Dear Friends:

The 2019 Legislative Session was one of the most productive sessions in New York State history. As new Senators, we were sent to Albany to enact legislation to help New Yorkers in their daily lives, and to break the logjam that had prevented good laws and forward-thinking policies from being enacted. My Senate and Assembly legislative colleagues were wonderful partners, and I am proud to be working alongside them.

During the final weeks, we passed legislation to protect tenants in Westchester and across the state, to protect New Yorkers from the spread of the measles virus, and to update our state's outdated sexual harassment laws with a comprehensive package of rights for employees who have been sexually harassed.

Other historic legislative victories include the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to combat the effects of climate change; Erin’s Law, a bill to require public schools to teach personal body safety as part of a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program; and the Green Light NY initiative, which helps our community members come out of the shadows and increases road safety by making driver's licenses accessible regardless of immigration status.

I was very disappointed we were unable to pass a Prevailing Wage bill, which would grant local workers the opportunity to be part of the dynamic economic growth in our communities by requiring companies that receive state tax benefits to pay the prevailing wage to workers. I intend to press ahead next year to get this done. And while we did not legalize recreational marijuana for adult users, we did decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and pass legislation to remove past convictions for minor marijuana-related offenses, which was long overdue. I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana must be fully vetted, and I look forward to continuing to work on this issue.

Though there is more work to be done, I am proud of what we accomplished in the 2019 Legislative Session. As always, if I can join you at a meeting or event, please let me know. And if my office can assist in any way, we look forward to doing so. My office can be reached at 914-934-5250 or at smayer@nysenate.gov .

Sincerely,
Shelley B. Mayer
New York State Senator
37th District
THE STRONGEST AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEGISLATION
AND TENANT PROTECTIONS IN STATE HISTORY
State Senator Zellnor Myrie; Chair of Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development Brian Kavanagh; Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; and State Senators Shelley Mayer and Peter Harckham at a Westchester Public Hearing on Housing.
New York’s rent laws were set to expire on June 15th, and we had the opportunity to renew and strengthen them – which we did. Thousands of rent-stabilized tenants live in my district, in Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, Port Chester and elsewhere. Too many Westchester residents simply cannot find affordable housing in our County and we must protect the limited stock that exists. In crafting a bill, we made a point to listen to the concerns of residents and property owners alike in hearings across the state, including one in Westchester. 

The bill that we ultimately passed and that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on June 14, 2019:
  • Extends the rent regulation laws and makes them permanent.
  • Repeals high rent vacancy deregulation & high income deregulation.
  • Reforms rent increases for major capital improvements (MCIs) by authorizing a rent increase of 2% (rather than the current 15% in Westchester) for the amortized costs of MCIs, and ensuring the increase is not permanent and expires after 30 years.
  • Reforms rent increases for individual apartment improvements (IAIs) by limiting the type of work authorized for IAIs and allowing only three improvements in a total amount of no more than $15,000 over a 15-year period.         
  • Repeals the vacancy bonus & longevity bonus.
  • Makes preferential rents the base rent for lease renewal increases.
  • Extends rent overcharge four-year look-back period to six years.
  • Requires annual report from Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) on rent administration and tenant protection.
  • Establishes rent stabilization as an option for localities statewide.
  • Establishes stronger housing security and tenant protections statewide for tenants not subject to rent stabilization laws, including limits on required security deposits and protections for tenant advocates.

Click here for more details on the historic tenant protections and rent regulations package approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

CLIMATE LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNITY PROTECTION ACT
On Wednesday, June 19th, the legislature passed the most expansive climate change legislation in the nation by adopting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. S.6599 addresses the severe and increasing effects of climate change by generating solutions to cut greenhouse gases, shifting the state’s energy reliance to renewable sources, and creating green jobs to promote a just transition in New York State.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, S.6599, will: 
  • Minimize the adverse impacts of climate change by reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions with a goal of net zero emissions across all sectors of the economy.
  • Require the state to achieve a net-zero-emissions status in the electricity sector by 2040.
  • Improve the state’s resiliency to the certain effects and risks of climate change.
  • Ensure that the ongoing transition of the state's energy sector will create good jobs and protect workers and communities during the transition process.
  • Prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities, control the potential regressive impacts of future climate change mitigation, and adopt policies to mitigate the effects on these communities.
  • Review and prioritize the allocation of public investments.
COMPREHENSIVE PROTECTIONS AND RIGHTS
FOR EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY HARASSED
On Wednesday, June 19th, I was proud to vote for a comprehensive package of workplace sexual harassment rights and protections. This major victory belongs in large part to survivors, including the Sexual Harassment Working Group, composed of former legislative staffers from the NYS Assembly and Senate who had the courage to speak up and fight for these changes and encourage the first hearings on this subject in over 20 years. The measures that we passed respond to the voices of the survivors and experts.

S.6577/A.8421 was adopted by the Senate and Assembly, and it will:
  • Remove the "severe or pervasive" standard from discriminatory and retaliatory harassment cases.
  • Extend the statute of limitations to three years for sexual harassment complaints under the Human Rights Law.
  • Prohibit non-disclosure agreements from barring someone from speaking out against discrimination.
  • Expand protections for domestic workers and independent contractors to include all forms of harassment.
  • Authorize the award of punitive damages and attorney fees in employment discrimination actions.
  • Push back the Faragher-Ellerth defense by clarifying that the fact that an individual did not make a complaint about the harassment to their employer, licensing agency, employment agency or labor organization will not be determinative of whether such employer, licensing agency, employment agency or labor organization is liable.
  • Prohibits mandatory arbitration of discrimination claims.
  • Require employers to provide their employees with a notice of sexual harassment prevention policies in the employees’ primary language. 

GREEN LIGHT NY BILL:
DRIVER'S LICENSE ACCESS & PRIVACY ACT
On Monday, June 18th, I was proud to vote in favor of a bill which allows our immigrant community members to come out of the shadows and improve road safety throughout New York. Green Light NY, S.1747-B (Sepulveda), restores the right of New Yorkers to apply for a standard driver's license regardless of immigration status.

This bill ensures these individuals complete a driver’s education course, formally obtain a driver's license, and pay the necessary fees while limiting law enforcement’s ability to investigate immigration status at a routine traffic stop. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law the same day that it passed the Senate. 

S.1747-B waves the social security number requirement to obtain a driver's license if the applicant signs an affidavit that they have not been issued a social security number. (The social security number was not required in NYS prior to 9/11.) The new law provides the DMV with the discretion to require additional proofs of identity and age, and it protects this data from unwarranted release. In my statement on the Senate floor, I quoted from the letter from Ossining Police Chief Kevin Sylvester in which he stated " more than 10% of all traffic tickets issued within our municipality (Village of Ossining) are for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. An even higher percentage of our reported collisions involve one of more unlicensed drivers. It is time we recognize that our efforts are not accomplishing the objective. We must change our strategy in order to effectively and efficiently make our roads safe." He goes on to say that once victims in accidents or in crashes have a license, they are going to cooperate with law enforcement. This is a good step for law enforcement.

Green Light NY allows undocumented New Yorkers to apply for a standard, non-commercial, non-Federal license. The bill does not grant any additional rights to the person in relation to immigration status, citizenship, and specifically does not grant the right to vote.
I am incredibly proud of our record of accomplishment, and know that these legislative changes will result in meaningful improvements in the lives of New Yorkers. Thank you for giving me the honor of serving our community, and the obligation to do my best for the people of the 37th Senate District.
222 Grace Church Street, Suite 300
Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone: (914) 934-5250 --- Email: SMayer@nysenate.gov