How They Voted

Governor signs round of bills passed by state legislators

Through this week, Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul had signed 630 bills passed during the 2021-22 legislative session, which began in January. Another 23 await Hochul’s signature. Twenty have 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).

Gun violence research

On Nov. 8, Hochul signed a bill that creates the State Firearm Violence Research Institute, which will document “science-backed solutions to gun violence” such as has been done with other concerns such as motor vehicle accidents, cancer, heart disease and tobacco consumption.

Passed by Senate, 44-19 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 125-24 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Hochul also signed a law allowing residents to make contributions to the institute on their state income tax returns.

Passed by Senate, 49-14 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 124-25 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Bans on Grade 6, coal tar

On Nov. 8, Hochul enacted legislation that bans the use of Grade 6 heating oil in building and facilities, based on studies that found its combustion forms soot that creates pollution and contributes to respiratory illnesses. The ban goes into effect July 1, 2023.

Passed by Senate, 61-2 Serino (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 147-1 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

The governor also signed a bill banning the use of pavement products that contain coal tar, which contains carcinogens and can injure wildlife exposed through runoff. Sales will be banned as of Nov. 8, 2022, and use will be prohibited as of Nov. 8, 2023.

Passed by Senate, 46-16 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 106-41 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Reassessments

On Nov. 10, Hochul enacted a law introduced by Galef in the Assembly that gives towns, cities, villages and counties the ability to adopt a two-year phase-in option for reassessment increases on certain residential properties. Galef noted that state law does not require municipalities to conduct regular property value assessments for tax purposes, and some have not done so in decades. (In Westchester County, she noted, 16 municipalities have not reassessed properties since 1974.) That means when they get around to it, there can be “jarring and sudden” tax increases for homeowners. The law allows municipalities to phase these increases in over two years on properties that are eligible for the STAR exemption and do not owe any back taxes.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 145-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Debt collection

On Nov. 8, Hochul signed the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, which reduces the time that a creditor can began legal action over consumer debt from six years to three years and requires more stringent notification and documentation, including the original contract and information about any sale or assignment of the debt.

Before a judge can issue a default judgment because the defendant doesn’t appear in court, the creditor is now required to provide affidavits from each person who has owned the debt. The previous law allowed debt collectors to provide minimal information, according to the bill’s sponsors.

Passed by Senate, 43-20 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 103-45 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Veteran benefits

On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), Hochul signed laws that were each supported by Serino, Galef and Jacobson to:

Change the official start of the Vietnam War from Feb. 28, 1961, to Nov. 1, 1955, to conform with the date used by the federal government in determining who qualifies as a veteran of the conflict.

Allow people to receive unemployment benefits if they quit a job because their military spouse was transferred.

Create a 12-member Women Veterans Advisory Committee to identify, educate and advocate for women veterans.

Require intake forms for nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and homeless shelters to ask whether the individual or his or her spouse ever served in the military, to assist in getting benefits.

Authorize counties to require ferries to provide free passage to members of the armed forces in uniform during their enlistment.

Robocalls

On Nov. 8, Hochul signed a law that requires telecommunication companies to proactively block “robocalls” from caller-ID numbers that are likely fake, e.g., they do not or cannot make outgoing calls.

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

Hochul also signed a bill that requires voice-service providers to use an authentication method called STIR/SHAKEN to validate that calls are coming from the number displayed. The technology also makes it much easier to trace robocalls to their source.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 (Serino voted yes)
Passed by Assembly, 147-2 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Used-car airbags

Hochul on Nov. 7 enacted a law that requires that used cars have functioning airbags when sold at retail. The act was named for Anthony Amoros, an 18-year-old resident of Rockland County who died in 2013 in a crash after he purchased a car without knowing it had no airbags. Under the law, buyers must be given written certification that a used vehicle has functioning airbags.

Passed by Senate, 47-16 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 147-2 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

Public minutes

On Nov. 8, Hochul enacted a statute that requires public bodies such as town, village and city councils to post online within 14 days the minutes, a video recording, an audio recording and/or a transcript of each meeting. Under the previous law, minutes only had to be “available if requested” within 14 days. The New York Coalition for Open Government said it welcomed the law but that public bodies should be compelled to post written minutes, in part because many people are hearing impaired, and also to have a record of attendance, motions made and votes taken without requiring people to revisit the meeting on video or audio.

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

Trafficking victims

In 2010, a state law was enacted that allows victims of sex trafficking, labor trafficking and forced prostitution to request any prostitution-related convictions be removed from their records. On Nov. 16, Hochul signed legislation that expanded the law to include any crime tied to trafficking. The example cited by the bill’s sponsors is a conviction for carrying false identification.

Passed by Senate, 43-20 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 150-0 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes) 

Utility names

On Nov. 16, Hochul signed a law that requires utility companies, municipalities, waterworks corporations and telephone service providers to allow customers to use their preferred name and pronouns.

Passed by Senate, 46-17 (Serino voted no)
Passed by Assembly, 99-48 (Galef voted yes; Jacobson voted yes)

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