As part of my community engagement platform, I promised to provide a regular weekly update on what’s happening up in Albany. I missed last week’s post, so this is an update for the last two weeks of the legislative session. (That means it’s a bit longer than usual!)

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.

*Three for Community*

My Three for Community challenge has a goal of getting 10,000 neighbors to pledge to do three good deeds a week to improve our neighborhood. Have you signed up yet? If not, take the pledge with me and help us being a stronger, more vibrant community! For more information, please email community@senatorgounardes.nyc.

*Pedestrian Safety Taskforce*

On May 8th, I held the second meeting of the Southern Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Task Force. Members of local community boards, community education councils, community precinct councils, police precincts, elected officials, and community activists who are focused on street safety met again to address persistent concerns of pedestrian and traffic safety in Southern Brooklyn.

The meeting included great discussion about legislation that I drafted following the first meeting of the taskforce, including a bill to require pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness as a component of the mandatory 5-hour class and written drivers exam.

For more information about the Task Force or about the meeting, please email russell@senatorgounardes.nyc.

*Transit Survey*

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been visiting subway stations and bus stops in the morning to talk to riders about their commutes. The general sentiment? Morning commutes seem to be getting a little better, but the evenings are getting worse. I want to hear from you, too! Take my transit survey so I can learn how you use mass transit and how we can make it better.

*Rent Regulation and Tenant Protection Hearing*

This June, the rent regulation laws are expiring. The State Senate is holding a hearing this Thursday, May 16th, on ways to strengthen existing rent laws and help enhance tenant protections.

What’s happening in Albany

The week of April 29th to May 1st was the fifteenth week of legislative activity and we were in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. To see the full schedule of the legislation session, click here.

Committee Meetings

Higher Education

The Senate Higher Education Committee met on Tuesday, April 30th. It was the sixth Higher Education meeting of the 2019 Legislative Session.

You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its seventh meeting of 2019 on Tuesday, April 30th. The committee considered nine pieces of legislation, all of which I supported. Among these nine bills was S3647, a bill that I am sponsoring which would amend the State constitution to eliminate the requirement that a veteran must have served in time of war in order to be eligible to receive additional points on civil service examinations for appointments and promotions in New York.

You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Civil Service and Pensions

I chaired the fifth meeting of the Civil Service and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, April 30th. There were eleven bills on the committee agenda and I voted to move all of them out of committee.

Included in the agenda were bills:

S456 — This bill clarifies the intent of New York State to comply with the federal “Equal Pay Act of 1963” and “Civil Rights Act of 1964” and states its intent to ensure a fair and non-biased wage structure for all public employees regardless of sex, race or national origin.

S3841 — This bill grants eligibility for the presumption regarding impairment caused by heart disease as a performance of duty disability provision for university police officers appointed by the State University of New York.

S3922 — This bill allows any member of the division of law enforcement in the Department of Environmental Conservation, Forest Rangers, University Police Officers, and the Regional Park Police who is injured in the performance of his or her duty and can no longer perform his or her duties due to the injury to receive three quarters accidental disability retirement.

S4521 — This bill allows retired police officers who are hired by a school district to be employed as school resource officers with a salary up to $65,000 to be eligible to continue to receive their full retirement benefit.

S5207 — This bill establishes a twenty year retirement plan for members or officers of law enforcement; includes every non-seasonally appointed sworn member or officer of the division of law enforcement in the department of environmental conservation, a forest ranger in the service of the department of environmental conservation, a police officer in the department of environmental conservation, the regional state park police, and university police officers in such twenty year plan.

You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Corporations, Authorities and Commissions

The Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee met on Monday, May 6th. It was the committee’s seventh meeting of the 2019 legislative session.

The committee’s agenda included S5318A, which requires all public authorities seeking to transfer control of critical transportation infrastructure to the private business sector, as well as all those who have done so within the past ten years, to issue a study reporting on the effects of privatization on the infrastructure and on the authority’s finances and operations. I voted in favor of this bill and the other 10 bills on the committee agenda. You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Codes

The Senate Codes Committee held its fourth meeting of 2019 on Monday, May 6th. The committee considered twelve pieces of legislation, all of which I supported. Among these twelve bills was S2987, a bill that I am co-sponsoring which amends the penal code to not allow the affirmative defense of extreme emotional disturbance when the defendant alleges he/she suffered an extreme emotional disturbance upon the discovery by the defendant of the victim’s sexual orientation, sex, gender, or sex assigned at birth.

