October 08, 2008

Legislative Update: End-of-Session 2008

Source: NYSUT Legislative Department

First posted: June 30, 2008

Following is a list of NYSUT's program bills and other legislative accomplishments. Bills listed have passed both the Senate and the Assembly. Check back for updates.

On this page:


LABOR

Permanent Agency Shop Fee

  • S -7272 Lanza - PASSED
  • A - 10030 Abbate - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 07/11/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 338

This legislation makes the agency shop fee permanent for public employee unions. Under the Taylor Law public employees are responsible for the costs of representing both members and non-members. This bill would continue to provide a system for agency shop fee deductions only for employee organizations which offer rebates for a percentage of dues used for political purposes.

Paid Leave for Breast and Prostate Cancer Screening

  • S - 8077 Morahan  - PASSED
  • A - 10035-A Brodsky - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 07/11/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 391

This legislation would allow employees of community colleges, public authorities, public benefit corporations, BOCES employees, employees of vocational schools and employees of a participating employer in the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System to take an excused leave for breast cancer and/or prostate cancer screening.

Leave of Absence for Blood Donation

  • SIGNED CHAPTER 31

This legislation provides an option for employers to allow employees two hours of time twice a year to donate blood at a convenient time and place established by the employer.

Independent Hearing Officers for Disciplinary Hearings

  • S – 7298 Maltese  - PASSED
  • A - 10345 Lentol  - PASSED
  • VETO Memo 26

This legislation establishes that a person represented by a certified or recognized collective bargaining organization who is subject to disciplinary action shall be entitled to representation by an independent and neutral hearing officer who would hear charges and render a decision on behalf of the employer. The independent hearing officer is to be agreed to by the employer and the person against whom disciplinary action is proposed. If the parties are unable to agree upon a hearing officer, he or she would be selected from a list of seven names to be provided by the Public Employee Relations Board.

Paid Leave of Absence for Union Activities

  • S- 8199-A Rules  - PASSED
  • A-11110-A Abbate  - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 08/25/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 523

This legislation would grant an employee elected to serve as a representative of an employee organization recognized pursuant to the Taylor Law a leave of absence with full salary from their regular position for the purpose of serving with such employee organization.


K - 12

Buffalo Control Board

  • S-8484 Volker  - PASSED
  • A-11607/Rules (Peoples)  - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 07/25/08
  • VETO 85

This legislation clarifies the determination of an advisory period by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (BFSA). This legislation clarifies the terms under which the Buffalo Control Board determines when the fiscal control period ends and an advisory period begins. Presently there are numerous lawsuits and conflicting legal opinions regarding the lifting of the control period and the transition to an advisory period. Statutory clarification is required to avoid continued lawsuits and disagreements over the terms of the BFSA Act (Chapter 122 of the Laws of 2003), the legislation that established the BFSA and imposed a control period for the City.

Center for Rural Schools

  • S-7124-B Winner  - PASSED
  • A - 10201-B Lifton  - PASSED
  • Delivered to the Governor - 09/15/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 616

This legislation creates the New York State Center for Rural Schools and expands upon the size, scope and responsibilities of the current Rural Education Advisory Committee. Also, the bill would require that one member of the Committee be a certified teacher.

The New York State Center for Rural Schools would work to address such issues as making schools the center of rural communities, using schools to help provide a bridge out of poverty, improving the quality of a rural education, teacher retention, promoting active learning and adult learning.

New York State Teacher Day

  • SIGNED CHAPTER 61

This legislation establishes the first Tuesday in May to be known as "New York State Teacher Day."

Special Education Teacher Training – Autism

  • S - 8497 Saland  - PASSED
  • A -11550 Rules (Weisenberg) - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 07/25/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 484

This legislation extends the date from February 2, 2007 to September 2, 2009 in which persons applying for a teaching certificate must complete enhanced course work or training in the area of autistic needs. In addition to extending the teacher training requirements this bill provides that special education administrators appointed on or after September 2, 2009 are also required to obtain similar training in the needs of autistic children. The bill allows BOCES and all Teacher Centers to provide such training as part of its professional development program.

Internet Safety Instruction

  • S - 7051-A Saland  - PASSED
  • A - 11256-A Brodsky  - PASSED
  • Delivered to the Governor - 08/25/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 545

This legislation directs the Commissioner of Education to develop age-appropriate resources and technical assistance for schools to provide to students in grades 3 through 12 and their parents or legal guardians concerning the safe and responsible use of the Internet.

School District Budgets - Increased Fuel Costs

  • S - 7025 Saland  - PASSED
  • A - 10295 Nolan - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 08/25/08
  • VETO 121

This legislation allows school districts operating on a contingency budget for the 2008-2009 school year to exclude the amount of fuel cost increases from the statutory spending cap on contingency budgets. This legislation would allow schools to pay for fuel costs without cutting instructional expenses in order to stay under a contingency cap. Without this measure the allowable spending increase is primarily taken up by excessive fuel costs, seriously jeopardizing the districts ability to maintain educational programs and services.

