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Legislative and Political Action

CSEA's Legislative & Political Action Department analyzes proposed legislation for its impact on members, works to advance beneficial legislation and stop harmful legislation and works with members and activists to support the campaigns of elected officials who share our values.
This Week in Albany - March 13, 2020

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Coronavirus Becomes the Focus

Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak became the focus of the federal, state, and local governments this week.

In New York:

  • Governor Cuomo announced that the state will guarantee two full weeks of paid leave for all state workers who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine. CSEA is continuing to work with the state and local governments to ensure that members are held harmless for any actions taken to respond to the virus;
  • Most classes at SUNY and CUNY campuses will be shifted to distance learning for the remainder of the Spring semester – campuses are expected to remain open to varying degrees. SUNY employees can click here for more information;
  • Gatherings of more 500 or more people have been banned. This included a shutdown of most Broadway theatres on Thursday night;
  • The state implemented a “containment area” around New Rochelle, which has become a hot-spot for the virus; and
  • Many St. Patrick’s Day parades, including the New York City parade, have been postponed or cancelled.

Additionally, stock markets cratered this week, officially entering “bear market” territory on Wednesday and posting the worst single day drop since 1987 on Thursday. This financial uncertainty has, among other concerns, thrown a wrench into the works of the state budget. Governor Cuomo has asked Comptroller DiNapoli to revisit revenue projections and their impact on the preparation of a budget by next week.

At the federal level:

  • President Trump called for a ban on European travelers entering the country for 30 days during a prime time Oval Office address on Wednesday and on Friday declared a National State of Emergency; and
  • Congress is working on a package of legislation to address the crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in negotiations over the package on Thursday and Friday. At the time of this email, the House is expected to pass a bill at some point on Friday. These conversations are said to include proposals like paid sick leave and expanded unemployment insurance, tax credits to small and medium-sized businesses, free access to coronavirus testing, and more. It is unclear what action will be taken in the Senate, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) sent his members home for the weekend.

Stay tuned for more information on this developing story.

An Important Message to All CSEA Members

CSEA President Mary Sullivan issued the following message to all CSEA members:

All of our CSEA members, both public and private, are on the front lines delivering necessary services to the citizens of our state every day.

As such, many of you have direct contact with the public every day. Some of our members are working to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, or may be in situations where potential exposure risks exist because of your work. We want you to know the facts and be diligent in following the established protocols.

CSEA has one of the finest Occupational Safety and Health Departments of any union across the country, and I have tasked them with providing you the most accurate information and resources. They have created a web site specifically dealing with Coronavirus and how it may impact you as workers. We are updating this site on a regular basis as the situation changes throughout our state. For the latest information, please visit our page at:https://cseany.org/coronavirus-information

I encourage all of you to follow best practices for you and your families and to be safe.

In Unionism,

Mary E. Sullivan
President, CSEA

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in Albany for three days next week. The state budget is due by April 1. At this time, it is unclear how or if the COVID-19 outbreak will impact this timeline or the remainder of the legislative session.

Census Fact of the Week

Households should begin receiving their Census notification next week.

At this time, when social distancing is being promoted as the best way to prevent the spread of disease, we urge CSEA members to fill out their Census form online. Not only is this the easiest way to fill out the Census, but it will also limit the number of home visits Census workers will have to conduct and help to promote public health.

Learn more about the Census on CSEA’s website.

This Week in Albany - March 6, 2020

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Legislative Update

CSEA applauds Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) and the entire New York State Senate for unanimously passing one of CSEA’s priority bills this week.

S.6094A – Kennedy: Two CSEA-represented workers lost their lives in work zones last year, and it has been 15 years since major work zone safety legislation was passed in New York. This bill would expand protections in work zones by sharply increasing fines for endangering a highway worker and would direct a majority of revenues collected from such fines to making work zones safer. The bill also calls for expanded efforts around public education and outreach on work zone safety. Passed the Senate / Currently in Assembly Transportation Committee (A.8208 – Magnarelli)

In addition to supporting this stand-alone bill, CSEA is strongly advocating for the provisions of this bill to be included in the state budget.

Budget Update

The Senate, Assembly, and Executive have agreed to a revenue forecast that is $700 million above the Executive Budget estimate. This agreement is an important first step towards a final state budget, as all sides have agreed on the baseline total revenue available.

