Gounardes: The top 10 actions taken this legislative session

Andrew Gounardes.

This legislative session was arguably the most productive in modern New York history. We showed that despite federal dysfunction, our state can make meaningful progress on behalf of working people.

Here are my top 10 highlights from the legislative session:

School zone speed camera expansion: My legislation to increase the number school zone speed cameras throughout the City from 140 to 750 became law, expanding a program that has been proven to save lives. No parent, senior, or pedestrian of any age should live in fear of crossing the street because of speeding traffic.

Climate change action: We passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, putting New York at the forefront of the global solution to prevent more extreme and devastating weather events like Superstorm Sandy. This bill mandates an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 and 70 percent renewables by 2030. Those of us in coastal communities know firsthand how urgent action is to meet this historic challenge.

MTA accountability and reform: We reformed our mass transit system by reorganizing the MTA, increasing accountability by guaranteeing a full forensic audit and creating dedicated funding streams for desperately needed improvements. There’s much more to do, and this is one of my biggest priorities for next session.

Historic tenant protections: The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act represents the strongest protections for tenants in New York’s history. The legislation introduces new consequences for unlawful evictions, limits security deposits to one month’s rent, prevents landlords from blacklisting tenants based on their housing court history and strengthens rent protections. For the tens of thousands of working-class and middle-class families in our district who are renters, these laws will provide much-needed relief.

Services for 9/11 First Responders: I sponsored a package of three 9/11 heroes bills to support our first responders designed to close gaps in services by guaranteeing sick leave, protecting benefits for FDNY retirees with cancer and making the NYCERS board function better. For many who ran into the debris to serve their fellow New Yorkers that day, their struggles continue, and it is our responsibility to be there for them as they were for us.

Anti-sexual harassment legislation: We successfully changed rules that protected perpetrators and denied survivors justice for far too long, including eliminating New York’s outdated, arbitrary and subjective ‘severe or pervasive’ standard for sexual harassment. I particularly want to recognize advocates and survivors who fought tirelessly to put their lived experiences into action to transform the law and protect millions of New Yorkers.

Billion-dollar increase in funding for public schools: Public schools are at the heart of our community and neighborhoods, and I’m proud that our budget increased funding for public schools by $1 billion.

Passed the Child Victims Act: We passed the Child Victims Act, a long-stalled piece of legislation allowing victims of child abuse to seek civil justice against their abusers regardless of how long ago the crimes occurred.

Election reforms: We expanded access to voting by approving much-needed reforms to our electoral system. New Yorkers gained access to an early vote, and we mandated that state and federal primaries be held on the same day to increase turnout.

Gun safety: New York passed the first substantial gun safety reforms since Sandy Hook, banning bump stocks, increasing the waiting period for those who do not pass a background check, banning teachers from carrying guns in schools and implementing the “red flag” rule to prevent those deemed in danger of hurting themselves or others from using a firearm.

I’m honored for the opportunity to serve my community, and appreciate you taking the time to read my top 10! I’d love to hear from you about yours. Please be in touch with my office at gounardes@nysenate.gov or (718) 238-6044.

State Sen. Andrew