Governor signs another round of bills passed by state legislators

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has so far during the 2019-20 legislative session enacted 778 bills passed by the state Senate and Assembly, with another five waiting for his signature. He has vetoed 169.

Below are summaries of select laws enacted since Dec. 9 and the votes cast by Republican Sue Serino (whose Senate district includes the Highlands), Democrat Sandy Galef (whose Assembly district includes Philipstown) and Democrat Jonathan Jacobson (whose Assembly district includes Beacon). Serino did not respond to an inquiry about her votes in the minority.

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

Environmental justice

Cuomo on Dec. 23 signed a law to create a 16-member Environmental Justice Advisory Board, as well as an Interagency Coordinating Council. The board will create a model environmental justice policy so that low-income and minority communities can “have a seat at the table,” its supporters said, while the council will provide guidance to state agencies implementing environmental justice policies to combat climate change.

Board members will be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, while the council will consist of commissioners from various agencies.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 117-30 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Elevator licensing

Cuomo on Jan. 2 signed legislation requiring individuals engaged in the design, construction, inspection, maintenance and repair of elevators or other “automated people-moving conveyances” to be licensed by the state.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 145-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Safe way home

On Dec. 23, Cuomo enacted the Safe Way Home Act, which requires hospitals to use victim-services funds to pay for sexual-assault victims to be driven after treatment to their homes or shelters. It takes effect on March 22.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 146-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Zombie properties

On Dec. 18, Cuomo enacted the Zombie Property Remediation Act of 2019, which allows local governments to force lenders to foreclose on vacant properties or discharge the mortgage within three months. During debate over the bill, opponents asked how a municipality would determine if a vacant property was in default. They also noted that mortgages typically do not require banks to maintain abandoned properties, meaning the law would alter existing contracts.

Passed Senate 48-14 (Serino voted no)
Passed Assembly 122-24 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Property-tax relief

Cuomo on Dec. 13 signed a bill introduced in the Assembly by Galef that allows water, library, fire and other special districts to provide property-tax exemptions on the value of changes made to make a home more accessible for a disabled homeowner (e.g., ramps, grab bars, alterations to lighting and heating systems) that increase its value.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 146-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Fire safety at schools

Cuomo on Dec. 17 enacted a law that requires schools to have fire inspections conducted by a fire department or certified inspector. It also eliminated a provision that allowed inspectors who made errors to avoid liability, allows the state to deny a public school to operate if it does not correct deficiencies noted in a fire inspection, and gives the state authority to order an inspection of any private school that does not submit an annual safety report.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 140-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Dream’s Law

Cuomo on Dec. 10 signed legislation requiring that hospitals have plans in place for patients who are discharged but still require central venous lines.

Dream Shepherd (second from right) with her mother, State Sen. David Carlucci and Assembly Member Sandy Galef. (Photo provided)

The bill, introduced in the Assembly by Galef, was named Dream’s Law for Dream Shepherd, 14, of Ossining, who was battling sickle-cell disease but was denied a private nurse by the family’s insurance company. The law requires that hospitals train the caregivers of patients who are discharged with a central venous line within 24 hours on how to administer medication.

Passed Senate 61-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 145-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Changing names

Cuomo on Dec. 11 enacted a bill that prohibits political parties from changing their names once they are on the ballot.

Galef introduced the legislation in the Assembly after the gubernatorial candidate for the Stop Common Core Party received more than 50,000 votes in the 2014 election to win the party a ballot line for the next four years. But in January 2015 it changed its name to the Reform Party, a move that supporters of the legislation said gave the organization “a multi-year legal political status based on fraud.”

Passed Senate 43-19 (Serino voted no)
Passed Assembly 111-30 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Health insurance

The governor on Dec. 12 signed legislation that expands what procedures do not require pre-approval from an insurer.

In 2007, the state enacted a law that prevented insurers from ruling that certain procedures performed by a surgeon had to be pre-authorized so that doctors could deal with complications without seeking approval.

The 2019 law is designed to address situations such as chemotherapy, which is typically done on an outpatient basis. Patients often are treated for related symptoms such as nausea, low platelet counts and allergic reactions so they can receive chemo. The law will allow doctors to perform these procedures without first getting approval from an insurer. It takes effect on March 11.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 147-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Water contamination

Cuomo on Dec. 9 enacted a law that will ban a chemical known as 1,4-dioxane, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency has identified as a likely carcinogen, from household cleaners sold in the state and limit its use in cosmetics and personal care products (see below).

1,4-Dioxane in Products

In parts per billion (ppb)

Victoria’s Secret Fragrance Wash

Tide Original

Home Store Lemon Dish Soap

Baby Magic Hair and Body Wash

Dawn Dish Soap

Selsun Blue


Purex Laundry

Soft Soap Fresh Breeze

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

Source: Citizens Campaign for the Environment (, which in 2019 found the chemical in 65 of 80 products it had tested. The group notes the proposed state drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane is 1 ppb.

Elevated levels of 1,4-dioxane have been found in the water of municipalities across the state but especially on Long Island, which has the highest levels in the nation. In the Hudson Valley, the chemical was detected last year in five public water systems that serve more than 10,000 residents, not including Beacon or anywhere in Putnam County.

The law establishes a “trace-amount threshold” for manufacturers, who have until Jan. 1, 2022, to comply, although they can obtain a one-year waiver if they have systems in place to remove the chemical from their products.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 144-2 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Absentee voting

On Dec. 10, Cuomo enacted a bill introduced in the Assembly by Galef that requires that absentee ballots match the ballots used on Election Day and another that requires simplified absentee ballot applications created in 2010 for general elections to also be used by school districts. The latter goes into effect on March 9.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 143-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Passed Senate 41-20 (Serino voted no)
Passed Assembly 142-4 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Limo safety

In the wake of a stretch limousine crash in Cuthogue in 2015 that killed four teenagers and another in 2018 in Schoharie that killed 20 people, Cuomo on Feb. 3 enacted a package of laws aimed at the industry. Each bill passed unanimously or nearly unanimously in the Senate and Assembly with support from Serino, Galef and Jacobson.

A photo shows the interior of a stretch limousine that later crashed in Schoharie, killing 17 passengers. Only the driver, who also died, was wearing a seat belt. (NTSB)

Vehicles converted into stretch limousines as of Jan. 1, 2021, must have at least one seat belt for each passenger. All limos must be retrofitted with belts by Jan. 1, 2023.

■ Limo drivers must have commercial driver’s licenses.
■ The state can impound or immobilize limos if they fail inspection.
■ The penalties for illegal U-turns by limos were increased.
■ The state will create a safety hotline for issues involving limos.
■ Owners must register stretch limos with the DMV, which will review driver records at least annually. The agency also will post data online about firms that operate limos and their drivers.
■ A state task force will be created to review limo safety.
■ Limo drivers and applicants will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing.

In addition, a new law requires that taxi or livery cab passengers under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt in the back seat.

Hemp sales

Cuomo on Dec. 9 signed legislation that requires hemp manufacturers to test and label their products. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets will oversee permits for hemp growers and the Department of Health will regulate hemp extract such as CBD; its sellers are required to register.

Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 131-4 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Victim compensation

On Dec. 20, Cuomo signed a bill into law that makes domestic partners eligible for compensation from the crime victims’ fund.

Passed Senate 59-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 122-24 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A former longtime national magazine editor, Rowe has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Idaho and South Dakota and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

One reply on “How They Voted”

  1. Thank you for the thorough reporting local political donation numbers and the recent voting record of our representative state lawmakers. It is incredibly helpful to have this efficiently presented all together. Hope it continues.

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