5475 which I was also a cosponsor on, created five-year capital plans for SUNY and CUNY. This bill was a huge win for our CUNY New Deal.

Animal Safety

  • S1130 , a bill that I am a proud cosponsor, which shuts down the puppy mill pipeline by ending the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in New York pet stores.
  • S4248 requires the court to consider the best interest of a companion animal when awarding possession in a divorce or separation proceeding.

Other noteworthy bills:

  • S2987A establishes a racial equity working group to address issues related to racism as a public health crisis.
  • S5628 prevents foster youth from unnecessary background checks.
  • S4856 requires policies and contracts that provide coverage for prescription drugs to include coverage of an immediate additional thirty-day supply of a prescription drug during a state disaster emergency.

*Session Week 19*

Committee Meetings

Judiciary

In the Judiciary committee we passed a total of 14 bills including:

  • S1143 The Wrongfully Convicted Recovery Act provides compensation and other benefits in the Court of Claims for people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.
  • S66 The Adult Survivors Act, which I cosponsor, creates a one-year window for otherwise time-barred civil claims arising out of sexual offenses committed against people who were 18+.
  • S6498 Restricts the use of restraints on youth under the age of 21 when they appear in Family Court.

Higher Education

In the Judiciary committee we passed 8 bills including:

  • I cosponsored S6517 which enhances support and services for postsecondary students with disabilities.
  • S6529 prohibits discrimination, intimidation, and retaliation against students of proprietary schools who file a written complaint or exercise their right of private action against a proprietary school.
  • S6518 Allows the State Education Department to give the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) access to patient and client records for the purpose of investigation and prosecution of professional licensing and misconduct proceedings.

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.

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

  • My bill S6015, which passed through committee last week and now passed the Senate, mandates that vacancies for fire alarm dispatcher supervisory titles be filled by a competitive promotional civil service exam.

Combatting Human Trafficking

  • I cosponsored S244A which requires lodging facilities to provide a human-trafficking recognition training program to all employees.
  • S672 extends the statute of limitations from 10 years to 15 years to give human trafficking victims more time to file a civil cause of action.
  • S1216 requires state contractors to submit a statement on preventing human trafficking within its operations, business dealings, and supply chain.
  • S3374 requires the posting of the federal human trafficking referral hotline information at all establishment selling alcohol beverages.

The Courts System

  • I was also a co-sponsor on S404, which ensures that prosecutors have access to past orders of protection in domestic violence cases to be able to charge abusers with criminal contempt if they violated a past order of protection.
  • S6363 requires the court to order seizure of firearms, rifles, and shotguns when a defendant willfully refuses to surrender them in defiance of a court order issued in connection with an order of protection.
  • S328A ,which I cosponsored, recognizes the unlawful installation of a gas meter as a class B misdemeanor.

Other noteworthy bills:

  • I cosponsored S6244A which waives the recoupment of overpaid unemployment insurance benefits if the overpayment was made without fault on the part of the claimant and repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience.
  • S1958 clarifies that workers shall not be punished or subjected to discipline by employers for lawful absences
  • S641 Requires public utility companies to repair or replace all damaged residential lateral sewer and water pipes where such damage was caused by such a public utility company and not a homeowner.

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 gounardes@nysenate.gov or call my office as 718–238–6044.

NYS Senator, District 22.