How They Voted

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

Serino, Jacobson and Galef

Governor(s) signs round of bills passed by state legislators

Through this week, Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul had signed 428 bills passed during the 2021-22 legislative session, which began in January. Another 55 await Hochul’s signature. None has been vetoed.

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).

Solar panels

On Aug. 2, Cuomo signed legislation introduced in the Assembly by Galef that prohibits homeowners’ associations from “unreasonably” restricting the installation of rooftop solar panels. 

“Unreasonable” is defined as banning the panels from functioning at their maximum efficiency and charging fees that increase the cost of installation or maintenance by more than 10 percent. Associations can deny permission to install panels but must provide a detailed justification in writing. Similar legislation has passed in California, Arizona, Florida and Massachusetts.

Passed by Senate, 47-16 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 120-29 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Meal shaming

On July 29, Cuomo signed legislation that prohibits school districts from taking parents or guardians to court over unpaid student lunch fees. It built on a 2018 directive that required districts to submit a plan to the state that would prohibit “meal shaming” tactics, such as making students with unpaid meal charges wear stickers, announcing their names over the loudspeaker or giving them an alternative lunch, such as a cold cheese sandwich.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 118-30 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Trafficking victims

On July 28, Cuomo signed legislation that allows victims of human trafficking to sue for damages up to 15 years — rather than 10 — after the crime. If a victim was a minor, the limit is 15 years from when he or she reaches the age of consent. Disability and other factors also can lengthen the limit.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 124-24 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Child support payments

On July 30, Cuomo signed legislation making it easier for families to locate and collect unclaimed child-support payments. 

Under the previous law, if a family that was owed child support could not be located, the state had to petition a judge to allow the money to be sent to a county treasurer. It had to remain there for five years before being turned over to the “unclaimed funds” department of the state comptroller. 

Practically, this meant that it could take seven years or more for a record of the funds to be added to a public database. The new law allows the agency to skip family court and send the funds to the comptroller after two years.

Passed by Senate, 61-2 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 148-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Affordable housing

On Aug. 13, Cuomo enacted the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, which creates a system in which the state can finance the purchase and/or conversion of distressed hotels and/or office space by nonprofits to create low-income housing. 

Passed by Senate, 49-14 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 146-2 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Overdraft fees

On Aug. 20, Cuomo signed legislation regulating how banks bounce checks. If a bank receives a check for a greater amount than is in the account, it may decline payment. Under the previous law, the bank could also bounce subsequent smaller checks, even if there was enough money in the account because the larger check bounced.

Passed by Senate, 48-15 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 102-46 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

First responders

On Sept. 11, Hochul added dispatchers to the legal definition of “first responder.”

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

Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul signs bills into law on Sept. 11, including one that added dispatchers to the legal definition of “first responder.” (Governor’s Office)

Virtual meetings

On Sept. 2, Hochul signed legislation that allows local and state legislatures to continue to meet by audio or video as along as the meetings are recorded and transcribed. Cuomo had issued an emergency order because of the pandemic shutdown that allowed remote public meetings, but it expired. This new law will expire Jan. 15. The New York Coalition for Open Government noted in its opposition that the law does not require public comments to be heard or meeting videos to be posted online.

Passed by Senate, 38-19 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 81-60 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Making contractors liable

Hochul on Sept. 6 signed legislation that makes contractors on construction projects liable for wages owed to the employees of subcontractors. The law also allows contractors to demand payroll information from subcontractors and withhold payment if it is not provided.

Passed by Senate, 50-13 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 122-25 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Speeding in work zones

On Sept. 6, Hochul enacted legislation to test adding cameras to highway construction zones to record drivers who speed or violate other laws designed to protect workers.

Passed by Senate, 61-2 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 122-26 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Shared work benefits

This legislation, signed by Hochul on Sept. 6, changed the cap on “shared work” unemployment benefits from 26 consecutive weeks to 26 weeks. The program allows employees to receive partial benefits if their hours are reduced. 

Passed by Senate, 62-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 103-44 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Official sport

On July 30, Cuomo designated baseball as the official sport of the state of New York. This law was proposed by the fourth-grade class at the elementary school in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The state sport joins the state beverage, fruit, reptile and snack. (Can you name them? See below.)

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

Text spam

On June 2, Cuomo added “electronic messaging text” to the legal definition of telemarketing, effectively banning spam sent to cell phones owned by people who have opted out. 

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

Hot meals

On Monday (Oct. 4), Hochul signed legislation establishing a program that allows the homeless, elderly and disabled who are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy prepared food at participating restaurants and delis. If the plan is approved by the federal government, supporters say it will allow people who lack basic cooking facilities to receive hot meals.

Passed by Senate, 56-7 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 112-35 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Legal needles

On Thursday (Oct. 7), Hochul signed legislation that decriminalized the possession and sale of hypodermic needles and syringes to allow for “harm reduction approaches” for people suffering from addiction and reduce HIV and hepatitis transmission.

Passed by Senate, 42-21 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 98-51 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

*Milk, apple, snapping turtle, yogurt

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