Understanding the NY legislation set to go into effect in 2023

January 1, 2023 – Albany, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul takes the oath of office and delivers an inaugural address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

 

By Alicia Venter

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As the year came to a close, Governor Kathy Hochul had a busy two weeks. She became the first woman to be sworn into a full term as governor of New York on Jan. 1, and in the month prior, she signed numerous pending state legislation into law.

Notably, she signed a bill that prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status and immigration status is illegal in New York.

This law will expand the protections from the NYS Division of Human Rights, which currently investigates cases in which individuals have been potentially discriminated against due to their immigration status.

State Senator John Liu and State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz came together with activists on Dec. 29 in front of Flushing Library to applaud the signing of this bill (S6586A/A6328A).

​​“We appreciate Governor Hochul for signing this legislation in recognition that our state is made greater by the vast contributions of talented and aspiring people from everywhere in the world who adopt New York as their new home,” Liu said in a statement. “Unfortunately, even as they pursue the American Dream, they are stymied by obsolete federal laws and byzantine bureaucracies that prolong their path to citizenship and subject them to bias and discrimination. This bill will help provide equal opportunity in employment, housing, and other needs that all New Yorkers should have access to.”

The first state program in the nation allowing individuals to be reimbursed for the costs of kidney and liver donations came from the governor’s office this week.

The legislation (S.1594/A.146A) amends the public health, tax and social services laws to enact the “New York State Living Donor Support Act,” which will establish a program to cover the extra costs that come with organ donation for New York residents who donate to a fellow New Yorker. The law comes in an effort to eliminate financial barriers to organ donation and, as a result, reduce wait times for organ transplants and address the organ shortage in New York.

As of publication, there are over 8,000 people on transplant wait lists, most of whom are awaiting a kidney, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

A legislative package (S.3897/A.8936-A) supporting pedestrians, bikers and transit riders included increased funding for “Complete Street” projects.

A Complete Street is a roadway designed for all roadway users — not just drivers.

This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders as well as motorists. It also makes an effort to focus on children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

With this legislation, the state’s contribution to the non-federally funded portion of the project increases to 87.5 percent.

New legislation (S.3959-B/A.7822-C) will require the non-voting transit dependent representative be moved into a voting position on transportation authorities’ boards. In short, this new legislation will provide a vote — and a voice — to riders who permanently rely on transit services including bikeshares, buses and paratransit.

To protect existing labor laws on behalf of workers, Hochul signed legislation (S.5994C/A.1338C) that establishes a registration system for contractors and subcontractors engaged in public work and covered private projects. This law will require contractors and subcontractors to provide a series of disclosures about their businesses every two years with the Department of Labor.

The department will determine whether a contractor or subcontractor is fit to registers based on previous labor law and workers compensation law violations, including prevailing wage requirements. This law will create a publicly available database.

Furthermore, notable previously signed laws that are set to go into effect in 2023 include the establishment of a task force and annual report to examine social media and violent extremism.

The Electric Vehicle Rights Act, which prevents a homeowners association from adopting or enforcing any rules or regulations that would effectively prohibit, or impose unreasonable limitations on the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station, is set to go into effect on Jan. 21.

In this year, student-athletes will be able to receive endorsement compensation, and New York schools will be prohibited from taking away the scholarships or eligibility of any athlete making money from such endorsements.

100 Years Ago: One Last Fateful Job for Truck 142

The Union Course station at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, the scene of a tragic accident 100 years ago that took the lives of 3 firefighters.

By Ed Wendell

It was a quarter to six on the evening of February 6th, 1923 and the residents of Woodhaven and Ozone Park were hunkered down, waiting out a heavy snowstorm. The streets were mostly empty.

The firemen of Truck 142 in Ozone Park were waiting for the night shift to arrive when they were alerted to a nearby fire. Five firemen hopped on the truck and drove into the storm, their route hampered by poor visibility and snow and ice on the roads.

Meanwhile, at the Union Course Station of the Long Island Railroad, Grade Crossing Watchman Joseph Rubin was at his post. In the tower was Robert Brinkley and both men were having trouble seeing either way through the wind and the snow on Atlantic Avenue.

The Union Course Station at the intersection of Rockaway and Atlantic was nearly 90 years old at the time; it was built to service the famed Union Course racetrack but that had closed over 50 years earlier. Residents crossing from one neighborhood to another had no choice but to step over the tracks to do so.

Firefighter Michael Hanley (31) was driving the truck with John Dunne (31), James Griffin (39), William Bine (33) and Adolph Lasch (34) in tow. When they arrived at the crossing, the gates were down, and a local train had just pulled into the station.

Hanley signaled to Rubin and Brinkley to hold the local train and raise the gates so they could cross. Rubin peered up and down Atlantic Avenue and, seeing no danger, signaled Brinkley to raise the gates. It was a tragic decision.

The truck had just started to cross the tracks when to their horror, a Brooklyn-bound express train came speeding out of the driving snowstorm.

By the time Hanley saw the train, the truck was halfway across the tracks and he had no choice but to try and finish the crossing. They had no choice, but they also had no chance.

The train hit the firetruck with such force that it was carried nearly three blocks before the motorman could bring it to a stop. The firetruck, which weighed nearly six tons, was wrecked beyond repair and recognition.

A driver who was in a car behind the firetruck painted a horrific picture. “Those unfortunate firemen never had a ghost of a chance,” he told the Leader-Observer. “The whole thing happened so suddenly they never knew what struck them.”

Killed in the collision were Hanley, Dunne and Griffin, leaving behind 3 widows and 11 children combined.

Within minutes help arrived, and firefighter Lasch was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital with a fractured skull (he eventually recovered). Firefighter Bine was the only one who had time to jump, and he was treated for shock and lacerations.

The condemnation of the Long Island Railroad was swift and furious. The grade crossings along Atlantic Avenue, which had people dodging trains and automobiles on a road that was busy round the clock, had led to many tragedies over the years.

“There is no more dangerous crossing than the Union Course station,” a front-page editorial in the Leader-Observer thundered. “Night and day Rockaway Boulevard is crowded with vehicular traffic while Shaw Avenue (now 80th Street) is used by thousands of commuters and hundreds of school children every day.”

Over time, safety improvements would be made along the route, but it always remained a dangerous crossing. That danger would eventually be eliminated when the entire line was submerged below Atlantic Avenue nearly 2 decades later.

In the meantime, three families were left without a father and two communities mourned the death of three heroes who almost reached the end of their shift before being called on one last fateful job. May the souls of firefighters Hanley, Dunne and Griffin Rest in Peace and may their sacrifices never be forgotten.

This tragic tale will be one of the many related in “The Mayor of Woodhaven: Tales of 1923,” a look back to life in Woodhaven 100 years ago. 1923 was an interesting year in the history of Woodhaven as it began to transform into the community that we are familiar with today.

This presentation will premiere via Zoom on Tuesday, January 10th at 8 p.m. And it will be repeated on the 100th anniversary of this tragic accident (at 7 p.m. on Monday February 6th) at historic Neir’s Tavern, which is located just a few blocks from the site of that tragic night a century ago. Both presentations are free, email us at [email protected] for more information.

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