Access to School Meal Programs

  • S- 6040-A Saland - PASSED
  • A -8699-B Nolan - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 06/27/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 172

This legislation requires the Commissioner of Education to identify methodologies and practices used by school districts to simplify student access to free or reduced price school breakfast and lunch programs and identify students in a manner that does not overtly identify whether they are receiving a free or reduced price meal. Participation in the free and reduced price programs decreases if children are embarrassed or stigmatized. This approach would help to more effectively operate these programs, and help to ensure that our most vulnerable students are receiving the basic nutrition which is essential to successful learning.

Special Education Programs and Services

  • S-7981-A Saland - PASSED
  • A -10549-B Weisenberg - PASSED
  • Delivered to the Governor 09/15/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 630

This legislation would permit members of a committee or subcommittee on special education to compile a list of special education services which may be available outside of a school setting. The list shall state that such services would not be paid for by the school district and that neither the school district nor a committee member who acted in good faith in providing such information shall be held liable.


Retirement

Prohibition on Unilateral Diminution of Retirees' Health Insurance - School District Employees

  • SIGNED CHAPTER 43

This legislation extends until May 15, 2009, the provisions of Chapter 729 of the Laws of 1994 (as amended by Chapter 25 of the Laws of 2004) which provide that school districts, BOCES, VEEBs and special act schools shall be prohibited from diminishing any health insurance benefits or contributions made on behalf of retirees or their dependents unless there is a corresponding diminution in such benefits for the active employees of such employer.

Health Insurance Moratorium for all Public Employees/Task Force

  • S-6457-Farley - PASSED
  • A-9393-Abbate - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 08/25/08
  • VETO 113

This legislation provides a one-year moratorium (same protection afforded to school districts) from May 1, 2008 until June 30, 2009 to prohibit all public employers, during this period, from unilaterally diminishing any health insurance benefits or contributions made on behalf of retirees or their dependents below the current level unless there is a corresponding diminution in such benefits for the active employees of such employer

In addition, this legislation creates the Task Force on Retiree Health Insurance Protection to study and recommend cost-effective strategies for protecting adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for retired public employees and their families. The Task Force shall consist of 12 members – two of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the New York State AFL-CIO. The Task Force shall issue a report no later than June 1, 2009.

Age 55 Early Service Retirement Plan - UFT

  • SIGNED CHAPTER 22

This legislation establishes an improved Age 55 Retirement Plan to permit certain Tier 2 and 4 members of the New York City Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) to retire prior to age 62 without a reduction in their service retirement benefit. Current employees who participate in the new plan would be eligible to retire at age 55 with 25 or more years of credited service. Employees hired after the enactment of the bill would be eligible to retire at age 55 with 27 or more years of credited service. The new plans would be funded by plan participants through additional member contributions equal to 1.85% of their salary for each payroll period.


Higher Education

SUNY (UUP) Pay Bill

  • SIGNED CHAPTER 113

This legislation implements the terms of a collective bargaining agreement between the Executive Branch of the State of New York and United University Professions (UUP) pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law, which governs the period between July 2, 2007 and July 1, 2011. This agreement was ratified by UUP's membership on March 13, 2008.

CUNY (PSC) Pay Bill

  • S-8711 (Rules) - PASSED
  • A-11761 Rules (Abbate) - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 06/27/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 287

This legislation authorizes CUNY to implement the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with its employee organization, the Professional Staff Congress, in effect for the period September 20, 2007 through October 19, 2010.

Health Insurance Moratorium for all Public Employees/Task Force

  • S-6457-Farley - PASSED
  • A-9393-Abbate - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 08/25/08
  • VETO 113

This legislation provides a one-year moratorium (same protection afforded to school districts) from May 1, 2008 until June 30, 2009 to prohibit all public employers, during this period, from unilaterally diminishing any health insurance benefits or contributions made on behalf of retirees or their dependents below the current level unless there is a corresponding diminution in such benefits for the active employees of such employer

In addition, this legislation creates the Task Force on Retiree Health Insurance Protection to study and recommend cost-effective strategies for protecting adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for retired public employees and their families. The Task Force shall consist of 12 members – two of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the New York State AFL-CIO. The Task Force shall issue a report no later than June 1, 2009.

SUNY Purchase Land Lease Bill

  • S-5987-a Leibell - PASSED
  • A-8535-a Bradley - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 07/11/08
  • VETO 30

This legislation amends the Education Law to authorize the lease of lands located at SUNY Purchase for a senior learning community. The property to be leased under this proposal is not needed for educational purposes by the campus and 75% of the revenue generated from such lease would be directly applied to student scholarships. This would increase access to higher education for many individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Moreover, the enactment of this legislation would help to increase the quality of academic programs and services offered to students at SUNY Purchase as 25% of the proceeds from the lease would be applied to hiring more full-time faculty and support staff as well as raising salaries for UUP members employed at the campus.