The Senate and Assembly are expected to release their “one-house” versions of the budget in the next two weeks, which lay out each house’s priorities in budget negotiations.

A final budget agreement is due by April 1.

Coronavirus Update

There are currently more than 200 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the U.S., which includes at least 33 in New York State.

This week, the New York State Legislature passed a $40 million appropriation to help the state and local governments combat the virus. The Governor has signed this appropriation into law. In addition, the State will require health insurers to waive cost sharing, like co-pays, associated with testing for novel Coronavirus including emergency room, urgent care and office visits.

On the federal level, Congress has passed an $8.3 billion proposal to help states and the federal government stop the spread of the virus. The President signed the spending bill on Friday.

While there is currently no vaccine for the novel Coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts can answer questions regarding the Coronavirus. CSEA members can find more information on the virus on our website.

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in Albany for two days next week. There are 12 session days scheduled before the state budget is due on April 1.

Census Fact of the Week

Households should begin receiving instructions on how to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census beginning next week (March 12).

Ensuring that all New Yorkers are accurately counted is vitally important. To help raise awareness of the Census and to encourage CSEA members to fill out their forms as soon as possible, CSEA will be giving away seven Apple iPads to members that complete their Census form.

Beginning April 1, we invite CSEA members and Retiree Division members who have completed their census form to visit cseany.org/census to enter for a chance to win a new Apple iPad! Seven winners (one from each CSEA region and one from the Retiree Division) will be drawn on July 31.

To be eligible to win, you must be a CSEA member or Retiree Division member. Visitcseany.org/census after April 1st for more information and to register to win!

 

This Week in Albany - February 28, 2020

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Legislative Update

Two of CSEA’s priority bills began to move through the legislature this week. Click the bill numbers to see CSEA’s memoranda in support of these bills.

S.6094A – Kennedy: Two CSEA-represented workers lost their lives in work zones last year, and it has been 15 years since major work zone safety legislation was passed in New York. This bill would expand protections in work zones by sharply increasing fines for endangering a highway worker and would direct a majority of revenues collected from such fines to making work zones safer. The bill also calls for expanded efforts around public education and outreach on work zone safety. This bill moved out of the Senate Transportation Committee and is currently on the Senate floor.

A.7581A – Jaffee: Currently, state law does not limit the number of active investigations each CPS worker may have at one time. Some counties have average caseloads as high as 70 per month, exponentially higher than the recommended level of 12 active cases per month. This bill would establish workload standards for child protective services (CPS) workers to ensure that CPS staff can fully and properly investigate cases and to help reduce high turnover and low morale among CPS workers. This bill moved out of the Assembly Children & Families Committee to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.

In addition to supporting these stand-alone bills, CSEA is strongly advocating for these provisions to be included in the 2020-21 state budget. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

More Legislators Not Running

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) announced this week that he will not seek re-election in the fall. Crespo, who chairs the Assembly’s Labor Committee, has served in the legislature since 2009. The Assemblyman has been a strong ally of CSEA during his time in Albany, and we wish him luck in his endeavors.

Additionally, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-North Hempstead) will not seek re-election. D’Urso was elected to the Assembly in 2016.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days in Albany next week.

The Senate and Assembly are each working on developing their “one-house” versions of the budget, which are expected to be released within the next few weeks. These versions of the budget represent what an ideal state budget would look like for each house. From that point, the two houses work with the Governor to negotiate a final budget.

Census Fact of the Week

As a CSEA member, you can play an important role in ensuring that every New Yorker is counted in the 2020 Census.

The work performed by CSEA members provides unique access to harder-to-reach and vulnerable populations, including immigrants, children, and the elderly. These efforts so far have included outreach from CSEA-represented child care providers to the populations they serve, efforts to educate immigrant populations where CSEA members live and work, and continuous conversations with CSEA retirees.

 

 

This Week in Albany - February 21, 2020

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State Budget Update

State budget negotiations will begin to pick up when the legislature returns to Albany on Monday.

Governor Cuomo released amendments to his budget proposal this week. Over the next five weeks, the legislature will debate the Governor’s plan, develop their own proposals, and negotiate towards a final budget agreement by April 1.

Stay tuned for updates on important developments throughout this process.

