New State Laws

And how legislators voted

By Chip Rowe

Sandy Galef, who represents Philipstown in the state Assembly, shared this list of new state laws that take effect this month. The votes of Galef and state Sen. Sue Serino (whose district includes the Highlands) are noted. There was no vote from the Assembly member who represents Beacon because the bills passed between the death of Frank Skartados in April and the election of his successor, Jonathan Jacobson, in November.

♦ Female inmates at local and state correctional facilities, who had been required to purchase feminine hygiene products, will receive them at no cost. The lawmakers who sponsored the bill noted that female inmates at the Taconic State Correctional Facility earn 17 cents an hour for their work duties but were charged 24 cents for each tampon. As a result, an inmate needed to spend a week’s wages to receive a 20-count box.

Assembly passed 141-0 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 59-2 (Serino voted yes)

♦ It is estimated that private industry will build solar-panel farms on more than 6,000 acres in New York by next year, many of them near agricultural land. In some cases, developers voluntarily leave native plants around the edges of the site to create “pollinator enhancement strips” for bees and other beneficial creatures. To help the public judge claims that a site is pollinator-friendly, the state will develop voluntary guidelines.

Assembly passed 137-0 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 62-0 (Serino voted yes)

♦ Nonprofit organizations must include the website and phone number of the Charities Bureau of the state Attorney General’s Office on solicitations for donations.

Assembly passed 133-0 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 60-0 (Serino voted yes)

♦ Under new guidelines, firefighters will be allowed to complete their Firefighter and Firefighter Recruit certification at their local departments or online rather than having to travel to training sessions.

Assembly passed 131-0 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 36-24 (Serino voted yes)

♦ The number of days that an animal shelter must keep a stray cat before putting it up for adoption or euthanizing it after it has been examined by a veterinarian and no owner has come forward was reduced from five days to three. Shelter operators say that holding stray cats for five days or longer increases the risk of the cat spreading or getting diseases and infections that can be difficult and expensive to treat, especially when the cat is unlikely to be claimed.

Assembly passed 137-3 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 61-0 (Serino voted yes)

♦ Debt collectors sometimes use what they call “emphatic active listening” to convince grieving families that they must pay the deceased’s debts. This law requires agencies to inform relatives of the deceased, orally and in writing, that they may not be legally required to do so. Agencies are already forbidden from contacting anyone other than the debtor about outstanding bills.

Assembly passed 106-37 (Galef voted yes)
Senate passed 61-0 (Serino voted yes)

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