Legislative and Political Action

PEOPLE StickerLegislation and politics affect us every day. Our salaries, benefits, job security, and even our jobs themselves depend on budgets and legislation passed in Washington, Albany, and in our home towns.

On this page you will find the most recent news relating to legislative and political action. Please visit the links to the right for more detailed information.

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2019 Legislation


  • This Week in Albany

    Week ending September 13, 2019

    Legislative Update – 9/11 Bills

    On the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Governor Cuomo signed the following legislation into law:

    • S.5898-D (Gaughran) / A.8278-C (Weprin):  This legislation grants a ¾ disability pension to any member of the State and Local Employee Retirement System or the Teachers’ Retirement System who becomes sick or disabled due to an illness connected with their work during the rescue, recovery, or cleanup at the World Trade Center site.
    • S.5890-A (Gounardes) / A.7819-A (Pheffer-Amato): This legislation makes it easier for volunteers at the World Trade Center site who now work for the state to file claims for sick leave by providing a process for public authorities and municipal corporations outside of New York City to obtain reimbursement for line of duty sick leave granted to their employees and allowing certain municipalities and authorities to use sick leave for qualifying World Trade Center conditions. This legislation also provides new protections for public employees who use this time from facing any adverse action from their employer.

    CSEA supported these efforts to recognize the service of those who stepped up when it was most needed.

    2020 Census

    The 24th United States Census will occur in 2020, with April 1, 2020 being Census Day. Census postcards should begin arriving in March. The 2020 Census will be the first time that forms can be filled out online, in addition to mail-in and phone options.

    Among other things, the Census is used to determine a state’s representation in Congress and is used in the redistricting of Congressional and state legislative districts. New York is currently projected to lose one or two seats in Congress.

    It is important for all residents of New York to accurately fill out their Census forms to help ensure that New York continues to have the representation we deserve in Washington, DC.


    Back on Schedule

    Now that summer vacations are over and kids are back in school, “This Week in Albany” will return to a weekly email, hitting your inbox every Friday at 5.

    • This Week in Albany

      Week ending September 6, 2019

      Senator Bill Larkin

      Former State Senator William Larkin Jr. (R-Orange County) passed away this week at the age of 91.

      Senator Larkin dedicated his life to public service. Larkin served in the Army for 23 years, including service in World War II and the Korean War. He served as New Windsor Town Supervisor before spending 12 years in the State Assembly and 28 years in the State Senate. Senator Larkin retired last year, and was one of the last World War II veterans to serve in a state legislature anywhere in the country.

      Senator Larkin was widely respected by Democrats and Republicans alike. He sponsored numerous important pieces of legislation over years, including as the main sponsor of a 2016 law to allow all veterans to purchase up to three years of pension credit for their military service.

      Senator Larkin was a long time friend to CSEA. We thank him for his service and our thoughts are with his family. He will be missed.

      Pension Fund

      Comptroller DiNapoli announced that employer contribution rates for the New York State and Local Retirement System will remain flat for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The Comptroller also lowered the long-term expected rate of return for the Common Retirement Fund from 7% to 6.8%. Because of Comptroller DiNapoli’s shrewd management of the Fund, it remains one of the best funded in the nation at 96.1%.

      Climate activists and lawmakers continue to urge the Comptroller to immediately divest the Fund from fossil fuel companies. CSEA urges the Comptroller to reject this pressure. Divestment mandates would make it more difficult for the Fund to make prudent investment decisions and would limit available growth opportunities to ensure the Fund is solvent for current and future retirees. The Common Retirement Fund has never been a tool to make political statements, and we do not believe that it should start now.

      Never Forget

      CSEA remembers the lives of all who were lost on September 11, 2001, including CSEA members Yvette Anderson, Florence Cohen, Harry Goody, Marian “Marty” Hrycak and Dorothy Temple.

