Regular Session - February 22, 2021

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 1                NEW YORK STATE SENATE

 2                          

 3                          

 4               THE STENOGRAPHIC RECORD

 5                          

 6                          

 7                          

 8                          

 9                  ALBANY, NEW YORK

10                  February 22, 2021

11                      3:52 p.m.

12                          

13                          

14                   REGULAR SESSION

15  

16  

17  

18  SENATOR ROXANNE J. PERSAUD, Acting President

19  ALEJANDRA N. PAULINO, ESQ., Secretary

20  

21  

22  

23  

24  

25  


                                                               752

 1                P R O C E E D I N G S

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 3   Senate will come to order.  

 4                I ask everyone present to please 

 5   rise and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

 6                (Whereupon, the assemblage recited 

 7   the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.)

 8                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:  Reverend 

 9   Heather Kirk-Davidoff, of Westminster 

10   Presbyterian Church, will deliver today's 

11   invocation. 

12                REVEREND KIRK-DAVIDOFF:   Holy God, 

13   we invite Your presence and Your power into this 

14   chamber this afternoon.  

15                None of us are here in this room on 

16   our own.  Behind each of us are our families, our 

17   communities, our friends and mentors who support 

18   us and hold us accountable.  We call them to mind 

19   now.  

20                Behind each of the elected officials 

21   here today are millions of constituents, each 

22   with their stories and dreams, their challenges 

23   and their gifts.  We call them to mind now.

24                In this room are the memories of the 

25   people who have come before us, who have gathered 


                                                               753

 1   in this room to forge agreements, to state 

 2   objections, to speak and to listen.  We call them 

 3   to mind now.

 4                None of us here in this room stands 

 5   alone, Holy God.  In these moments before our 

 6   work begins, we call to mind all of those who 

 7   stand with us, seen and unseen.  

 8                May the work we do today be a credit 

 9   to those who have raised us and shaped us.  

10                May the work we do today be an 

11   honest service to those who we represent, 

12   especially the most vulnerable.  

13                May the work we do today honor those 

14   who came before us in this room and all of those 

15   who have labored to create and to uphold our 

16   democracy.  

17                And may the work we do today give 

18   glory to you, Holy God.  Inspire us to speak 

19   clearly, enable us to listen well, and empower us 

20   to discern wisely.  

21                And let the people say amen.  

22                (Response of "Amen.")

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Reading 

24   of the Journal.

25                THE SECRETARY:   In Senate, Sunday, 


                                                               754

 1   February 21, 2021, the Senate met pursuant to 

 2   adjournment.  The Journal of Saturday, 

 3   February 20, 2021, was read and approved.  On 

 4   motion, Senate adjourned.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Without 

 6   objection, the Journal stands approved as read.

 7                Presentation of petitions.

 8                Messages from the Assembly.

 9                Messages from the Governor.

10                Reports of standing committees.

11                Reports of select committees.

12                Communications and reports from 

13   state officers.  

14                Motions and resolutions.

15                Senator Gianaris.

16                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

17   on behalf of Senator Addabbo, I wish to call up 

18   Senate Print 1463, recalled from the Assembly, 

19   which is now at the desk.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

21   Secretary will read.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 88, 

23   Senate Print 1463, by Senator Addabbo, an act to 

24   amend Chapter 473 of the Laws of 2010 amending 

25   the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding 


                                                               755

 1   Law.

 2                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Move to 

 3   reconsider the vote by which this bill was 

 4   passed.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 6   Secretary will call the roll on reconsideration.

 7                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.  

 9                SENATOR GIANARIS:   I now offer the 

10   following amendments.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

12   amendments are received.

13                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

14   Madam President.  

15                Amendments are also offered to the 

16   following Third Reading Calendar bills:  

17                Sponsored by Senator Gianaris, on 

18   page 12, Calendar 119, Senate Print 1034; 

19                And on behalf of Senator Parker, on 

20   page 17, Calendar 197, Senate Print 1579.

21                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

22   amendments are received, and the bills shall 

23   retain their place on the Third Reading Calendar.

24                SENATOR GIANARIS:   I also move to 

25   commit the following calendar bills to the 


                                                               756

 1   Committee on Rules:  

 2                Senate Bill Numbers 598B, 612A, 553, 

 3   614B, 1783, 1784A, 3058, 3061A, and 3185.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   So 

 5   ordered.

 6                SENATOR GIANARIS:   At this time can 

 7   we take up previously adopted Resolution 353, by 

 8   Senator Hinchey, read its title only, and 

 9   recognize Senator Hinchey on the resolution.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

11   Secretary will read.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

13   353, by Senator Hinchey, mourning the death of 

14   Frances G. Tonko, beloved friend, mother, and 

15   pillar in her community.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

17   Hinchey on the resolution.

18                SENATOR HINCHEY:   Thank you.

19                Today I have the honor of sponsoring 

20   the resolution which celebrates the life of 

21   Frances G. Tonko, a beloved Amsterdam community 

22   member who passed away in late January, just 

23   two and a half months shy of her 100th birthday, 

24   leaving behind a beautiful lifelong legacy of 

25   service.  


                                                               757

 1                Frances was a beacon of light to all 

 2   who knew her.  I've heard incredible stories 

 3   about Frances through her son, my friend and our 

 4   colleague Congressman Paul Tonko, of whom she was 

 5   deeply proud.  These stories include those of 

 6   Frances buzzing around Amsterdam, collecting 

 7   signatures, campaigning, and beaming with pride 

 8   for the congressman back when he made history in 

 9   Montgomery County as the youngest person ever 

10   elected to the county's Board of Supervisors.  

