How They Voted

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

Governor signs round of bills passed by state legislators

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed 312 bills passed during the 2021-22 legislative session, which began in January. Another 82 await his signature.

Below are summaries of select laws 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).

Gender recognition
On June 24, Cuomo enacted a law that allows residents to use “X” as a sex designation on their driver’s licenses and more easily keep legal name and gender changes confidential, especially if a judge agrees there is a risk of violence or discrimination. A person who legally changes name or gender also cannot be compelled to notify federal immigration authorities. Before the law, New Yorkers who wanted to legally change their names were required to publish their new and previous names, current address, place of birth and date of birth in the newspaper. The law also allows residents to amend the gender on their birth certificates or use a designation of “parent” instead of mother or father.

Passed by Senate, 46-17 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 113-36 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Prosecutorial misconduct
On June 17, Cuomo revived the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, which will review complaints against district attorneys and assistant district attorneys and send recommendations to disciplinary committees and the governor’s office. The law was designed to address a state court decision in January 2020 that said the powers given to the committee were unconstitutional. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York opposes the commission, saying it singles out its members because the commission will not consider complaints against the state attorney general or county attorneys.

Passed by Senate, 46-17 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 135-15 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Allergic response
On July 1, Cuomo enacted a law that allows the state’s 700 forest rangers, park rangers and environmental conservation police officers to carry and administer EpiPens to people suffering serious allergic reactions to stimuli such as bee stings, insect bites, food allergies or exercise-induced shock.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 147-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

COVID sick time
Cuomo signed legislation on July 1 that prohibits public employers from penalizing employees who use sick time for quarantine or to seek treatment related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or contact. The law was inspired by a New York Daily News report that 893 officers at the New York City Department of Corrections who missed work after testing positive had been penalized for being “chronically absent.” 

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 149-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Unemployment benefits
On July 16, Cuomo signed a bill that changes how unemployment benefits are calculated for people who return to work part-time. Previously, a person’s weekly benefits were reduced by 25 percent for every day he or she worked, even if only for an hour. Under the new law, benefits are reduced based on total hours, so a person can work up to seven days as long as he or she does not exceed 30 hours and earns less than $504, excluding self-employment. The law is designed to encourage claimants to take part-time jobs.

Senate passed 62-1 (Serino voted yes)
Assembly passed 130-20 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Voting reforms
On July 16, Cuomo signed a package of voting reforms, including:

  • Eliminating the requirement for signed absentee ballot applications and allowing absentee ballots to be counted if they are postmarked on or before Election Day.
    Passed by Senate, 43-20 (Serino voted no)
    Passed by Assembly, 104-43 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • Allowing voters to request absentee ballots online or by email.
    Passed by Senate, 43-20 (Serino voted no)
    Passed by Assembly, 104-43 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • Requiring that election officials post a notice if a polling place has changed since the last election. Introduced in the Assembly by Jacobson, the legislation requires that the notice be printed on yellow paper, include the new site’s address and be posted at the entrance of the former site before the polls open.
    Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
    Passed by Assembly, 150-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • Changing the deadline for the Board of Elections to receive a mailed absentee ballot request to 15 days before Election Day, from seven, to ensure that the post office has enough time to deliver the ballot. 
    Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
    Passed by Assembly, 142-7 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • Allowing a candidate who has lost a major-party primary to be removed from minor-party lines on the ballot. (For example, a Democratic candidate who loses the primary but will appear on the Working Families line may want to avoid splitting the vote against the Republican.) Before the law was enacted, “candidates who lost a major primary had to die or move out of state in order to get off a minor-party line on the ballot,” said Sen. Rachel May, a Democrat from Syracuse who introduced the bill. “This led to confusion and to workarounds that were bad for democracy.” Under the law, a nominee who loses a primary has up to 10 days to remove his or her name from another party line on the ballot.
    Passed by Senate, 49-14 (Serino voted yes)
    Passed by Assembly, 146-3 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • Increasing the maximum number of voters in an election district to 2,000 from 1,150. Before the law was enacted, the limit was based on the fact that manual lever machines could only handle 1,000 votes per election. Optical scanners can read and hold up to about 4,000 ballots.
    Passed by Senate, 55-8 (Serino voted yes)
    Passed by Assembly, 148-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)
  • On July 27, Cuomo signed legislation that allows election workers to be trained online, although in-person training may still be required for specialized tasks such as operating voting machines. The law also removed a requirement that the training be completed each year; election workers still need to pass an annual exam but only need to be trained once.
    Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
    Passed by Assembly, 147-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Gas Meters
Cuomo on July 16 signed a bill making the installation of a gas meter without a permit a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. The legislation was passed in response to the potential safety hazards of clandestine installations, such as one done with plastic flex piping in Manhattan that caused an explosion in 2015 that killed two people.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 147-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Victim notification
On July 1, Cuomo signed a law that allows the state Department of Corrections to notify victims of crimes by email that their assailants have been released from prison.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 148-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Victim-advocate privilege
On July 23, Cuomo signed legislation that says legal advocates for rape or domestic violence victims are not be required to disclose anything their clients tell them, except under limited circumstances, such as if the client “reveals intent to commit a crime or a harmful act” or suspected child abuse.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 146-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Age of marriage
On July 22, Cuomo signed legislation raising the age of consent for marriage from 17 to 18. The change takes effect Aug. 22.

Passed by Senate, 61-2 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 147-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Cellphone insurance
On July 22, Cuomo signed legislation that allows credit or debit card issuers and banks to offer a benefit in which they provide coverage for the theft, loss or damage of cellphones purchased with their cards or accounts.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 150-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Animal control
On July 16, Cuomo signed legislation introduced in the Assembly by Galef that allows officers for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Putnam County to live in Dutchess or Westchester. Under state law, SPCA officers must reside in the same county in which they work. The law will allow the Putnam SPCA to expand the area where it can recruit officers.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 144-4 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Opioid fund
On June 29, Cuomo signed a law that requires funds received by the state from opioid abuse settlements with pharmaceutical companies and distributors to be “used for the intended and right purposes,” which are treatment, housing and other support services related to the epidemic. In addition, the law created an advisory board to recommend how the funds should be allocated. 

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 150-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

One thought on “How They Voted

  1. This new opioid fund law is good but doesn’t solve the ongoing epidemic. Every doctor with a prescription pad needs to be monitored stringently. How? I have no idea, but again, dealing with the aftermath instead of cutting it off at its core, will not solve the problem. Those who play free and loose with the prescription pad need to be held accountable.

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