New State Laws

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on April 19 to spend $200 million in 2018 on opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery programs. (Photo by Kevin Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

And how legislators voted

By Chip Rowe

These bills have been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo since March 25. The votes of state Sen. Sue Serino (a Republican whose district includes the Highlands), Sandy Galef (a Democrat whose Assembly district includes Philipstown) and Jonathan Jacobson (another Democrat whose Assembly district includes Beacon) are noted.

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

♦ In 2015, the state made it mandatory to include the results of annual state assessments — Common Core tests in math and English given to grades 3 through 8 and Regents exams given in high school — in teacher evaluations. The state teachers’ union protested and about 20 percent of students statewide in grades 3 to 8 opted out of taking the tests. (Last year at Haldane, it was about 20 percent; in Garrison, about 25 percent; and in Beacon, about 33 percent.) This new law allows districts and teachers to negotiate whether standardized tests should be part of evaluations. The Department of Education also will devise alternative assessments for districts to use without risking their state aid.

Senate passed 60-0
Serino voted yes
Assembly passed 137-6
Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes

♦ This law allows undocumented immigrants to obtain financial aid to attend state universities and community colleges and creates a commission to raise money for scholarships for the children of all immigrants. Undocumented students who apply for aid must have attended a New York high school for at least two years and have applied for citizenship. The law also eliminates the citizenship requirement to open a 529 tuition savings account. The bill was named for the late state Sen. Jose Peralta, who first introduced it in 2013.

Senate passed 40-20
Serino voted no
Assembly passed 97-42
Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes

♦ In August, Cuomo signed a law that created the nation’s first commission on prosecutorial misconduct with authority over the state’s 62 district attorneys, including those in Putnam and Dutchess counties. Any member of the public can file a complaint alleging misconduct or questioning a prosecutor’s fitness for office. Under the law, the commission would include three members appointed by the chief justice of the state’s highest court; two by the governor; and six by legislative leaders. However, after the state district attorneys’ association sued, the governor agreed to put the commission on hold. This amended law, signed by the governor on March 27, moves jurisdiction for appeals to the Appellate Division instead of the high court; requires two of the chief justice’s three appointees to be retired judges; allows the governor and legislators to each appoint four members, half of whom must be defense attorneys; and prevents the commission from interfering in active investigations. The district attorneys’ association said it was not enough and that Cuomo should have vetoed the bill.

Senate voted 45-16
Serino voted yes
Assembly voted 99-48
Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes

♦ This law requires that all limited liability companies (LLCs) that make political contributions provide the names of their owners and the percentage of each owner’s interest to the Board of Elections.

Senate voted 55-6
Serino voted yes
Assembly voted 133-13
Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes

♦ In response to the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” issued by President Trump in 2017 that would open formerly restricted coastal areas to oil and natural gas exploration and drilling, this law bans offshore drilling in New York’s coastal waters or the issuing of state permits to expand drilling in federal waters. It also bans building infrastructure for exploration or drilling. “This bill says no way are you going to drill off the coast of Long Island and New York,” Cuomo said at the signing ceremony.

Senate voted 47-14
Serino voted yes
Assembly voted 121-22
Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes

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