11                I know that both Frances and her 

12   late husband Stanley served as strong role models 

13   for Congressman Tonko and were grounding pillars 

14   of his campaigns throughout the years, supporting 

15   him every step of the way.  

16                Frances was a woman of many talents, 

17   and she distinguished herself by her sincere 

18   dedication to the welfare of her community, as a 

19   member of St. Stanislaus Church and the Ladies 

20   Rosary Society, St. Mary's Club 60, and as a past 

21   member of the Montgomery County Women's 

22   Democratic Club.  And talk about dedication -- 

23   she was also recognized by former Governor Mario 

24   Cuomo as New York Blood donor of the Year.  

25                Above all, Frances loved her family, 


                                                               758

 1   her friends and her community.  And while this 

 2   great loss is felt by so many, we are incredibly 

 3   lucky to have had her among us as a cherished 

 4   friend and neighbor for all of her 99 years.  

 5                Our thoughts and deepest condolences 

 6   are with Frances's son, Congressman Tonko; her 

 7   daughter, Patricia; and all of her family and 

 8   loved ones.  

 9                Thank you.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

11   resolution was previously adopted on 

12   February 9th.

13                Senator Gianaris.

14                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

15   a couple of weeks ago Senator Hinchey had her 

16   first bill passed, and this was her first 

17   resolution.  So let's congratulate 

18   Senator Hinchey.  

19                (Standing ovation.)

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:    

21   Congratulations, Senator Hinchey, on your first 

22   resolution.

23                SENATOR GIANARIS:   At the request 

24   of the Senator, that resolution is open for 

25   cosponsorship.


                                                               759

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 2   resolution is open for cosponsorship.  Should you 

 3   choose not to be a cosponsor,  please notify the 

 4   desk.

 5                Senator Gianaris.  

 6                SENATOR GIANARIS:   There will be an 

 7   immediate meeting of the Rules Committee in 

 8   Room 332.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:    There 

10   is an immediate meeting of the Rules Committee in 

11   Room 332.

12                SENATOR GIANARIS:   The Senate will 

13   stand at ease.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

15   Senate will stand at ease.

16                (Whereupon, the Senate stood at ease 

17   at 4:00 p.m.)

18                (Whereupon, the Senate reconvened at 

19   4:09 p.m.)

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

21   Senate will return to order. 

22                Senator Gianaris.  

23                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

24   is there a report of the Rules Committee at the 

25   desk?  


                                                               760

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   There is 

 2   a report of the Rules Committee at the desk.

 3                The Secretary will read.

 4                THE SECRETARY:   Senator 

 5   Stewart-Cousins, from the Committee on Rules, 

 6   reports the following bills:  

 7                Senate Print 553, by 

 8   Senator Sanders, an act to amend the 

 9   Public Health Law;

10                Senate Print 598B, by Senator May, 

11   an act in relation to enacting the "Reimagining 

12   Long-Term Care Task Force"; 

13                Senate Print 612A, by Senator May, 

14   an act to amend the Elder Law; 

15                Senate Print 614B, by Senator May, 

16   an act to amend the Public Health Law and the 

17   Social Services Law; 

18                Senate Print 830B, by 

19   Senator Comrie, an act to amend the Election Law, 

20   the Criminal Procedure Law, the Executive Law and 

21   the Correction Law; 

22                Senate Print 1783, by 

23   Senator Skoufis, an act directing the Department 

24   of Health to establish and implement an infection 

25   inspection audit; 


                                                               761

 1                Senate Print 1784A, by 

 2   Senator Skoufis, an act to amend the 

 3   Social Services Law; 

 4                Senate Print 3058, by 

 5   Senator Rivera, an act to amend the Public Health 

 6   Law; 

 7                Senate Print 3061A, by 

 8   Senator Rivera, an act to amend the Public Health 

 9   Law; 

10                Senate Print 3185, by Senator 

11   Skoufis, an act to amend the Public Health Law; 

12                Senate Print 3784A, by Senator 

13   Comrie, an act to amend the Public Service Law;

14                Senate Print 4336A, by Senator 

15   Rivera, an act to amend the Public Health Law; 

16                Senate Print 4681, by 

17   Senator Gounardes, an act to amend the Retirement 

18   and Social Security Law; 

19                Senate Print 4893, by Senator 

20   Rivera, an act to amend the Public Health Law; 

21                And Senate Print 4960, by Senator 

22   Mayer, an act to amend the Public Service Law.

23                All bills reported direct to third 

24   reading.

25                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Move to accept 


                                                               762

 1   the report of the Rules Committee.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   All in 

 3   favor of accepting the Committee on Rules report 

 4   signify by saying aye.

 5                (Response of "Aye.")

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Opposed, 

 7   nay.

 8                (No response.)

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

10   report is accepted and before the house.

11                SENATOR GIANARIS:   At this time, 

12   Madam President, let's take up the reading of the 

13   calendar.  

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

15   Secretary will read.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 83, 

17   Senate Print 546, by Senator Mayer, an act to 

18   amend the Education Law.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

20   last section.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

22   act shall take effect on the first of September.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

24   roll.

25                (The Secretary called the roll.)


                                                               763

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 2   the results.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 5   is passed.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 84, 

 7   Senate Print 912, by Senator Mayer, an act to 

 8   amend the Education Law.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

10   last section.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

12   act shall take effect July 1, 2021.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

14   roll.

15                (The Secretary called the roll.)

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

17   the results.  

18                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

19   Calendar 84, those Senators voting in the 

20   negative are Senators Akshar, Borrello, Boyle, 

21   Griffo, Helming, Jordan, Lanza, Martucci, 

22   Mattera, Oberacker, O'Mara, Ortt, Palumbo, Rath, 

23   Ritchie, Serino, Stec, Tedisco and Weik.

24                Ayes, 44.  Nays, 19.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 


                                                               764

 1   is passed.

