Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be making six State of the State speeches this week as he makes stops in Long Island, New York City, Westchester County, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo to deliver his proposals directly to the people.
In recent days his office has provided some details of the governor’s legislative agenda for 2017. These proposals include free tuition at public colleges for middle income students, refurbishing JFK Airport, fighting cybercrime, protecting senior citizens from financial exploitation, stronger oversight of the financial services industry, cracking down on wage theft, building a large system of electric vehicle charging stations, modernizing the state’s voting system and regulations, and closing the Indian Point nuclear plant ahead of schedule.
But the Senate Democratic Conference notes that many of these proposals have existed as bills written by its members, in some cases for many years, and that they would have passed the Senate if all Democrats elected to the Senate worked together.
“Another day and another set of proposals by the governor that mirrors initiatives long supported by Senate Democrats,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
The latest ‘State of the State’ proposals highlighting much needed election reforms are nearly identical to legislation drafted by myself, and Deputy Leader Gianaris,” Stewart
-Cousins said. “The increased availability for electric vehicle charging stations proposal mirrors efforts pushed by Senator Parker. The wage theft proposal is similar to a bill advanced by Senator Peralta and the protecting seniors proposals are similar to bills created by our Aging Committee Ranker Senator Diaz.
“If all Democrats had united and given us our rightful majority these proposals would pass the Senate,” she said, referring to the Independent Democratic Conference, which caucuses with Senate Republicans.
Stewart-Cousins provided a list of bills from the 2015-2016 session that aimed to accomplish much of the policy changes proposed by the governor in recent days. For example:
Bills protecting seniors from financial abuse and homelessness include,
● S.262B – Creates a financial exploitation prevention program to aid seniors from being financially exploited (Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.)
● S.115 – Creates the senior housing task force (Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.)
● S.145 – Creates a senior housing partnership/public authority (Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.)
● S.274 – Creates the senior tenant advocacy bureau (Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.)
Bills related to electric vehicle charging,
● S.1411A – Enacts the Electric Superhighway Act; requires alternative refueling stations such as electric charging stations every 120 miles on each side of the NYS Thruway (Senator Kevin Parker)
● S.2794A – Incentive program for electric and alternative fuel cars (Senator Kevin Parker)
Legislation protecting New Yorkers from wage theft,
● S.2322F – SWEAT Bill; allows for a lien to be filed on an employer during a wage theft case to prevent an employer from hiding assets to avoid paying a judgment in a wage theft case (Senator Jose Peralta)
Bills to modernize and increase access to voting,
● S.3813C – Implement an Early Voting Program(Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins)
● S.2538A – Voter Empowerment Act, which includes automatic voter registration (Democratic Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris)
● S.2428 – Expands list of agencies to assist members of the public in registering to vote (Democratic Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris)
● S.2391 – Allows for same-day voter registration through a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate 10 day pre-election voter registration requirement (Democratic Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris)
● S.2483B – Allows qualified individuals to vote whether or not they are registered when at their local polling place (Democratic Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris)