2017 End of Session Report

Mario Cilento                   Terrence Melvin                              Mike Neidl
President                         Secretary-Treasurer                       Legislative Director

 

The following bills have passed both houses of the legislature. This is not a listing of all the bills we worked on with our affiliates, but a short synopsis of some of the bills that passed both houses in the final weeks of the legislative session that are of interest to a broad segment of the labor movement.  

 

Buy American

A8427A-Morelle / S6639A-Robach

This bill strengthens requirements that steel manufactured in the United States be given a preference in bridge and surface road public works projects and includes iron in the new standards.  The bill covers the major construction entities including DOT, the Thruway, the MTA and the Bridge Authority and requires a study to include cement and aluminum products.  The bill sunsets in 2020.  

Upon signing, this bill will take effect April 1, 2018.

 

Sick Leave for 9/11 Workers

A7901A -Abbate / S6398A-Golden-Chapter 273 of the Laws of 2017

This bill creates a line of duty sick leave for public employees outside of New York City who file a notice of participation in the rescue, recovery and/or clean-up operations following the 9/11 attacks.  Employees with qualifying conditions will be granted sick leave at their normal rate of pay to recover from 9/11 associated illness without diminishing their normal sick leave. Effective Date: 9/11/17

Extraordinary Legislative Session (A40001 – Heastie)

After regular session adjourned with several unresolved issues, the Governor called the legislature back into special session on 6/26/2017 to address those issues.  This bill included the following components:

  • 2-year extension of Mayoral control of the New York City school system
  • 3-year extensions of all additional county sales tax and hotel/motel taxes, including New York City and Yonkers personal income taxes
  • Equalization of New York City and Fire disability benefits for those employees who were previously excluded from the disability benefits
  • Assistance for the Vernon Downs Gaming Facility to avoid shutdown
  • Emergency flood assistance for upstate communities

Public Employee Issues

 

Office of Mental Health (OMH) Closure Notification

S2836-Ortt / A2229-Gunther

Current law requires one year notification to local communities and employees of facilities operated by OMH before a facility may be downsized or closed.  This law clarifies that if the closure does not occur within one year and one month, a new notification period would be required.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Staffing Study in Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

A6903A-Brindisi / S4574A-Marchione

This bill requires an annual report by OCFS about the ratio of non-administrative staff to residents of facilities operated by OCFS as well as information related to workers’ compensation rates for employees of those facilities. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

Alternative Work Schedules

S5811A-Squadron / A7634A-Rozic

This bill requires the Commissioner of Civil Service to conduct a study and report on the use of alternative or flexible hours within state agencies as well as any barriers to implementing alternative work hours. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.


Port Authority Discipline Reform

S5451-Lanza / A6987-Abbate

This bill clarifies that any interviews of employees at the NYS/NJ Port Authority that could lead to disciplinary action must be held consistent with collective bargaining agreements of the employee subject to the interview. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Child Protective Services Workload Standards

S3146-Golden / A4049-Lupardo

This bill establishes a maximum caseload of 15 for county child protective service workers.

This bill is effective 2 years after it has been signed.

 

Power Authority – Binding Arbitration

S3377-Griffo / A6988-Abbate

This bill would include the Power Authority of New York State in required binding arbitration to settle contract disputes that are at impasse. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center

S4630-Gallivan / A6505-Kearns

This bill would prohibit the closure of the Western NY Children’s Psychiatric Center. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Injunctive Relief Extension – Chapter 70 of the Laws of 2017

A7964-Abbate / S6477-Golden

This bill extends for two-years provisions that allow public employee unions to petition PERB for injunctive relief in improper practice cases. Effective Date: 6/29/17

 

Independent Hearing Officer for Firefighter Discipline

S5360-Akshar / A6546-Lentol

This bill requires that an independent hearing officer must be utilized for firefighters outside of the City of New York facing disciplinary hearings that could result in dismissal from service. This bill is effective the first of March succeeding the date it has been signed.

 

Building & Construction Trades

 

Reciprocal Debarment for Davis-Bacon Violations

A8514-Bronson / S6790-Murphy

This bill clarifies that a contractor or a ‘substantially owned affiliate’ of the contractor is prohibited from bidding on state and local public works projects if they have been debarred from federal projects for violating provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.


Decriminalizing Possession of Gravity Knife

A5667A-Quart / S4769A-Savino

This bill adjusts the definition of gravity knife in the penal law to ensure that a worker’s possession of a gravity knife, which is often a standard part of a toolset, does not lead to arrest or prosecution. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Workers’ Compensation

 

Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) as Authorized Providers

A2859B-Zebrowski / S3762B-Griffo

This bill provides that treatment by PTAs is eligible for reimbursement by workers’ compensation.  The bill stipulates that PTAs are not authorized to perform independent medical examinations and requires the board to determine if a separate rate is needed for PTA services.   This bill is effective the 16th day after it has been signed.