 2                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 86, 

 3   Senate Print 1379, by Senator Brooks, an act to 

 4   amend the General Municipal Law.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

 6   last section.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Section 9.  This 

 8   act shall take effect on the 180th day after it 

 9   shall have become a law.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

11   roll.

12                (The Secretary called the roll.)

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

14   the results.

15                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

16   Calendar Number 86, those Senators voting in the 

17   negative are Senators Krueger and Weik.

18                Ayes, 61.  Nays, 2.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

20   is passed.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

22   103, Senate Print 192, by Senator Thomas, an act 

23   to amend the General Municipal Law.

24                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Lay it aside for 

25   the day, please.


                                                               765

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 2   will be laid aside for the day.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 4   132, Senate Print 1138, by Senator Harckham, an 

 5   act authorizing the Commissioner of 

 6   General Services to convey real property in 

 7   Westchester County.

 8                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   There is 

 9   a home-rule message at the desk.  

10                Read the last section.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Section 5.  This 

12   act shall take effect immediately.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

14   roll.

15                (The Secretary called the roll.)

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

17   the results.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

20   is passed.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

22   193, Senate Print 1800, by Senator Savino, an act 

23   to amend the Economic Development Law.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

25   last section.


                                                               766

 1                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

 2   act shall take effect immediately.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

 4   roll.

 5                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 7   the results.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

10   is passed.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

12   220, Senate Print 498, by Senator Breslin, an act 

13   to amend the Insurance Law.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

15   last section.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Section 4.  This 

17   act shall take effect immediately.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

19   roll.

20                (The Secretary called the roll.)

21                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

22   the results.

23                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

25   is passed.


                                                               767

 1                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 2   272, Senate Print 62, by Senator Persaud, an act 

 3   to amend the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

 5   last section.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Section 6.  This 

 7   act shall take effect one year after it shall 

 8   have become a law.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

10   roll.

11                (The Secretary called the roll.)

12                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

13   the results.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

16   is passed.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

18   274, Senate Print 262, by Senator Myrie, an act 

19   to amend the Highway Law.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

21   last section.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

23   act shall take effect on the 60th day after it 

24   shall have become a law.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 


                                                               768

 1   roll.

 2                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 4   the results.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

 6   Calendar 274, those Senators voting in the 

 7   negative are Senators Akshar, Borrello, Boyle, 

 8   Gallivan, Helming, Jordan, Lanza, Martucci, 

 9   Mattera, Oberacker, Ortt, Palumbo, Rath, Ritchie, 

10   Serino, Stec, Tedisco and Weik.

11                Ayes, 45.  Nays, 18.

12                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

13   is passed.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

15   291, Senate Print Number 3992, by Senator 

16   Reichlin-Melnick, an act to amend the Real 

17   Property Tax Law.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

19   last section.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

21   act shall take effect immediately.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

23   roll.

24                (The Secretary called the roll.)

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 


                                                               769

 1   the results.  

 2                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 4   is passed.

 5                Senator Gianaris, that completes the 

 6   reading of today's calendar.

 7                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Can we please 

 8   take up the supplemental calendar, 

 9   Madam President.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

11   Secretary will read.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

13   329, Senate Print 598B, by Senator May, an act in 

14   relation to enacting the "Reimagining Long-Term 

15   Care Task Force."  

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

17   last section.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Section 6.  This 

19   act shall take effect immediately.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

21   roll.

22                (The Secretary called the roll.)

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

24   May to explain her vote.

25                SENATOR MAY:   Thank you, 


                                                               770

 1   Madam President.

 2                You'll hear a lot from me today 

 3   because this is a big day for those of us who 

 4   have been working on nursing homes.  

 5                I want to thank the leadership.  I 

 6   want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the 

 7   aisle.  I want to thank my colleagues in the 

 8   Assembly.  And I especially want to thank all the 

 9   groups and individuals who have come forward and 

10   told their tragic stories in order to keep the 

11   tragedy from happening to people in the future.

12                This is our moment to rethink long 

13   term care in New York State.  The crisis in the 

14   workforce and in the quality of life for our 

15   seniors long predates the pandemic, but now we 

16   have a moment when people are paying attention 

17   and maybe we can actually make real change.

18                One thing the pandemic has done is 

19   shown us what works and what doesn't.  There was 

20   an article in Newsday just this weekend about the 

21   shape of nursing homes in the future, which may 

22   be very different from what we have seen in the 

23   past.  And this task force that this bill puts 

24   together will bring together experts from many 

25   different perspectives to really chart a better 


                                                               771

 1   path forward.  

 2                So I vote aye.  Thank you.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

 4   May to be recorded in the affirmative.

 5                Announce the results.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

 7   Calendar 329, those Senators voting in the 

 8   negative are Senators Palumbo and Weik.

 9                Ayes, 61.  Nays, 2.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

11   is passed.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

13   330, Senate Print 612A, by Senator May, an act to 

14   amend the Elder Law.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

16   last section.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Section 4.  This 

18   act shall take effect immediately.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

20   roll.

21                (The Secretary called the roll.)

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

23   May to explain her vote.

24                SENATOR MAY:   Thank you again.

25                So it has never been more important 


                                                               772

 1   for residents and families in nursing homes to 

 2   have a way to report issues and get answers.  The 

 3   Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is mandated by 

 4   the federal government; every state has it.  

 5                In New York, we have implemented it 

 6   in a kind of less than ideal way, and it is 

 7   primarily staffed by volunteers who are mostly 

 8   retirees.  They have not been able to get into 

 9   nursing homes.  They are vastly understaffed, and 

10   they don't really have a clear way to report the 

11   issues that they find.

