Syracuse, NY – Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) is pleased to announce the passage of eight of her bills in the Senate. These bills cover a wide range of issues and topics as we come to the end of the legislative calendar for 2021.
- S.659 relates to agreements for renewable energy development rights on reforestation areas. Existing law grants the State the right to enter into oil and gas leases on the State’s 600,000 acres of reforestation lands, but no such authority is granted for renewable energy installations. This has caused delays in completion and connectivity for large scale wind and solar projects like the Cassadaga Wind Project in Western New York and has prohibited these clean energy projects directly on state lands of this type. By allowing DEC to make leases or agreements for siting and connectivity of renewable energy installations across state reforestation lands, this bill removes the current barrier for transmission and distribution of electricity for these types of projects on reforestation lands or when connection across state lands is needed. This bill will help us implement the goals of the Climate Law (CLCPA) and open up new opportunities for siting renewable installations in areas of the state where there is ample space and resources for them.
- S.6526 amends the definition of social adult day services to include community or home settings which are pursuant to a person-centered service plan. This proposal would provide flexibility to allow adult day services to be provided in a congregate, community, or home setting to combat loneliness/social isolation, support social determinants of health, provide caregivers with needed respite, and support working caregivers for programs funded and administered by NYSOFA and/or the Area Agencies on Aging. Social Adult Day services provide a lifeline for many older New Yorkers, especially those with disabilities or immigrants facing language barriers. These are places they can find companionship, get personal care and supervision, receive case management, translation assistance and help with documents and other needs. They have been critical for helping get people vaccinated in the pandemic. This bill will allow them to continue delivering services remotely whenever congregate services are not an option.
- S.6465A extends a credit for permits and licenses issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages at the 2020 New York State Fair to the 2021 New York State Fair. The 2020 New York State fair was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This event annually draws over one million people to Central New York. However, as a consequence of this cancellation, countless businesses and individuals lost a great deal of revenue and income. Among them are vendors that had been issued a temporary license to sell alcoholic beverages at the 2020 New York State fair, but could not use them. Recently, it was announced that the 2021 New York State fair will take place. This bill will accommodate vendors who could not use their permits to sell alcohol in 2020 by granting them credits to cover the cost of their permits for the 2021 New York State fair.
- S.4435A requires members of a board of trustees of public, free association, and Indian libraries to complete two hours of trustee education annually. Over 6,000 library trustees in New York State are responsible for governing 756 local public libraries with 1,100 facilities. Library trustees are required by law to be good stewards of $1.4 billion in public and private annual income and several billion dollars of critical public assets such as library buildings and equipment. New York is a diverse state and the scope of this responsibility is wide ranging, from diverse urban libraries serving millions of people with budgets over $100 million to rural libraries serving small, geographically isolated communities with budgets of less than $10,000. Regardless of the size of the community, size of the library, or size of the library’s budget, library board members need basic training. Library governance grows increasingly more complex every year, and library board members need training throughout their service in order to understand and effectively carry out their mandated duties and responsibilities and to be accountable for the appropriate use of public funds. Library board members, who are versed in the powers, functions and duties of their positions, including their fiduciary responsibilities, will be better able to provide effective oversight and help a library meet its mission and be accountable to the local community, thereby protecting the public interest. There are currently no ongoing, comprehensive State-approved education or training programs for appointed or elected library trustees in New York State to inform them as to their fiscal oversight and stewardship responsibilities and this bill aims to change that.
- S.6190 allows meetings of members of a rural electric cooperative to be held partially or solely by means of electronic communication. The bill recognizes the need for electric cooperatives in New York to conduct their annual meetings and other governance business remotely. Currently, the statutory language that governs “meetings of members”, Section 17 RECL, enacted during the 1940s, has no mechanism available to allow for meetings to be conducted electronically, as this option would not have been contemplated back then. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted many entities in NY that were prevented by similar statutory limitations from effectively conducting corporate business. As a result, the Governor issued an Executive Order allowing such a waiver from in-person meetings to conduct annual meetings and other meetings for business, non-profit and religious corporations. The legislature later codified the EO for these entities in a bill that the Governor signed into law in June (Chapter 122, L.2020). This is a small tweak to make life easier for rural electric cooperatives, but it provides a nice opening to talk about these cooperatives and help New Yorkers understand the important services they provide and the value of a cooperative, democratic model for utilities that I believe we should be encouraging. The Oneida-Madison rural electric co-op serves 2,000 members with effectiveness and efficiency; with only 4 line workers, they not only provide great service to their members, they also provide mutual aid to surrounding providers, notably NYSEG. Electric co-ops are at the forefront of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- S.5603A allows the City of Syracuse and the city school district to fund a third phase of school renovations and improvements under the direction of the Joint Schools Construction Board (JSCB). School buildings in the City of Syracuse are in serious need of repair and renovation. To this purpose, in 2006 the Syracuse Joint School Construction Board was created. This act was amended in 2013 and 2014 to authorize a second phase of construction (Chapter 459 of 2013 and Chapter 9 of 2014). Currently the Syracuse JSCB is in the middle of completing phase II construction projects. These are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of years. The goal is to then immediately begin phase III projects. This legislation has been requested by the City of Syracuse and the Syracuse City School District in order to ensure a speedy and efficient transition from phase II to phase III. The legislation keeps the same structure and procedures of the phase II legislation to authorize a third phase of projects. This will allow phase III construction to begin soon after all phase II projects have been completed. This legislation is an important step in providing the children of the Syracuse City School district with safe and productive learning environments.
- S.6588A authorizes the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) to provide financing to the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory. Based in the City of Utica, the Masonic Medical Research Institute (MMRI) is committed to conducting research that generates knowledge and information necessary to better understand diseases, and to develop cures and treatments for these diseases. The MMRI also provides education and training to scientists, researchers and students who are dedicated to carrying out this mission on a global scale. This bill will allow this organization to apply for financing from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
- The last is one that the Senate originally passed on March 9th, 2021. The Repeat Code Violations bill is being passed again to incorporate amendments from the Assembly. This bill requires the Secretary of State to create rules and regulations requiring individuals seeking building or construction permits or to purchase property held by land banks or subsidized with public funds to disclose any outstanding orders of remedy or immediately hazardous violations on property held by such person and the status of each order or violation. It also authorizes local governments to enact laws prohibiting individuals from obtaining permits or purchasing such property if they have outstanding orders of remedy or immediately hazardous violations. The new version, S.2884A, includes a graduated minimum fine structure that provides for an appropriate amount of time to cure the violation.