 

State Insurance Fund (SIF) Pre-Audit

A7865-Simon / S4725-Seward

This bill would eliminate SIF’s existing exemption from pre-audit requirements enforced by the Office of the State Comptroller for various payments. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Pension Issues

Increase in Overtime Ceiling for Public Employee Pensions

A8092-Abbate / S5256A-Golden

Beginning in January of 2018, this bill will annually increase the cap on a public employee’s pensionable overtime pay by the increase in the previous year’s consumer price index. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Pension Borrowing Cap-Chapter 303 of the Laws of 2017
A8093-Abbate / S6391-Golden

This bill establishes a cap on the amount a member of the NYS Employees’ Retirement System may borrow against their public pension contributions at the lesser of 50 percent of their contributions or $50,000. Effective Date: 9/13/17

 

New York City Surplus Contributions Offset  

S6460-Savino / A8055-Abbate

This bill allows members of a city retirement system to use surplus contributions in a special plan to offset a deficit in their basic contributions or vice versa. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Labor Issues

 

Catalogue and Publication of Workforce Development

A1956-Bronson / S3789-Phillips

This bill requires the Department of Labor to catalog and annually report to the legislature all the state and federal workforce development programs, including employment development, education, training and skills development, funding mechanisms, detailed program descriptions and other related information. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Strategic Workforce Development

A8107-Bronson / S6536-Ortt

This bill requires the Urban Development Corporation to create a strategic, statewide workforce development program to identify workforce needs geographically across the state.  The program is to develop specific plans to address unemployment, youth employment, employer needs and develop training and skills programs to address those needs. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Health Care Issues

 

Nurse Bachelor’s Degree

S6768-Flanagan / A1842B-Morelle

This bill requires nurses to attain a bachelor’s degree in nursing within 10 years of their initial licensure. The bill will be applicable after an 18 month grace period and creates a commission to study barriers and obstacles for non-traditional students to becoming a nurse. The bill will not apply to any current nurses, persons with an application to become a nurse pending the effective date or students preparing to become a nurse already enrolled in a generic bachelor’s degree program. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Enhanced Assistance for Safety Net Hospitals

S5661B-Little / A7763-Gottfried

This bill would provide a rate adjustment and additional assistance to hospitals that serve larger proportions of Medicaid, uninsured and underinsured patients.  Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Nurse Practitioner Titles in Civil Service

A834B-Gunther / S3567B-Hannon

This bill requires the Department of Civil Service to do a study about the job description of nurse practitioner within the civil service system and report on whether the current grade assignment adequately reflects the duties and complexities of the position.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Public Employee Cancer Screening Leave

S5925-Hannon / A2830B-Dinowitz

This bill removes limitations on the types of cancer screenings that public employees are granted 4 hours of annual leave for.

This bill is effective the ninetieth day after it has been signed.

 

Education and Higher Education

 

SUNY Maintenance of Effort

A934A-Glick / S1596A-LaValle

This bill requires the state to appropriate adequate levels of funding for collective bargaining agreements and other associated employee costs for SUNY and the SUNY hospitals. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

BOCES Capital Exclusion

A5965-Galef / S4283-Murphy

This bill would exclude a school district’s share of capital construction costs that they pay to BOCES from the property tax spending cap.   

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Teacher’s Retirement System Transfers-Chapter 292 of the Laws of 2017

A6604-Abbate / S5135A-Savino

This bill removes the one-year notice requirement and the three-year service requirement for a teacher to transfer service from one retirement system to another. Effective Date: 9/13/17

 

Continuing Education for Private School Personnel-Chapter 311 of the Laws of 2017

S4016-Marcellino / A1039-Nolan

This bill ensures that continuing education requirements for various school instructors also applies to private school instructors.

Effective Date: 9/13/17

 

Automatic Enrollment in New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS)

A7193C-Perry / S5634B-Savino

This bill provides that future hires who are eligible to opt-into the NYC BERS system will from now on be automictically enrolled as a member of the system unless they choose to opt out. Upon signing, this bill will take effect July 1, 2018.

 

Transportation

 

MTA Surface Study

S5754A-Peralta / A7562A-Dinowitz

This bill requires various transit and state agencies to conduct a joint study on above ground transportation stations and elevated railroads about air quality standards and lead paint abatement.  Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Transit Workers Layoff Credit

S6591-Dilan / A8320-Walker

This bill ensures that employees of the MTA who were laid off during budget cuts beginning in 2010 are eligible for pension credit if they contribute what they normally would have been required to while working. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

MTA Binding Arbitration Extender-Chapter 63 of the Laws of 2017

A6516-Abbate / S5257-Golden

This bill extends for two-years provisions that require binding arbitration to resolve impasses between the MTA and employee organizations representing employees at the MTA. Effective Date: 6/29/17

 

Law Enforcement

 

State Police Casino Background Checks

S3580-Gallivan / A6793-Pretlow

This bill requires the New York State Gaming Commission to utilize the New York State Police to conduct various background and qualification checks for casino license applications.  Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

County Corrections 20-Year Retirement

S1850-Ortt / A6277-Abbate

This bill would allow counties the option of offering a 20-year at half pay retirement plan for correction officers.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