12                So this bill addresses a number of 

13   those issues.  I hope in the longer term we'll be 

14   able to really overhaul it and perhaps have it 

15   staffed by paid staff in the future.  But for 

16   now, this bill makes a big difference in raising 

17   the profile, giving them a hotline to the 

18   Department of Health so that they can report 

19   issues, and I hope making the whole program work 

20   better for the residents and their families.  

21                Thank you.  I vote aye.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

23   May to be recorded in the affirmative.

24                Announce the announce the results.

25                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 


                                                               773

 1   Calendar 330, voting in the negative:  

 2   Senator Akshar.  

 3                Ayes, 62.  Nays, 1.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 5   is passed.

 6                There is a substitution at the desk.  

 7   The Secretary will read.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Sanders 

 9   moves to discharge, from the Committee on Rules, 

10   Assembly Bill Number 2037 and substitute it for 

11   the identical Senate Bill 553, Third Reading 

12   Calendar 347.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

14   substitution is so ordered.

15                The Secretary will read.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

17   347, Assembly Print Number 2037, by 

18   Assemblymember Dinowitz, an act to amend the 

19   Public Health Law.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

21   last section.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

23   act shall take effect on the 90th day after it 

24   shall have become a law.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 


                                                               774

 1   roll.

 2                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 4   the results.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 7   is passed.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 9   348, Senate Print Number 614B, by Senator May, an 

10   act to amend the Public Health Law and the 

11   Social Services Law.

12                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

13   last section.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

15   act shall take effect on the 45th day after it 

16   shall have become a law.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

18   roll.

19                (The Secretary called the roll.)

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

21   May to explain her vote.

22                SENATOR MAY:   Thank you, 

23   Madam President.

24                Back in June I had a letter from a 

25   constituent whose mother had gone into a nursing 


                                                               775

 1   home for rehab after surgery, and a few weeks 

 2   later her mother died of three separate 

 3   infections that had set in after the surgery.  

 4                It wasn't a death from COVID-19, and 

 5   she didn't blame the staff, who were totally 

 6   overwhelmed and had not picked up on the 

 7   infections.  She blamed her mother's isolation, 

 8   she blamed the fact that she herself had not been 

 9   able to get into the nursing home to see her 

10   mother and recognize that there was a problem.

11                Since then, I and all my colleagues 

12   have been hearing almost daily from people in our 

13   districts and across the state who have tragic 

14   stories about isolation in nursing homes.  People 

15   are dying of isolation.  They're dying because 

16   they are depressed, because they're refusing to 

17   eat.  They're dying because they have some 

18   underlying condition that isn't being picked up 

19   by the staff because they are so overworked.  

20   They're dying because they have cognitive decline 

21   that is rapidly accelerating as a result of their 

22   isolation.

23                This bill would create a system 

24   where they can designate one or two people to 

25   come in and be personal care visitors on a 


                                                               776

 1   regular basis to see them, to pay attention to 

 2   what's going on with them, and to raise their 

 3   quality of life.

 4                And I want to thank Statewide Senior 

 5   Action and AARP and all of the advocates who have 

 6   told just heartbreaking stories about this issue.  

 7   I also want to thank my staff and particularly 

 8   Carol Boll, who worked incredibly hard on this 

 9   bill to make it a reality.

10                I want to thank the Governor, too, 

11   who in the last couple of days has changed the 

12   regulations about nursing homes to make it easier 

13   for people to get in -- which is a great step, 

14   and I welcome it.  

15                But this bill will make it a 

16   permanent thing that there will be a system for 

17   people to have visitors.  It will recognize how 

18   important it is that people have the kind of 

19   personal attention that they get from family 

20   members and loved ones but that the staff can't 

21   necessarily give them.

22                So I welcome the Governor's changes, 

23   but this bill will make a big difference for 

24   people in New York for a long time to come.  

25                So again, I vote aye, and thank you, 


                                                               777

 1   Madam President.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

 3   May to be recorded in the affirmative.

 4                Senator Harckham to explain his 

 5   vote.

 6                SENATOR HARCKHAM:   I shifted over 

 7   one, due to social distancing.  Can we switch the 

 8   mike over here, please?

 9                SENATOR GIANARIS:   They're all on.

10                SENATOR HARCKHAM:   All right.  

11   Thank you very much.

12                Madam President, terrific to see you 

13   up there.  

14                I would like to first of all thank 

15   the Majority Leader and leadership for bringing 

16   this essential package to the floor.  It's 

17   vitally important, and I'm glad that we're doing 

18   it as aggressively as we are.  

19                I also want to thank Senator May for 

20   her leadership on long-term-care issues.  And 

21   while some have resorted to demagoguery, 

22   Senator May has provided thoughtful and 

23   responsible leadership on these issues, and I 

24   thank her for that and particularly for this 

25   bill.  


                                                               778

 1                In her remarks she touched upon a 

 2   story about a patient whose family member was not 

 3   there to be part of the care team.  And so often 

 4   with people in nursing homes, a vital cog in that 

 5   care team is a family member, someone who is 

 6   there on a regular basis, who knows that patient 

 7   and can understand how they're doing, understand 

 8   how they're doing physically and how they're 

 9   doing with their emotional and social well-being.

10                We talk a lot about our students and 

11   their social/emotional well-being and how that's 

12   been impacted during COVID and why we need to get 

13   them back to school.  It's also so vital in our 

14   long-term-care settings, and particularly with 

15   people with cognitive disabilities.  

16                And we've heard the stories of 

17   folks, whether it be in the state nursing home in 

18   Montrose or private nursing homes in the 

19   district, they have seen their family member 

20   deteriorate throughout this isolation.  And 

21   that's why this bill is so important.  

