By SHERRY HALBROOK
The 2009 New York State legislative session has become one for the history
books, setting a new standard for poor productivity, particularly in the state
As this issue of The Communicator goes to press July 1, the state Senate remains
paralyzed by a political stalemate caused by the defection of a Democrat, Pedro
Espada Jr. of the Bronx, leaving each party with exactly 31 votes.
Although Espada changed his voting allegiance, but not his party enrollment, it
has allowed both sides to claim control of the Senate. Neither negotiations,
pressure from Gov. David Paterson, nor efforts to have the courts resolve the
issue have relieved the paralysis.
Passed in both houses
Before June 8, just three bills PEF supports were passed by both the Assembly
and the Senate. These bills, all sponsored by Assembly Member Peter Abbate Jr.
and Sen. Diane Savino, are:
which would extend the effectiveness of
provisions of the state Civil Service Law which create a procedure to enjoin
improper practices temporarily where irreparable harm might otherwise result.
This bill has been signed into law;
, which would extend for another two years
certain temporary benefits and pension supplementation programs for retired
public employees. This bill was sent June 19 to the governor for his signature
or veto; and
which includes a section that makes minor
technical corrections to implement the terms of the PS&T contract ratified in
2008. Paterson signed this bill into law.
Passed in the Assembly
The state Assembly recessed June 22, after passing 20 more bills of importance
to PEF, including three opposed by the union.
Perhaps most significant, however, was a bill the Assembly did not bring to the
floor for a vote: the bill to create a new Tier 5 for the state pension system
and which would apply to employees hired after July 1, 2009. Paterson has been
counting on a new Tier 5 to save most of the money he says is needed to avoid
8,700 state layoffs.
Neither has the Senate, which Paterson has forced to “meet” daily since June 22,
acted on his Tier 5 proposal.
The three bills PEF opposed that were passed by the Assembly are:
which would authorize the city of Albany to
impose a residential parking-permit system that would disadvantage state
employees who work downtown;
which would establish a state Office of Child
Advocate for youths in programs and facilities under the state Office of
Children and Family Services.
Among the 18 bills PEF supports that passed in the Assembly, two would directly
affect state nurses.
the Nursing Care Quality Protection Act,
would require hospitals to publicly disclose the number of licensed nurses (RNs
and LPNs) providing direct care, the ratio of RNs to patients, and other
information such as the number of adverse patient-care incidents, medication
errors, patient injuries, and the number of complaints filed with regulatory
would make it a felony to assault any RN or
The PEF Nurses Committee spent June 2 meeting with key legislative staff in the
state Senate to advocate for safe staffing and safe lifting bills. However, less
than a week later, the Senate coup shut down all productive action in that
Two of the bills passed by the Assembly supported by PEF try to establish pay
equity and curb pay discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.
Another bill would protect the quality of air in state buildings. And two bills
introduced by Assembly Member Richard Brodsky would impose greater
accountability on independent public authorities and limit their use of
The Assembly also passed a bill, long sought by PEF, to stop the assignment of
state parole officers to collect supervision fees from parolees.