Federal Budget Proposal

Last week, President Trump released his $4.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.

The budget proposal calls for a 5.1% cut to nondefense spending, including cuts and reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, roads and bridges, clean water infrastructure, and more. The budget would also extend for 10 years the tax cuts enacted in 2017.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days in Albany next week.

Census Fact of the Week

The Census is fast approaching! See the timeline below to see what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

  • March 12 – 20: Households will receive notification to respond to the Census online
  • March 16 – April 3: Reminder postcards / letters will be sent out
  • April 1: Census Day – Events will be held across the state to raise awareness of the Census
  • May – July: Census Bureau workers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted
This Week In Albany - February 14, 2020

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Governor Calls Special Elections

Governor Cuomo has called special elections for April 28th for the following seats:

  • Congressional District 27 (Former Chris Collins seat);
  • Assembly District 12 (Former Andrew Raia seat);
  • Assembly District 31 (Former Michelle Titus seat);
  • Assembly District 136 (Former Jamie Romeo seat); and
  • Senate District 50 (Former Robert Antonacci seat).

April 28th is also the day of the Presidential Primary in New York.

More Legislators Leave Office

State Assemblyman David Gantt (D-Rochester) announced that he will not run for re-election in November. Gantt has served in the Assembly since 1983.

State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) also announced that he will not seek re-election. Kolb stepped down as Assembly Minority Leader last month following a New Year’s Eve arrest for suspected DWI.

Governor Cuomo recently appointed Assemblymember Jamie Romeo (D-Irondequoit) as Monroe County clerk. Romeo will fill the remaining term of Adam Bello, who was elected County Executive in 2019, and will be on the ballot again later in the year.

At a Glance

State legislators will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on February 24. The state budget is due by April 1.

Census Fact of the Week

Census employees will never ask for your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account information, political party affiliation, or citizenship status. Also, it is illegal for them to disclose any personal information.

This Week In Albany - February 7, 2020

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CSEA Testifies at Joint Budget Hearing

CSEA Director of Legislative and Political Action Fran Turner presented testimony this week on the 2020-21 Executive Budget proposal to the State Senate Finance Committee and State Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

CSEA’s testimony focused on concerns  about the potential negative effect on CSEA members and those who need services the most, especially with impending Medicaid reforms and spending cuts. The testimony also addressed State Operations, the Unified Court System, retirees, child care providers, highway workers, and CPS caseworkers.

A copy of CSEA’s testimony can be viewed here.

Another Retirement

The list of retiring legislators continues to grow, as Assemblyman Gary Finch (R-Springport) announced this week that he will not seek re-election in the fall.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week. Joint legislative budget hearings will be held on local governments, education, public protection, economic development, and taxes.

Deadline Approaching to Change Party Registration for 2020 Primaries

The deadline to change your party enrollment for any 2020 primary election is February 14.

In New York, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. Changes submitted after next Friday, February 14 will not take effect until June 30th.

Census Fact of the Week

Beginning on March 20, the U.S. Census Bureau will post an interactive map, updated daily at 3pm, showing where Census forms have been received. This map will give a live picture of where Census responses are high, and what areas are lacking.

More information on the Census can be found at census.gov.

This Week In Albany - January 24, 2020

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Governor Releases 2020-21 Executive Budget Proposal

Governor Cuomo released his Fiscal Year 2020-21 Executive Budget this week.

The State is facing a $6 billion deficit for the next fiscal year which will force lawmakers to make tough choices.

The following is a preliminary summary of what is included in the Executive Budget of importance to CSEA members. Please visit the CSEA website for additional details going forward. The budget needs to be adopted by the start of the state fiscal year on April 1, 2020.

Facility Closures / Mergers

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

The budget proposes the closure of the Youth Leadership Academy in Delaware County. OCFS has said that they will be providing the statutorily required one-year notice and that they anticipate that all employees will be placed in other OCFS facilities or in other state agencies.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

The budget would allow for the closure of an undetermined number of correctional facilities with only 90 days’ notice. In addition, the budget would allow for DOCCS to transfer adolescent offenders to OCFS. Adolescent offenders are youths under the age of 21 who have been convicted as adults and are serving a sentence in a DOCCS facility, albeit in a unit that is for youths only.