22                And I thank the sponsor, I thank the 

23   leadership.  I vote aye.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

25   Harckham to be recorded in the affirmative.


                                                               779

 1                Senator Jackson to explain his vote.

 2                SENATOR JACKSON:   Thank you, 

 3   Madam President.

 4                My colleagues, I rise to explain my 

 5   support for this bill, which is Bill Number 

 6   S614B, by Senator May.  It provides for the 

 7   authorization and regulation of compassionate 

 8   caregiving visitation at nursing homes and 

 9   residential healthcare facilities.

10                This bill moves us forward towards 

11   setting guidelines for compassionate caregiving 

12   visitation at nursing homes and residential 

13   healthcare facilities.  Every resident in a 

14   nursing home or a long-term facility has the 

15   right to benefit from family support -- who are 

16   an integral part of their care plan -- so they 

17   can live their best lives.

18                And as we have come to terms with 

19   during this COVID-19 pandemic, this level of 

20   family care from loved ones outside can only 

21   happen if they can physically get in to visit 

22   their family relatives.  But since the pandemic 

23   began, family members and even legal guardians of 

24   residents of nursing homes and other residents of 

25   healthcare facilities have not been allowed 


                                                               780

 1   visitation, even if they were an essential part 

 2   of their loved one's caregiving team 

 3   pre-pandemic.

 4                The lack of physical presence of 

 5   these caregivers in residents' lives has taken 

 6   its toll.  Advocates from across the state, 

 7   including a robust family council at a facility 

 8   in my district, have begun urging us to pass 

 9   legislation that allows these so-called 

10   compassionate care visits.  

11                Sadly, at least one of my 

12   constituents has passed away in the meantime, due 

13   to what they call, quote, failure to thrive, and 

14   others remain at risk.  And I memorialize him 

15   today and hope this bill brings his family some 

16   sort of peace.

17                The residents of these facilities 

18   are our grandparents, our mothers, our fathers, 

19   our family, and they deserve better.  And I thank 

20   Senator May and others sponsoring legislation in 

21   this package for their tireless efforts on this 

22   matter.

23                And as a government, we can and must 

24   do better by our elders in long-term-care 

25   facilities to ensure they can all lead a 


                                                               781

 1   dignified life in our state.

 2                Madam President, I proudly vote yes, 

 3   aye. 

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

 5   Jackson to be recorded in the affirmative.

 6                Announce the results.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 8                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 9   is passed.

10                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

11   351, Senate Print 1783, by Senator Skoufis, an 

12   act directing the Department of Health to 

13   establish and implement an infection inspection 

14   audit.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

16   last section.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Section 6.  This 

18   act shall take effect 90 days after it shall have 

19   become a law.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

21   roll.

22                (The Secretary called the roll.)

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

24   the results.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.


                                                               782

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 2   is passed.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 4   352, Senate Print 1784A, by Senator Skoufis, an 

 5   act to amend the Social Services Law.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

 7   last section.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

 9   act shall take effect on the 90th day after it 

10   shall have become a law.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

12   roll.

13                (The Secretary called the roll.)

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

15   the results.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

18   is passed.

19                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

20   354, Senate Print 3058, by Senator Rivera, an act 

21   to amend the Public Health Law.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

23   last section.

24                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

25   act shall take effect immediately.


                                                               783

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

 2   roll.

 3                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 5   the results.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

 7   Calendar Number 354, those Senators voting in the 

 8   negative are Senators Helming and Palumbo.

 9                Ayes, 61.  Nays, 2.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

11   is passed.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

13   356, Senate Print 3061A, by Senator Rivera, an 

14   act to amend the Public Health Law.

15                SENATOR LANZA:   Lay it aside.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Lay it 

17   aside.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

19   357, Senate Print 3185, by Senator Skoufis, an 

20   act to amend the Public Health Law.

21                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

22   last section.

23                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

24   act shall take effect on the 60th day after it 

25   shall have become a law.


                                                               784

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

 2   roll.

 3                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 

 5   the results.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 8   is passed.

 9                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

10   370, Senate Print 4336A, by Senator Rivera, an 

11   act to amend the Public Health Law.

12                SENATOR LANZA:   Lay it aside.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Lay it 

14   aside.

15                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

16   372, Senate Print 4893, by Senator Rivera, an act 

17   to amend the Public Health Law.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Read the 

19   last section.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Section 4.  This 

21   act shall take effect immediately.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

23   roll.

24                (The Secretary called the roll.)

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Announce 


                                                               785

 1   the results.

 2                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

 3   Calendar Number 372, voting in the negative:  

 4   Senator Akshar.

 5                Ayes, 62.  Nays, 1.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 7   is passed.

 8                Senator Gianaris, that completes the 

 9   reading of today's supplemental calendar.

10                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

11   Madam President.  Can we now take up the 

12   controversial calendar.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

14   Secretary will ring the bell.

15                The Secretary will read.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

17   356, Senate Print 3061A, by Senator Rivera, an 

18   act to amend the Public Health Law.  

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

20   Lanza, why do you rise?

21                SENATOR LANZA:   Madam President, I 

22   believe there's an amendment at the desk.  I 

23   waive the reading of that amendment and ask that 

24   you recognize Senator Ortt to be heard.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Thank 


                                                               786

 1   you, Senator Lanza.  

 2                Upon review of the amendment, in 

 3   accordance with Rule 6, Section 4B, I rule it 

 4   nongermane and out of order at this time.

 5                SENATOR LANZA:   Accordingly, 

 6   Madam President, I appeal the ruling of the chair 

 7   and ask that Senator Ortt be recognized.

