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State bills quietly signed into law

Quietly, more than 50 pieces of legislation were signed into law in October by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Many of the bills are local matters for communities throughout the state. A few, however, will have some statewide impact. Among them are the following:

¯ A.10464/S.8464A, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Middletown, and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, among others which that continues an agricultural tax assessment for farm owners who may not qualify in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related emergency declarations. The bill was passed unanimously July 21 in the state Assembly and unanimously July 22 in the state Senate. The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Jen Metzger, D-Middletown.

“Currently, state law provides for reduced property tax bills for land in agricultural production by limiting the property tax assessment of such land to its prescribed agricultural assessment value. To be eligible, generally, an agricultural enterprise must average at least $10,000 in gross sales of agricultural products over the preceding two years if it has more than seven acres of land and at least $50,000 in sales if it has fewer than seven acres,” Gunther wrote in her legislative justification. “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, farmers have seen their sales plummet. In some cases, they have had to throw away their product because there wasn’t a market for it. This bill would ensure that farmers don’t lose their agricultural property tax exemption due to the effects of the closures of businesses and lost sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state and federal response to the pandemic.”

¯ A.8608/S.6836, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and Metzger in the Senate, amending the Vehicle and Traffic Law to make it a violation to park a gasoline-powered vehicle in a parking space designated for electric vehicles. The bill passed the Assembly unanimously and was approved 57-3 in the state Senate, with state Sen. George Borrello voting in favor.

“Reserving parking spaces for electric vehicles must be enforceable,” Paulin wrote in her legislative justification. “This is important for practical reasons as well as public policy reasons. Practical reasons include that owners of electric vehicles need solutions for charging their vehicles when they are away from home for extended periods of time. Unlike vehicles powered by gasoline, which can be refueled at countless local gasoline filling stations, parking spots for electric vehicles to park may be few and far between, and should be electric-cars charging limited to use by electric vehicles. For public policy reasons, including conservation of resources, the state should make it easier for electric vehicles to park and charge for the purpose of encouraging such behavior.”

¯ A.5952A/S3159A, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-New York City, and Sen. Pete Harckham, D-Peekskill, to prohibit life insurance companies from denying insurance to those who have been prescribed medication to block the effects of opioids. The legislation passed unanimously in the state Senate and 139-2 in the Assembly, with both Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voting in favor.

“The Surgeon General has made a call for the increased availability of naloxone,” Rosenthal wrote in her legislative justification. “To aid in this effort, nurses and healthcare professionals have obtained the lifesaving drugs without a patient specific prescription. By carrying it, these individuals can potentially save a life. Unfortunately, this means that this drug will appear on their active medication lists, and life insurers have been denying these individuals life insurance coverage solely on the basis that they carry naloxone. We believe that this discriminatory practice must end.”

¯ A.8873A/S.7427B passed the Assembly and Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Jose Serrano, D-New York City, and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-New York City, establishes a historic business preservation registry in the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for businesses that have been in operation at least 50 years and contributed to their communities’ history.

“However, many small businesses, including many historic businesses, are struggling to stay open in the face of rising costs as well as increasing competition from e-commerce,” O’Donnell wrote in his legislative justification. “A historic business registry will allow our state to recognize and honor historic businesses from across the state, while providing educational and promotional assistance to businesses in the registry to ensure their continued viability and success.”

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