Health Care

Ending Mandatory Overtime for Nurses

  • S-8637 Morahan - PASSED
  • A-11711 Rules (Gunther) - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 08/1/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 493

This legislation provides restrictions on the number of consecutive hours of required work by nurses. A nurse would not be required to work more than his or her regularly scheduled work hours. These restrictions would not apply in cases of a health care emergency or disaster that increases the need for health care. This would not prohibit a nurse from voluntarily working overtime.


Health and Safety

New York City Schools Cafeteria Air Temperature

  • S - 6487-B Maziarz - PASSED
  • A - 9428-A John - PASSED
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 4

This legislation would establish air temperature standards and cooling requirements in cafeterias in New York City schools. This bill would also establish standards and regulations for compliance with this act in order to ensure that standards are set for safe temperatures in these kitchens and eventually result in changes in design or equipment so that conditions are improved. Excessive heat in the workplace can lead to health problems, as well as stressful and dangerous working conditions for employees.

State Green Building Construction Act

  • S - 5442-B Marcellino - PASSED
  • A - 2005-C Lupardo (MS) - PASSED
  • Delivered to the Governor 09/15/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 565

This legislation requires certain State buildings to comply with green building principles. Green buildings use resources more efficiently and effectively and provide healthier environments for working, learning and living by effectively controlling air ventilation systems and using alternative paints, finishes, adhesives, furniture and fabrics that do not negatively affect air quality.

New York State Greenhouse Gases Management

  • S - 8356 Marcellino - PASSED
  • A - 3414-A Magnarelli (MS) - PASSED
  • Delivered to the Governor 9/15/08
  • VETO MEMO 142

This legislation creates the New York State Greenhouse Gases Management Research and Development Program. Presently, New York State is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. It is also home to a vast number of research institutions that have already taken a leadership the research of global warming and climate change issues. While substantial effort has been devoted to developing alternative energy sources and energy conservation, there continues to be serious concern with the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Insufficient research is being undertaken on the capture and/or sequestration of such pollutants. This bill would provide grants to research entities in New York State in order to help promote the State's potential as a global leader in such research.


Psychologists

Treatment and Confinement of Mentally Ill Inmates

  • S -6422 Nozzolio - PASSED
  • A -9342 Aubry - PASSED
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 1

This legislation establishes residential treatment programs that provide for the treatment and confinement of inmates with serious mental illness in a manner that is consistent with both the mental health treatment needs of such inmates and the safety and security of the facility.


Civil and Human Rights - Social Justice

Domestic Violence Protection

  • S-8665 Winner - PASSED
  • A-11701 Rules (Weinstein) - PASSED
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 326

This legislation extends protections to all New Yorkers (including same-sex couples) against domestic violence. The bill would enable Family Court to give civil orders of protection to all victims of domestic violence, including unmarried committed couples and those in dating relationships. This means that same-sex partners who were previously blocked from the Family Court because they didn't have the ability to get married would now have equal access to protection from domestic violence.


Other Bills of Interest

Automatic Teaching Certificate Revocation - Sex Offender Registration Act

  • A-11500-A Nolan - PASSED
  • S-8553 Saland - PASSED
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 296

This legislation requires the immediate termination of employment and automatic revocation and annulment of a teaching certificate or license held by a teacher who is convicted of certain sex offenses for which registration is required under the State's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA).

The bill also establishes a system to address proper employee identification and conviction reversals. In cases of mistaken identity, the teacher would have twenty-five days to prove that he or she is not the person identified as being convicted of the sex offense. If successful, a teacher's certificate would be reinstated retroactive to the date it was revoked. If a conviction is reversed or annulled the certificate could be reinstated after hearings conducted by the Education Department. This determination must be made by within ninety days after receiving proof that the teacher's conviction has been reversed, vacated or annulled.

If a teacher's certificate is reinstated and that was the reason for termination, then the teacher would have his or her employment reinstated and be entitled to back pay and benefits from the date the certificate was revoked.

Enhanced School Board Reporting Requirement (Attorney General Bill)

  • S-8699 Skelos - PASSED
  • A-11743 Rules - PASSED

This legislation enacts provisions establishing compensation and benefits reporting and disclosure requirements for school districts and BOCES which employ retired persons that earn amounts in excess of limitations provided in law. All money earned by a retired person in a school district or BOCES that is in excess of the legal earnings limitation must be reported to the retirement system from which the retired person is collecting their retirement allowance. Also, the bill makes several reforms to the re-employment waiver process for retirees returning to public service including the requirement that the retiree may not return to work in the same or similar position for a period of one year following retirement.

Special Education Programs for Home Schooled Students

  • S - 7490-B Winner - PASSED
  • A - 11463 Rules (Benedetto) - PASSED
  • Delivered to Governor - 06/27/08
  • SIGNED CHAPTER 217

This legislation would enable students with disabilities, who are in a home instruction program, to be eligible to receive education for students with disabilities by being deemed as students enrolled in the public school district in which the home school is located. The public school enrollment status is solely for the purpose of special education programs and services.