 8                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 9   appeal has been made and recognized, and 

10   Senator Ortt may be heard.

11                SENATOR ORTT:   Thank you, 

12   Madam President.  

13                I rise to appeal the ruling of the 

14   chair.  The proposed amendment could not be any 

15   more germane to the bill at hand because the 

16   sponsor notes that the bill at hand is designed 

17   to bring transparency to information gathered 

18   during public health emergencies, including 

19   communicable disease outbreaks like COVID-19, and 

20   to require that facility-specific information 

21   regarding such cases and fatalities are made 

22   public.

23                It is ironic because in the last 

24   week the lack of transparency is how we got to 

25   where we are today in the first place.  It has 


                                                               787

 1   taken months to receive any type of transparent 

 2   information from the Department of Health or the 

 3   Governor's office.  And when we finally did get 

 4   the information, we know it was incomplete and 

 5   that it was willfully incomplete.

 6                The Governor must have his emergency 

 7   powers rescinded immediately, and that is what 

 8   this amendment does.  Since May of last year, the 

 9   Republican Conference has been calling for the 

10   Governor's emergency powers to be rescinded.  Our 

11   conference brought an amendment to the floor 

12   14 times this year to rescind those powers, and 

13   each and every time the Majority has voted it 

14   down.

15                The conference brought the amendment 

16   to the floor in May after it was reported 

17   approximately 4500 COVID patients were sent from 

18   hospitals to nursing homes.  Again, the Majority 

19   unanimously voted it down.

20                The conference brought the amendment 

21   to the floor in July after our conference 

22   demanded the Majority use subpoena power to 

23   compel the Governor and Commissioner Zucker to 

24   answer questions about the controversial March 

25   25th order.  Again, the Majority voted that down.


                                                               788

 1                Again, this amendment has been 

 2   brought to the floor 14 times this year.  Today 

 3   marks the 15th.  But there's one difference.  

 4   Today this amendment is a bill sponsored by a 

 5   member of the Majority, Senator Biaggi, who has 

 6   had the courage to actually call out the Governor 

 7   and call for the ending of his emergency powers.  

 8                She, along with 13 other members of 

 9   the Majority, signed on to a letter stating that 

10   it was time to rescind the Governor's emergency 

11   powers.  Today they have the opportunity to do 

12   just that.

13                Yes, it is agreed, we need to review 

14   nursing home policies and do our job.  But all 

15   these things we're passing today don't mean 

16   anything as long as the Governor retains his 

17   emergency powers, because he can simply override 

18   those by executive order.  And therein lies the 

19   problem.  

20                It is high time this body gets back 

21   to a coequal branch of government.  And I want to 

22   be clear.  The latest scandal really has nothing 

23   to do with rescinding the Governor's powers.  Our 

24   conference has called for that for months.  

25   What's needed in the current moment is a federal 


                                                               789

 1   investigation, which is ongoing.

 2                But this is about restoring the 

 3   Legislature to a coequal branch of government.  

 4   It's about being able to provide oversight and 

 5   accountability of an Executive who has shown 

 6   gross disrespect for every member of this body, 

 7   Democrat and Republican -- and, more importantly, 

 8   has shown disrespect for the people that we 

 9   represent and the families who have lost loved 

10   ones in nursing homes by willfully not reporting 

11   the data, by also doing so for political reasons 

12   and potentially to thwart a federal 

13   investigation.

14                It is critical that we move and act 

15   on this bill immediately to restore the 

16   Legislature again as a coequal branch of 

17   government.  For these reasons, Madam President, 

18   I strongly urge you to reconsider your ruling.  

19   We know that there are 20 members of the 

20   Republican Conference and 14 of the Majority who 

21   will support this today, and that's two more than 

22   is needed to pass something through this house.  

23                I urge you to reconsider the ruling, 

24   and I urge my colleagues across the aisle to 

25   support their colleague's bill and rescind the 


                                                               790

 1   Governor's powers in this house today.

 2                Thank you, Madam President.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Thank 

 4   you, Senator.

 5                I want to remind the house that the 

 6   vote is on the procedures of the house and the 

 7   ruling of the chair.

 8                Those in favor of overruling the 

 9   chair signify by saying aye.  

10                SENATOR LANZA:   Request a show of 

11   hands.

12                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

13   we've agreed to waive the showing of hands and 

14   record each member of the Minority in the 

15   affirmative on this vote.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Without 

17   objection, so ordered.

18                Announce the results.

19                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 20.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

21   ruling of the chair stands, and the bill-in-chief 

22   is before the house.

23                Are there any other Senators wishing 

24   to be heard?

25                Seeing and hearing none, debate is 


                                                               791

 1   closed.  The Secretary will ring the bell.

 2                Read the last section.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Section 4.  This 

 4   act shall take effect immediately.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

 6   roll.

 7                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 8                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:    

 9   Senator Rivera to explain his vote.

10                SENATOR RIVERA:   Thank you, 

11   Madam President.  

12                It is a great pleasure to be here, 

13   back in the chamber.  I have not had the 

14   opportunity to be at my desk since -- well, since 

15   last year.  I'm glad to be back here, not only 

16   because I love doing this job, but because this 

17   is a perfect demonstration of how exactly to do 

18   our job. 

19                Madam President, today we're passing 

20   a number of bills, this is the first one -- 

21   actually, we've already passed a few.  But this 

22   is one that are all in response to what many of 

23   us heard not only from family members or friends 

24   or fellow New Yorkers, but also from stakeholders 

25   throughout the last year and particularly during 


                                                               792

 1   the series of hearings, Madam President, that we 

 2   did last year, in conjunction with our Assembly 

 3   colleagues, that were over 30 hours in which we 

 4   were witnesses -- we heard from witnesses who 

 5   told us about all of the issues that they had to 

 6   deal with with their family members and their 

 7   friends, their neighbors, all of the issues that 

 8   existed around nursing homes and hospitals, the 

 9   impact that COVID-19 had on both and that it had 

10   on New Yorkers.