      • This Week in Albany

        Week ending August 23, 2019

        Pension Fund

        Comptroller DiNapoli announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund grew by 3.38% during the first quarter of State Fiscal Year 2019-20, raising its estimated value to $216.2 billion. This outpaced the 3.27% growth for similar funds across the country over the same time period.

        Under the stewardship of Comptroller DiNapoli, the Fund continues to be one of the best funded and managed pension plans in the nation, ranking fourth in terms of funding ratio.

        Public Campaign Financing

        The Public Campaign Financing Commission, which was established in the 2019-20 state budget, met for the first time this week. The Commission is tasked with coming up with recommendations to establish a system where taxpayer funds are used to match private campaign contributions, and will also examine whether fusion voting should be eliminated. Fusion voting is the practice where one candidate can run on multiple party lines in the same election. Commission members decided that the Commission will take all recommendations up in a single vote, rather than individual votes for each issue.

        The Commission released a public hearing schedule as follows:

        • Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 4 p.m.
          Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC)
          New York City
        • Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 10 a.m.
          Rockefeller Institute of Government
          Albany
        • Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 10 a.m.
          Suffolk County Legislature, William J. Lindsay County Complex
          Smithtown
        • Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 11 a.m.
          Burchfield Penney Arts Center,
          Buffalo

        The Commission has until December 1 to make its recommendations.

        CSEA strongly opposes the creation of taxpayer-financed political campaigns. Stay tuned for more information on this issue.

        New License Plate

        A public vote on the design of New York’s next license plate was announced by Governor Cuomo this week. The design with the most votes will become the State’s official license plate beginning in April 2020.

        This will begin a 10-year replacement program where drivers with license plates that are 10-years-old or older will be issued new plates as they renew their vehicle registrations. A fee of $25 for replacement plates will be added to the cost of a registration renewal as necessary.

        You can vote on the new design here. Voting will be open through Labor Day.

        Federal Update

        CSEA is strongly supportive of HR 2328, legislation that would delay scheduled Medicaid Disproportionate Share (DSH) cuts for two years. These reductions, which go into effect on October 1, 2019, would cost hospitals $43 billion from 2022 and 2025. Specifically, New York State hospitals would lose over $5 billion during this time period. This legislation has been approved by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and CSEA is lobbying for the House and Senate to act before these cuts go into effect. Losing billions of dollars in funding would be disastrous for New York State hospitals, specifically safety-net providers such as Erie County Medical Center, Nassau University Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, and the three SUNY Hospitals in Syracuse, Brooklyn, and Stony Brook.

        Labor Day

        Labor Day is Monday, September 2. While you are enjoying your picnics, barbeques, and parades, it is important to remember what Labor Day represents. Labor Day honors the labor movement for improving the lives of hardworking Americans, their families and the communities they live in. These efforts are more important now than ever. Thank you for what you do every day to make our union, our state, and our country stronger.


        • This Week in Albany

          Week ending August 9, 2019

           

          Legislative Update

          Governor Cuomo has signed the following bills into law:

          • S.4915A – Akshar / A.7696A – Friend: This bill names a portion of the state highway system as the “Dennis ‘Matt’ Howe Memorial Highway.” Matt Howe was a CSEA-represented Department of Transportation (DOT) worker that lost his life from injuries sustained when a vehicle collided with a DOT truck in an active work zone.CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “When Matt Howe died, our union family suffered a horrible loss. On behalf of the thousands of CSEA members working in transportation, we appreciate this recognition to honor his sacrifice. As we dedicate the highway in his memory, we will rededicate our union to working with state officials to make sure our brave men and women working along our highways and roadways are as safe as possible, given the dangerous work they do. Matt and his family deserve nothing less.”
          • S.4950B – Magnarelli / A.4524B – Kennedy: This bill establishes a demonstration program for the use of school bus safety cameras to capture drivers that illegally pass a stopped school bus. CSEA strongly supports this legislation.
          • A.3425 – Dilan / S.4901 – Mayer: This bill extends anti-discrimination protections under the Human Rights Law to include public schools.
          • S.101A – Kaminsky / A.1715A – Griffin: This bill prohibits school employees, other than security personnel, from carrying a firearm on school grounds.
          • S.3971B – Savino / A.1746C – Vanel: This bill creates a temporary state commission to study artificial intelligence and automation, including the potential impact on employment.
          • S.6579A – Bailey / A.8420A – Peoples-Stokes: This bill lowers fines for unlawful possession of marijuana, allows for the possession of one ounce of marijuana, and seals any records for previous convictions of marijuana possession.


