Historic Session Yields Progress for our Community

This year’s legislative session has been unlike any other due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although our work in Albany was interrupted, the Assembly convened for a rare summer session over four days last month to address a large volume of bills.

Among the significant bills that advanced were several that I co-sponsored, many of which strengthen protections for Western New Yorkers. One bill ensures information collected through contact tracing for COVID-19 is kept confidential. Contact tracing is vital but will not work unless people know that their information will be protected.

Another important bill protects construction workers by establishing a registry of workplace fatalities in the construction industry. The Department of Labor would also have to maintain an online database of workplace fatalities. This data will be used to tailor remedies to protect those most at risk.

To protect small business owners, we passed the Small Business Truth in Lending Act. This bill requires uniform disclosures for non-bank commercial lenders. These entities, which have proliferated in recent years, provide our small businesses with lending products and, unfortunately, the interest, costs and fees disclosed can vary widely. This has made it difficult for small business owners to compare different products and can lead to a cycle of debt.

So-called “zombie properties” invite crime, lower property values and place an undue burden on local governments. I co-sponsored a bill requiring that a mortgage servicer's name and telephone number be listed for any mortgage foreclosure of a one- to four-family residential property. With this information listed, local municipal officials will have an efficient way to contact the loan servicer to ensure that maintenance obligations are enforced.

On the environmental front, the Assembly passed legislation that would ban a class of man-made and potentially harmful chemicals called PFAs from food packaging containers used in New York. I also proudly co-sponsored a bill by my colleague Sean Ryan that would give Class "C" waterways used for boating, fishing and other activities, including our own Ellicott Creek, the same protections provided to waterways classified as streams.

The Protect Our Courts Act would ensure that all members of the community are able to participate in the justice system without fear of immigration-related civil arrests while going to or returning from a court proceeding. Organizations that serve immigrants and refugees cheered this bill as humane and fair.

Meanwhile, I also supported other various legislation to require a five-year capital plan by the Department of Transportation, expand high-speed broadband access and promote the game of cricket, a sport with growing popularity in our town.

Protecting the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers was a recurring theme in all this legislation. If these bills also pass in the Senate they’ll head to the governor’s desk for his consideration. But our work this session is not done. We expect to reconvene to address the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s finances as those impacts become clearer.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 634-1895 or McMahonK@nyassembly.gov.