Governor signs another round of bills passed by state legislators
During the 2019-20 session of the state Assembly and Senate, which is scheduled to adjourn on Tuesday (June 2), Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed 844 bills, while another five await his signature, including one related to workers at the Indian Point nuclear power plant. 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).
Indian Point wages
This bill was delivered to Cuomo on Dec. 30 but he has not acted on it. It would require that employees of Indian Point and its contractors be paid the “prevailing wages” until the plant is closed and that the state Department of Labor oversee the hiring of any new workers.
Passed Senate 57-5 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 101-35 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
This law, enacted by Cuomo on Feb. 3, requires all single-occupancy bathrooms in state-owned buildings to be designated as gender-neutral. Those in state-leased buildings will be converted “when practicable.”
Passed Senate 59-1 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 139-5 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
This law, signed by Cuomo on Dec. 16, created a Postconsumer Paint Collection Program that requires manufacturers to create recycling-and-reuse programs to relieve municipalities of the burden. By one estimate, 3.1 million gallons of paint go unused each year in New York state; the bill’s supporters say it could save local governments $25 million annually now spent on recycling and disposal. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will help manufacturers and retailers form a nonprofit Paint Stewardship Program similar to what is already in place in Oregon and California.
Passed Senate 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed Assembly 138-3 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
Cuomo on Feb. 3 signed a bill into law that removes the sales tax on a customer’s first purchase each day at a microbrewery of up to four samples not exceeding 4 ounces each, with each sample being a different beer.
Passed Senate 40-21 (Serino voted no)
Passed Assembly 136-4 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
On Feb. 7, Cuomo enacted a law that exempts trace amounts of otherwise banned contaminants in children’s products that may be created during manufacturing.
Passed by Senate, 57-5 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 140-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
Signed by Cuomo on March 18, this law allows employees to take sick leave or paid family leave when subject to a mandatory or precautionary isolation order due to exposure to COVID-19. For workers at businesses with up to 10 employees, the sick leave is unpaid; for employees at firms with 11 to 99 employees or small businesses with a net income of at least $1 million annually, it’s up to five paid days; and for employees at larger firms, it’s up to 14 paid days. Employees also qualify for paid family leave to care for a dependent child who is quarantined.
Passed by Senate 50-6 (Serino did not vote)
Passed by Assembly 132-3 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
Under state law, a worker who loses his or her job must wait one week to claim unemployment benefits. (On March 12, Cuomo waived this requirement temporarily in response to job losses because of the COVID-19 shutdown.) However, if the worker is on strike, the state required a waiting period of 49 days, plus the week. On Feb. 6, Cuomo enacted a law that eliminated the 49-day wait but required striking workers to wait two weeks to claim benefits.
Passed Senate, 42-16 (Serino voted no)
Passed Assembly 111-28 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
On April 17, Cuomo enacted a law that allows the Department of Environmental Conservation to designate a species as “vulnerable” if a decline in its population “will likely result in the species becoming endangered or threatened within the foreseeable future.” Under the previous law, the DEC had to show that the species would decline by at least 30 percent over the longer of 10 years or three generations.
Passed by Senate 46-15 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly 137-5 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
Cuomo on April 17 signed a bill into law that made mostly technical changes to the organ donor system but included the removal of “close friend” from the list of people who can be authorized to speak for a donor.
Passed by Senate 60-1 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly 137-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
On April 17, Cuomo enacted a law that restored a requirement that lactation counseling be ordered by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner for the service to be covered by Medicaid.
Passed by Senate 61-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly 141-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
Taxi seat belts
On April 17, Cuomo signed a bill into law that allows police officers to ticket a parent or guardian if he or she is riding in a taxi or livery with a child or teen aged 8 to 15 who is not wearing a seat belt. The minor cannot be ticketed.
Passed by Senate 61-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly 137-3 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)