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 January 10, 2020

    State of the State

    This week, Governor Cuomo gave his 10th “State of the State” address.

    The Governor’s speech focused on proposals to:

    • Lower prescription drug prices by: 1) establishing a commission to study the importation of prescription drugs from Canada; and 2) capping co-payments for insulin;
    • Establish a statewide system of paid sick leave, although the details are uncertain at this time;
    • Cut taxes for businesses;
    • Propose a $3 billion environmental bond act to fund environmental projects;
    • Legalize adult-use recreational marijuana;
    • Require automatic manual recounts in close elections;
    • Ban single-use Styrofoam food containers;
    • Make the “New York Buy American” Act Permanent. The current law requires that all structural steel and iron used in state road and bridge construction projects worth more than $1 million to be made in America; and
    • Develop a new strategy to bring high speed rail to New York State.

    The Governor did not specify how the state’s $6 billion deficit will be addressed.

    Additional proposals will be presented during his budget presentation later in January.

    Kolb Out As Minority Leader

    New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Ontario County) resigned his leadership post late last week following a New Year’s Eve arrest for suspected DWI. Kolb had served as the leader of the Republican conference since 2009.

    This week, Assembly Republicans selected Will Barclay (R-Oswego County) to replace Kolb as leader. CSEA endorsed Barclay during his last run for his 120th District seat in 2018.

    Ken LaValle to Retire

    Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) became the latest state senator to announce that he will not seek re-election later this year. LaValle was the long-time chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and supported CSEA on many issues over the years.

    LaValle, who is 80, is the longest serving member of the Senate. We wish him the best of luck in retirement.

    At a Glance

    The legislature will be in session for three days next week in Albany. Governor Cuomo’s 2020-21 Executive Budget proposal is due by January 21.

    Census Fact of the Week

    According to the NYS Complete Count Commission, nearly 5 million New Yorkers have been estimated to be part of a hard-to-count community. As labor and community leaders, it is critical that CSEA members help make sure that all New Yorkers are counted this year!

    • TWIA

      *Click the image to view “This Decade in Albany”*

      Every Friday, “This Week in Albany” brings you the biggest legislative and political news from the preceding week. Over the past decade, there have been many major issues of importance to CSEA members – some positive, and some negative.

      In this special production, we take a look at how “This Week in Albany” covered the 10 biggest stories of the 2010s.

      Thank you for sticking with us this past 10 years, and we look forward to what we can all do together over the next 10.

      In solidarity,

      The CSEA Legislative & Political Action Department

      *Click the image to view “This Decade in Albany”*

      • This Week in Albany

        Week ending December 20, 2019

        Federal Update

        Congress avoided a government shutdown this week by passing a $1.4 trillion spending plan that will keep the government funded through the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

        The deal  includes some major policy provisions, including a permanent repeal of the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” The Cadillac tax was a 40 percent tax on high-value health benefits that would have drastically increased health insurance costs for many union members. The tax was initially slated to go into effect in 2020 but had been delayed multiple times. CSEA thanks Senator Chuck Schumer and the entire New York Congressional delegation for advocating for the repeal of the tax.

        Legislative Update 

        The following bills have been acted on by the Governor:

        • S.183B – Serrano / A.7675A – Burke (Support): This bill requires The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to issue a report justifying the permanent closure of any property at least 6 months before the proposed closure. Chapter 585
        • S.1665 – Brooks / A.5406 – Darling (Support): This legislation transfers the Freeport Armory to the Village of Freeport. The Village intends to use the Armory for a new DPW facility. Chapter 618
        • S.5291 – Gounardes / A.7248 – Abbate (CSEA priority bill): This bill would have provided Section 80 rights to all labor class and non-competitive employees. Veto #222
        • S.5941 – Carlucci / A.7611 – Gunther (CSEA priority bill): This legislation would have required OMH to continue to provide monthly reports. Veto #188
        • S.5315 – Carlucci / A.7199 – Gunther (CSEA priority bill): This legislation would have required OPWDD to give 90 days notice prior to “suspending” services at a state-operated IRA. Veto #223 The State is still required to provide 90 days notice prior to the closure or transfer of an IRA.
        • S.1720 – Ramos / A.6157 – Titus (CSEA priority bill): This bill would have expanded the current law that requires public employers to develop and implements workplace violence programs to all public schools. Veto #209
        • S.6048 – Breslin / A.5459 – Bronson (Support): This legislation would have required a cost-benefit review before a state agency uses consulting services instead of state employees. Veto #230

        For a summary of what happened with CSEA’s priority bills in 2019, visit our website.