County Probation Disability

S2516-Gallivan / A473-Paulin

This bill would include county probation officers under coverage of Section 207-c of the General Municipal Law, which provides full salary and medical pay for officers injured in the performance of their duty. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Parole Officer Disability

A1644-Skoufis / S407-Robach

This bill would provide parole officers with full salary and medical pay for officers injured in the performance of their duty.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Parole Staffing Study

A7687-Weprin / S5987-Gallivan

This bill requires the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to conduct a study and report on staffing of parole officers and caseloads to determine the adequacy of needed services. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Parole Duties Defined

S4770A-Gallivan / A4032A-Weprin

This bill clarifies that certain duties and responsibilities may only be performed by parole officers and not assigned to other staff or departments or agencies. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Unified Court System (UCS) Peace Officer Disability

S3671-Golden / A3503-Abbate

This bill requires that peace officers employed by UCS are eligible for a 75 percent disability retirement benefit if they are injured in the performance of their duties and can no longer perform those duties. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Unified Court System (UCS) Peace Officers Retirement
S3670-Golden / A3332-Abbate

This bill ensures that peace officers employed by UCS can retire without penalty at age 55 if they have 30 years of service.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Accidental Death Benefit Increase

S4588A-Golden / A6286A-Joyner

This bill increases the accidental death benefit payable to widows or dependents of uniformed personnel. Upon signing, this bill will be considered effective after July 1, 2017.

 

State Police Credit

S5948-Akshar / A7818-Cahill

This bill changes the timeframe for a police officer to earn credit in their retirement system for prior service as a SUNY police officer.  Current law requires that needed training occur within one year of appointment as police officer while this bill would allow for two years.

Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Police & Firefighters Accidental Disability Filing Period

S4622-Golden / A6403-Abbate

This bill extends from two years to five years the deadline to file an accidental disability retirement for firefighters that develop various cancers as a result of performing their duty. Upon signing, this bill will be considered effective after January 1, 2014.

 

Retiree Issues

 

Pension Loan Study

S6161A-Hamilton / A684A-Rodriguez

This bill directs the Department of Financial Services to conduct a study about the business practices, licensure, interest rates and fees of companies that offer pension loans. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Protection for Retired Public Employee Health Insurance

S4324-Tedisco / A5210-Abinati

This bill requires that retired employees of public entities be given 45-day notice prior to amendments or changes in their health insurance plans. In the event such changes are part of collective bargaining agreements, the notification will occur when the changes are binding on current employees. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Entertainment Industry

 

Writer’s Diversity Tax Credit

A7270C-Crespo / S4999D-Alcantara

This bill creates a tax credit for film and television production companies that hire minority or women writers in an entry level position.

This bill is effective 120 days after it has been signed.

 

Local Governments

 

Reform of Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA)

A7891-Hooper / S6788-Rules

This bill would clarify that step increases of employees of Nassau County would not be suspended if there is a wage freeze in place but the county’s 4-year budget plan has been certified and approved and the authority has certified the revenue estimates for the county.

Upon signing, this bill will be considered effective after October 1, 2016.

 

Nassau County Fire Marshals Disability

S5705-Phillips / A7127-Abbate

This bill creates a 75 percent performance of duty disability retirement benefit for Nassau County fire marshals and related titles if they are injured while performing their duties. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Nassau County Ambulance Medical Technicians (AMT) Disability

S5704-Phillips / A7135-Abbate

This bill creates a 75 percent performance of duty disability retirement benefit for Nassau County AMTs and related titles if they are injured while performing their duties. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

New York City Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) Death Benefit

S5706-Golden / A7603-Abbate

This bill includes EMTs employed by New York City as eligible for a death benefit for their spouses or dependents if they are killed while discharging their duties. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

New York City Uniformed Sanitation Worker Death Benefit

A7185A -DenDecker / S5484A-Golden

This bill includes uniformed sanitation workers employed by New York City as eligible for a special accidental death benefit for their spouses or dependents if they are killed as the result of an accident sustained in the performance of their duty. Upon signing, this bill will be considered effective after Nov. 1, 1996.

Veterans’ Issues / Military Service Issues

 

Paid Leave for Health Care of Combat Veterans

S2911A-Croci / A3198A-Paulin

This bill provides up to 8 days of paid leave for state employees who are military personnel or veterans and who served in combat to obtain health care services related to their combat service. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Disability for Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) Firefighters
S6529-Murphy / A8326-Abbate

This bill creates a 75 percent performance of duty disability retirement benefit for firefighters employed by DMNA if they are injured while performing their duties. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.

 

Child Care

 

Office of Children and Family Services Posting of Available Day Care

S683-Kennedy / A2183-Mayer

This bill requires the Council on Children and Families to post and make available for the public a listing of all programs that receive state funding for after-school or summer child care programs as well as all registered child care providers and locations in the state.

This bill is effective the nineteenth day after it has been signed.

 

Child Care Task Force

S5929A-Avella / A7726A-Jaffe

This bill creates a child care task force to conduct a study and report on the availability of child care, the quality of child care and whether workers are voluntarily leaving the workforce due to child care related issues. Upon signing, this bill is effective immediately.