11                So we have put together a piece -- a 

12   few pieces of legislation, Madam President, that 

13   deal with some of the issues that we observed.  

14   And this one today, one of the ones that we're 

15   going to be considering, the one that we're 

16   looking at right now, deals directly with data.  

17                There has been a lot of conversation 

18   about this, Madam President, and I just wanted to 

19   state -- not only thank my colleagues for voting 

20   for this piece of legislation, but also to tell 

21   New Yorkers why it is so essential that we have 

22   correct information.

23                For us to make decisions about how 

24   we're going to shape policy, it is important to 

25   have correct information.  It is unfortunate that 


                                                               793

 1   some folks in this building feel it's necessary 

 2   to stall sharing such information.  And we have 

 3   fought, both publicly and privately, to make sure 

 4   that this information comes to us.

 5                Some of it -- I would certainly 

 6   thank the Attorney General on the record for 

 7   doing her job to make sure that some of this 

 8   information was released.  Also folks from the 

 9   Empire Center, for example, as folks who we might 

10   not agree on much, Madam President, but they 

11   certainly know how to look at data and analyze 

12   it.  

13                Ultimately what this bill does is it 

14   would mandate the State of New York to make sure 

15   that that data is made available to the public.  

16   It would make sure that the deaths of individuals 

17   that occur in hospitals but are from patients or, 

18   shall I say, residents of nursing homes are 

19   accurately recorded.  Such a thing is essential.  

20                We owe it to all the individuals who 

21   lost loved ones during the last year.  I'm glad 

22   that we are doing this today.  We have much more 

23   to do, we have more pieces of legislation to 

24   pass, but ultimately we know that it is our 

25   responsibility to make sure that we protect 


                                                               794

 1   vulnerable New Yorkers.  It is what we are doing 

 2   today, and what we will continue to do.

 3                Thank you, Madam President.  My vote 

 4   is in the affirmative.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:    

 6   Senator Rivera to be recorded in the affirmative.

 7                Announce the results.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

10   is passed.  

11                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

12   370, Senate Print 4336A, by Senator Rivera, an 

13   act to amend the Public Health Law.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

15   Rath.

16                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you, 

17   Madam Chair.  Will the sponsor yield for some 

18   questions?

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

20   sponsor yield?

21                SENATOR RIVERA:   I absolutely will, 

22   Madam President.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

24   sponsor will yield.

25                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you very much.  


                                                               795

 1                It's an honor to be here today.  And 

 2   my first question for the sponsor is if you could 

 3   briefly explain what this bill does and also the 

 4   reasoning for the percentages within the bill.

 5                SENATOR RIVERA:   Absolutely.  Thank 

 6   you so much.  Through you, Madam President.

 7                As I stated just a minute ago, there 

 8   are a few pieces of legislation which we are 

 9   sponsoring and moving today which all correspond 

10   to the issues that we saw over the last year in 

11   nursing homes around the State of New York.

12                This bill in particular relates to a 

13   concern that is a sincere concern that exists 

14   about how much money facilities actually spend on 

15   patient care.  It was a concern that made it 

16   clear to us that even though for the most part 

17   most of the nursing homes around the state, 

18   whether they be for-profit or nonprofit, obey -- 

19   or I should say abide by a standard of spending a 

20   certain amount of money on actual patient care.  

21                We know that there are bad actors 

22   who use the opportunity and the nonclarity in the 

23   law to be able to make some money on the backs of 

24   individuals who they should be taking care of.  

25   So other states have done similar things -- 


                                                               796

 1   New Jersey, Massachusetts.  

 2                But ultimately, working along with 

 3   stakeholders and family members, we came up with 

 4   the idea that 70 percent of the total revenue on 

 5   a yearly basis for nursing homes should be 

 6   utilized for direct patient care.

 7                We came up with that number after, 

 8   again, conversations with stakeholders.  And we 

 9   believe that not only is it the right thing to 

10   do, but it is the right approach.  

11                And I will last point out, 

12   Madam President, that our dear Governor has 

13   obviously thought that there are some good ideas 

14   here, because he took some of these ideas -- not 

15   this bill, though -- and actually put it into his 

16   budget proposal.  

17                So I thank him for recognizing that 

18   we have a good idea, but I would say that we need 

19   to go farther than what the Governor does in the 

20   budget, which is why we present this bill here, 

21   and hopefully we will be able to vote on it.

22                Thank you, Madam President.  Through 

23   you.

24                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

25   Madam President.  Do you as the sponsor think 


                                                               797

 1   that this is --

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

 3   sponsor yield?

 4                SENATOR RIVERA:   I will.

 5                SENATOR RATH:   I'm sorry, does the 

 6   sponsor yield?  Thank you.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 8   sponsor yields.

 9                SENATOR RATH:   Do you think, as the 

10   sponsor, that this is similar to the medical loss 

11   ratio implemented on health plans?  

12                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 

13   Madam President, it is precisely where we got the 

14   idea.  

15                The sense here, again, is that there 

16   is an obligation for folks who are actual 

17   providers of care to provide care.  And so what 

18   we're saying -- Madam President, through you -- 

19   is that if you are responsible for taking care of 

20   the most vulnerable of New Yorkers, that we want 

21   to make sure that as much of that dollar goes to 

22   the actual care of the individual.  

23                So it is from that -- from the 

24   medical loss ratio that we got the idea.  But 

25   this relates to patient care ratio, 


                                                               798

 1   Madam President, through you.  And again, it is 

 2   about making sure that as many dollars as 

 3   possible go to the actual care of the patient, as 

 4   opposed to the pocket of an individual who wants 

 5   to take advantage of that individual.

