Last-minute edition

On Dec. 30, the final business day of 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul enacted 25 bills passed during the 2021-22 legislative session.

That brought the number of bills signed by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Hochul from the session, which ended in June, to 1,608. Another 88 await Hochul’s signature, and 197 have been vetoed.

Below are summaries of select laws and the votes cast by the three lawmakers who at the time represented the Highlands: Sen. Sue Serino, Assembly Member Sandy Galef (Philipstown) and Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson (Beacon).

Last week, we noted that legislators had voted to raise their annual salaries by $32,000, to $142,000 annually, as of Jan. 1. The measure, which includes limits on the outside income that legislators can earn starting in 2025, passed in the Senate, 33-23 (Serino voted no) and in the Assembly, 81-52 (Galef voted yes and Jacobson voted no). The governor approved the legislation at 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 31.

The 2023-24 session began Wednesday (Jan. 4).

Contractor registration
On Dec. 30, Hochul signed legislation that creates a registration system for contractors and subcontractors that bid on state-funded projects.

This will allow the Department of Labor to better track bidders who have violated labor laws, workers’ compensation requirements or not paid “prevailing wages.” The legislation is designed, its sponsors say, “to prevent bad actors from receiving contracts in the first place.”

Passed by Senate, 53-10 | Serino No
Passed by Assembly, 147-2 | Galef  Yes Jacobson Yes

Vaccine privacy
On Dec. 30, Hochul enacted a law that protects information in the state Immunization Information System and New York City’s Immunization Registry from being released during such legal proceedings as discovery or in response to a subpoena or warrant in civil, administrative, criminal or family court proceedings.

Passed by Senate, 63-0 | Serino Yes
Passed by Assembly, 144-0 | Galef  Yes  Jacobson Yes

Mental health
On Dec. 30, Hochul signed a law that requires blanket health policies to include coverage for outpatient mental-health treatment by state-licensed counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, creative arts therapists and psychoanalysts, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists.

Passed by Senate, 61-0 | Serino Yes
Passed by Assembly, 110-39 | Galef  Yes  Jacobson Yes

[Update: In a signing memo, Hochul removed creative arts therapists from the language of the law, citing the potential cost to the state. The New York Art Therapy Association, which has members in the Highlands, called that argument “inaccurate” and said the change “will have a significant and highly detrimental impact on the availability of affordable mental health services.”]

Human composting
On Dec. 30, Hochul enacted legislation that allows the creation and operation of “natural organic reduction facilities” for the “accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.” The process involves placing a corpse in an above-ground container until it naturally decomposes over about six weeks into soil. It was legalized in Washington state in 2019, where a Seattle funeral home called Recompose has pioneered the method. New York is the sixth state to legalize the process.

Passed by Senate, 61-2 | Serino Yes
Passed by Assembly, 98-52 | Galef  Yes  Jacobson Yes

Nurse overtime
On Dec. 30, Hochul signed legislation that creates a mechanism to fine employers who force nurses to work overtime except in emergencies. Along with a penalty of up to $3,000 for each violation, the law requires that the nurse be paid an additional 15 percent of the overtime payments in damages. The law goes into effect on Feb. 28.

Passed by Senate, 55-8 | Serino Yes
Passed by Assembly, 120-24 | Galef  Yes  Jacobson 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.