You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Labor

On Tuesday, May 7th, the Senate Labor Committee met for the fifth time since the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. The committee considered five bills, all of which I voted to advance out of committee, which included S5248, a bill that prohibits pay discrimination against protected classes when the individual in a protected class is the victim of an unfair wage differential (compared with a non-protected class worker) despite performing substantially similar work, performing work under similar circumstances and proving to be responsible and competent in their performance of duties. You can read more about the bills on the agenda and the committee meeting here.

Day to Day

We had three days of legislative session each of the last two weeks. Below are some of the highlights:

<Monday, April 29>

  • S2665 — prevents telephone customers from being charged any fees on their telephone bill when the fee or charge is imposed by a third party without the consumer’s consent.
  • S2958A — requires information on concussions and sub-concussive blows to be provided to all parents of children playing tackle football.

You can watch Monday’s legislative session here.

<Tuesday, April 30th>

  • S501B — establishes strict regulations on toxic chemicals in children’s products.
  • S752 — increases the allowable tax credit for the installation of solar energy system equipment from $5,000 to $10,000.
  • S2072 — amends the State Constitution’s bill of rights to include a right to clean air and water and a healthy environment.
  • S2767-encourages the expansion of the production of fresh fruits and vegetables by community gardens; directs the state and municipalities to develop more and safer bike lanes and multiple use trails so as to encourage physical activity and reduce carbon emissions.
  • S5343- prohibits the use of chlorpyrifos, a known neurotoxic pesticide.

You can watch Tuesday’s legislative session here.

<Wednesday, May 1st>

The Senate passed another one of my bills on Wednesday, May 1st. S2042 ensures that only the most qualified personnel receive promotion to supervisory positions in the emergency medical service. The supervisory personnel of emergency first responders in large metropolitan areas experience the challenges of providing timely, high-quality assistance during life-threatening emergencies daily so it is paramount that the highest level of healthcare is rendered to the public in the most efficient and competent possible manner. Below are some of the highlights from Wednesday’s session:

  • S1089 — exempts funds in a qualified tuition program (529 accounts) in the calculation of household benefits under public assistance programs, to eliminate the disadvantage that working class families face when applying for public assistance while also trying to save for their children’s’ education.
  • S2960-ensures that drivers have greater awareness of the law prohibiting overtaking and passing a stopped school bus by including a school bus safety component in the driver’s education curriculum and at least one question on school bus safety in the pre-licensing written exam.
  • S3558A-increases the penalties for overtaking and passing a school bus
  • S4573-reduces the amount of time that workers on strike must wait prior to receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

You can watch Wednesday’s legislative session here.

<Monday, May 6th>

  • S3101 — ensures New York residents have access to adequate healthcare coverage for eating disorders, decreasing the chance of chronic illness and death.
  • S2387 — requires each package or box containing menstrual products sold in New York State to contain a plain and conspicuous printed list of all ingredients with percentages of the components of the products.

You can watch Monday’s legislative session here.

<Tuesday, May 7th>

Today the Senate passed three of my sponsored bills!

  • S3918 — allows certified or registered public employee organizations to represent employees as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Superior Officer Benevolent Association of an MTA-public employer.
  • S3841 — grants eligibility for the presumption regarding impairment caused by heart disease as a performance of duty disability provision applicable to university police officers appointed by the State University of New York.
  • S4308A — This legislation removes the earning limitations on members of the New York State Policemen’s and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), the New York City Police Pension Fund (“PPF”), and the New York City Fire Pension Fund (“FPF”) who retire and subsequently become employed by a community college as faculty member under a criminal justice program of the State University of New York (“SUNY”) program or a City University of New York (“CUNY”) program. It helps to preserve the quality and viability of these academic programs that students and local and state law enforcement agencies depend on for future public safety needs.

You can watch Tuesday’s legislative session here.

<Wednesday, May 8th>

Today, my colleagues and I passed legislation that will have a major impact, nationally and in New York State, by holding President Donald Trump accountable to New Yorkers. Below are some of the highlights from Wednesday’s session:

  • S.5072A-allows New York State officials to release state tax returns in cooperation with Congressional investigations by authorizing the Commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance to furnish state tax returns upon written request of the chairperson of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.
  • S.4572-allows New York state prosecutors to bring charges against people who have received presidential pardons, or other forms of clemency, in certain circumstances. This bill only applies in situations where the President had a conflict of interest in the case; for example, where the person pardoned is related to the President, or had previously worked for the President.
  • S1850-allows state prison inmates entering solitary confinement in special housing units (SHU) and in residential mental health treatment units to make a telephone call upon admission into SHU and at least once a week thereafter.

You can watch Wednesday’s legislative session here.

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

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NYS Senator, District 22.

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Senator Andrew Gounardes

Senator Andrew Gounardes

NYS Senator, District 22.

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