        2020 State of the State 

        Governor Cuomo announced that the 2020 State of the State address will be held on Wednesday, January 8, the same date as the first day of the 2020 legislative session.

        Senate GOP Retirements Continue

        Two more Republican state senators announced that they will not run in 2020, joining the growing list of Republicans in the senate that have announced they will not seek re-election. At least eight seats held by Republicans in 2019 will be open seats for the 2020 elections.

        Rochester-area State Senators Joe Robach (R-Greece) and Rich Funke (R-Perinton) each announced that they will not run next year. Each Senator has a long track record of supporting CSEA members. We thank them for their service and wish them the best of luck in retirement.

        Census Fact of the Week 

        It is estimated that only 69% of New Yorkers were counted during the 2010 Census. The national average was 76%. We must do better in 2020!

        • This Week in Albany

          Week ending December 6, 2019

          State Facing Large Deficit

          New York is facing its largest budget deficit since the Great Recession, according to a report from the Division of the Budget.

          The State’s mid-year budget update showed that the state is facing a $6.1 billion budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The majority of that shortfall is attributed to a $4 billion deficit in Medicaid.

          The projected deficit will undoubtedly have a major impact on the 2020-21 state budget and the 2020 legislative session. CSEA is closely monitoring this situation, so stay tuned for more information.

          Public Campaign Finance Report Released

          The Campaign Finance Reform Commission, established in the 2019-20 state budget, released its report on December 1. The recommendations of the Commission carry the force of law unless changed by the legislature.

          Major recommendations from the Commission include:

          • Establishing a system for publicly financing elections for statewide (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller), and state legislative races. These provisions go into effect for the 2024 legislative elections and 2026 statewide elections.
            • Under this program, private contributions up to $250 will be matched by public dollars at varying rates.
            • Candidates for statewide office will receive $6 in public funds for every $1 in private contributions.
            • State legislative candidates will receive matching funds at a rate of $12:1 for the first $50, 9:1 for $51-$150, and 8:1 for $151-$250. Only contributions made from within the district can be matched.
            • The program will cost up to $100 million per year.
          • Increasing the threshold for a political party to automatically receive a ballot line. Currently, a party must receive 50,000 votes in each gubernatorial election to have a guaranteed spot on the ballot. Under the new system a party will need at least 2% of the vote or 130,000 votes, whichever is higher, in each of the gubernatorial and presidential elections to maintain their ballot position. These provisions go into effect for 2020.

          If unaltered by an agreement between the Governor and legislature by December 22, these recommendations will have the force of law.

          Growing List of Legislators Not Running in 2020

          State Senators George Amedore (R-Rotterdam), Betty Little (R-Queensbury), and Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) announced that they will not run for re-election in 2020. They join a growing list of state legislators that will not be seeking re-election next year either because of retirement or seeking another office.

          Census Fact of the Week

          Each person that is not counted costs New York $2,000 per year for a decade. This means less funding for healthcare, education, housing, transportation and other services.

          • This Week in Albany

            Week ending November 22, 2019

            2020 Census

            The 24th United States Census will occur in 2020. Postcards with instructions on how to fill out the Census will begin arriving in March, and every household should receive a postcard by April 1. The 2020 Census will be the first time that forms can be filled out online, in addition to mail-in and phone options.

            The Census is so important because it is used to determine how much federal funding a state receives for certain programs as well as a state’s representation in Congress.

            Over the next several months, CSEA will be conducting an education campaign on the importance of participating in the Census and how important an accurate count is to the lives and work lives of CSEA members.

            Legislative Update

            CSEA successfully advocated for Governor Cuomo to sign the following priority bills into law:

            • A.1093B – Paulin / S.5285A – Brooks
              This legislation authorizes local governments to offer employees who are combat veterans with additional leave time for health services relating to their military service. State employees previously received this benefit in April 2019. Local governments must adopt a resolution or local law in order for an employee to be eligible for this benefit. This law will go into effect in 120 days. Thank you to all CSEA members who made phone calls to the Governor’s office about this bill.
            • S.5705 – Mayer / A.7538A – Benedetto
              This legislation ensures that school bus drivers and monitors are included in district-wide and building-level school safety teams. This law went into effect immediately.

            Long Time Assemblymember Announces Retirement

            State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore) has announced that he will not run for re-election next year. Schimminger was first elected to the Assembly in 1976 and has chaired the Assembly’s Economic Development committee for two decades.

            Federal Update

            Congress avoided a government shutdown this week by passing a short-term extension of federal funding through December 20. Congress now has a month to develop a longer-term spending agreement.