Bridge Authority / Thruway Authority

The budget proposes the merger of the Bridge Authority into the Thruway Authority. CSEA is examining this proposal and any potential affects that it may have on CSEA members in both authorities.

Unified Court System (UCS)

The Executive Budget includes a proposal from the Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to restructure New York’s court system.

SUNY

The budget would allow SUNY colleges and universities to increase their tuition by $200 per year through FY25. SUNY Community Colleges base aid is held flat, which actually results in a cut due to declining enrollment.

The three SUNY hospitals would see a cut of $230 million in disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding but would each receive $50 million in capital funding.

Highway Workers

The budget proposes new protections for highway workers by creating new crimes of assault on a highway worker, intrusion into an active work zone, and menacing a highway worker. While CSEA is supportive of these measures, we will also lobby for additional protections and programs to better protect workers in active work zones.

Environmental Bond Act

The budget includes language for a bond act to be voted on in the November 2020 election. The bond would be $3 billion to fund two new state parks and various other environmental programs and projects.

Local Governments

For Local Governments, Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) is flat funded but some communities are losing money due to changes in the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) assistance payments. This will result in a total reduction of $9.3 million to: 1) the counties of Erie, Genesee, Oneida, Ontario, Saratoga, and Sullivan; 2) the cities of Batavia and Saratoga Springs; 3) the towns of Hamburg, Vernon, Farmington, and Thompson; 4) the villages of Vernon and Monticello.

The budget proposes to allow counties to jointly maintain a county jail pursuant to a shared services agreement.

Funding for local roads and bridges is cut by $65 million due to the elimination of the Extreme Winter Recovery funding included in last year’s budget.

Medicaid

Regarding Medicaid, which is driving much of the $6 billion deficit, the budget proposes to require that local social service districts keep their budgets within the property tax cap and keep their Medicaid growth below 3%. If they do not do this, the State will require these districts to pay for any increased Medicaid costs above 3%.

In addition, the Governor reconstitutes the Medicaid Redesign Team in order to find $2.5 billion in recurring Medicaid savings that hold local governments and consumers harmless.

Schools and Libraries

School districts are proposed to receive a $826 million increase (3%). Funding for libraries is cut by $5 million and construction for libraries is lowered by $20 million.

Direct Care Workers

Direct care not-for-profit employees will receive their 2% COLA for April 1, 2020 that was in the budget last year.

Child Care

Funding for child care subsidies is held flat.

Retirees

The budget recycles previous proposals attacking retiree health insurance. The proposals would cap the Medicare Part B premium reimbursement for State retirees at $144.60 effective April 1, 2020. In addition, it would complete eliminate the IRMAA reimbursement for State retirees effective 1/1/2021. Lastly, it would create a tier 2 retiree health insurance plan for employees hired on or after 10/1/2020. Under this plan, the state’s contribution would be based on the salary grade of when a person retired and how many years of service they had.

Sick Leave

The budget proposes guaranteed sick leave for private sector employees. Under the proposal employers with 1-4 employees would have to give 5 unpaid sick days annually; for employers with 5-99 employees, 5 days paid; and for employers with 99 or more employees, 7 days paid. There is no carveout for workplaces with a collective bargaining agreement.

Stay tuned for more information on these proposals and more as we continue to review the budget proposal.

Another Senator Won’t Run

In what has seemingly become a weekly tradition, another member of the state senate has announced that they will not seek re-election this year.

Senator James Seward (R-Milford) became the latest Senator to announce that he will not seek re-election this fall. Seward, who has served for 34 years in the Senate, announced earlier thisyear that he was receiving treatment for cancer.

Seward was the long-time chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, and worked well with CSEA on many issues. We wish him a long and healthy retirement.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week. Joint legislative budget hearings on the Executive Budget will begin next week with hearings focused on environmental conservation, transportation, health, and human services. CSEA will testify at the February 5 hearing on the state workforce.

Census Fact of the Week

Counting for the 2020 Census officially began this week, as Census Bureau workers trekked to Toksook Bay, Alaska to begin counting residents. While counting for most Americans won’t begin until March, it is easier for Census Bureau workers to reach Alaska’s remote populations in January, when the ground is frozen and easier to travel.

 

This Week In Albany - January 10, 2020

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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!

This Week In Albany - December 10, 2019

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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!