          Queens DA Race Update

          Six weeks after Election Day, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was officially declared the winner of the Democratic Primary for Queens District Attorney. Tiffany Cabán had declared victory on election night when she had a lead of about 1,100 votes but after all valid ballots were counted, Katz won by 55 votes.

          Federal Update

          President Trump has signed H.R. 1327, the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Act, into law. The legislation makes permanent the September 11 victims’ fund that provides assistance to the firefighters, police officers and other first responders who were hurt and families of those killed as the result of the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as those involved in the cleanup operations. All members of the New York Congressional delegation voted in favor of this legislation.

          AFSCME Hosts Presidential Forum

          On Saturday, August 3, AFSCME hosted a forum for candidates for President of the United States in Las Vegas. Every person running for President in 2020, including President Trump, was invited to participate. Nineteen candidates accepted the invitation and faced questions about their commitment to protecting public services and the working men and women who dedicate their lives to their communities.

          Highlights and full videos from the event can be found at https://publicserviceforum.com/

          • This Week in Albany

            Week ending July 26, 2019

            Legislative Update 

            Governor Cuomo signed the following bills into law:

            • A.8419 – Nolan / S.6578 – Ramos: Provides fair labor practices for farm workers including the right to collectively bargain, mandated rest time, overtime compensation, and unemployment insurance. CSEA strongly supported this legislation for years.
            • S.6549 – Carlucci / A.5308B – Crespo: Prohibits employers from requesting salary history as a condition of employment or promotion. This will apply to all employers in the state, including public employers, effective January 6, 2020.
            • S.5248B – Biaggi / A.8093A – McMahon: Prohibits private-sector employers from paying employees in a “protected class” less than employee not in a protected class for equal or substantially similar work. “Protected class” includes age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim.

            Tax Cap to Stay at 2% for 2020

            Comptroller DiNapoli announced that the property tax cap will remain at 2% for the 2020 fiscal year for counties, towns, fire districts, cities, and villages with a fiscal year ending on December 31.

            While often referred to as a 2% cap, the property tax cap was essentially at zero percent for a number of years and municipalities had their tax levy growth capped at less than 2% from 2014-2018. 2020 marks only the second year that the cap has been at 2%. Additionally, the Comptroller warned local governments that mixed economic signals may change financial conditions, and local officials should “remain vigilant when crafting their budgets.”
            Federal Update

            “Cadillac Tax”

            The House of Representatives voted to repeal the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health insurance plans. All members of the New York House of Representatives delegation voted in favor of this legislation. CSEA supports repealing this tax.

            The tax, which affects many union health insurance plans, would require insurance companies to pay a 40% tax on the value of a health insurance plan above $30,150 for families and $11,200 for individuals beginning in 2022. This tax would make your health insurance more expensive and encourage employers to shift more health insurance costs to workers.

            The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.


            Minimum Wage

            The House also voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour, has not been increased since 2009. This drought between increases, already the longest since the minimum wage was established in 1938, is likely to continue as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has said that the Senate will not take up the measure.
            Spending / Debt Ceiling Deal

            White House and congressional leaders announced a deal to lift the nation’s debt limit and dramatically raise federal spending levels. The agreement, negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is expected to clear both chambers before the August recess.

            Under the deal, the Pentagon’s budget would increase to $738 billion next fiscal year — a $22 billion increase. In addition, non-defense spending, including funding for many programs that are operated by state and local governments, would increase to $632 billion — a $27 billion increase.