 6                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

 7   Madam President, will the sponsor continue to 

 8   yield.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

10   sponsor yield?

11                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, Madam 

12   President.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

14   sponsor will yields.

15                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you.  I 

16   perceive also that it is comparable to a medical 

17   loss ratio that's implemented on health plans.  

18                And can the sponsor please explain 

19   how he envisions nursing homes will have the 

20   ability to budget for these ratios when their 

21   revenue is dependent on the number of patients in 

22   the facility at a given time, which is constantly 

23   and routinely changing?  

24                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 

25   Madam President.  First of all, I should mention 


                                                               799

 1   that of the -- just to have some numbers on the 

 2   table, so the State of New York has just over 

 3   600 nursing homes.  Four hundred of them are 

 4   for-profit.  

 5                And I should point out, 

 6   Madam President, that over 50 percent of nursing 

 7   homes in New York State currently abide by these 

 8   percentages.  They are within the range of almost 

 9   70 percent or just above 70 percent of patient 

10   care.

11                So I would remind you, sir, that -- 

12   I'm sorry.  Through you, Madam President, I would 

13   remind everyone in the room that what we're 

14   talking about is how much money, how much revenue 

15   goes into that particular institution every year.  

16   If those -- if there are less patients in that 

17   institution in that particular year, then the 

18   revenue is going to necessarily be less.

19                What we're ultimately talking about 

20   is 70 percent of whatever revenue that particular 

21   institution gets in that year needs to be 

22   utilized for direct patient care, if this bill 

23   were signed into law.

24                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

25   Madam Chair, will the sponsor continue to yield.


                                                               800

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

 2   sponsor yield?

 3                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, ma'am.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 5   sponsor yields.  

 6                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you.  

 7                This morning, in the Health 

 8   Committee, Senator May, the Senate chair on the 

 9   Aging Committee, raised a concern with this bill 

10   which I actually share.  This bill does not 

11   exempt capital expenses from the ratio 

12   calculation.  Let me repeat that:  This bill does 

13   not exempt the capital expenses from the ratio 

14   calculation.

15                However, throughout the pandemic, we 

16   have seen nursing homes that have had to make 

17   substantial changes and massive capital 

18   improvements in their facilities in order to 

19   protect the health and the well-being of their 

20   residents.  Some of these improvements are now 

21   permanent.

22                Would you consider, as the sponsor 

23   of this bill, amending this bill today -- before 

24   passing it -- to exempt capital expenses?

25                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 


                                                               801

 1   Madam chair -- Madam President.  First, it is -- 

 2   it would be important to point out where this 

 3   particularly came from.  The Senator is correct 

 4   that it does not currently include capital 

 5   expenses in that 70 percent.  

 6                The reason for that is that it was 

 7   pointed out to us that -- see, because remember, 

 8   ultimately what we're trying to do here is we're 

 9   trying to identify bad actors and take away from 

10   them the ability to take advantage of the most 

11   vulnerable.  

12                So we've seen some bad actors in 

13   other states, and maybe even some in this state, 

14   who in this type of situation would actually set 

15   up shell companies for real estate companies or 

16   cleaning companies that would then actually have 

17   the money go through the -- the money that would 

18   ultimately go supposedly to patient care would 

19   actually go to companies that are owned, are 

20   subsidiaries of the same owners of the 

21   facilities.  

22                To be able to avert that, we want to 

23   make sure that we eliminate that possibility.

24                Now, I should tell you, though, that 

25   this is not a concern that is inconsequential.  I 


                                                               802

 1   will point out actually my colleague -- not only 

 2   Senator May, but I will point out particularly to 

 3   Senator Gounardes.  

 4                Senator Gounardes came to us with a 

 5   very important distinction.  He talked about a 

 6   particular nursing home in his district which was 

 7   struck by Sandy and, because of where it is, was 

 8   flooded after the storm.  And they made some 

 9   changes that then made this facility operational 

10   above sea level.  Maybe that's not the correct 

11   terminology, but, you know, so that it does not 

12   get flooded in whatever storm happens next.  

13                And now they're concerned about the 

14   costs that are associated with paying back for 

15   those changes which they made which ultimately 

16   made the facility usable.

17                So I will tell you that we are -- 

18   we're certainly considering that, that it is 

19   something that we are looking into.  We are going 

20   to move this bill today.  However, that is 

21   something that we are looking very closely at, 

22   because it is a concern that is a real one.  And 

23   we ultimately do not want to create a situation 

24   in which institutions that are doing everything 

25   that they need to do to take care of their 


                                                               803

 1   patients -- for example, making sure that they do 

 2   not drown if there's a storm that is coming.  

 3   That is a very reasonable, reasonable 

 4   expectation, Madam President.

 5                And so we are certainly taking it 

 6   into consideration.  It is something that I'm 

 7   aware of.  I thank Senator Gounardes and other of 

 8   my colleagues for bringing it up.  And it's 

 9   something that we will consider as we move 

10   towards potentially getting a bill that would be 

11   negotiated with the Assembly and the Governor to 

12   be signed into law.

13                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you, 

14   Madam President.  Will the sponsor continue to 

15   yield?  

16                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

17   sponsor yield?

18                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, 

19   Madam President.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

21   sponsor yields.

22                SENATOR RATH:   First of all, thank 

23   you for your consideration on that.  I appreciate 

24   this.  This is a concern across all of New York 

25   State with our nursing facilities.  


                                                               804

 1                Throughout the year we have seen 

 2   upstate facilities that have been facing major 

 3   staffing shortages when it comes to nursing 

 4   homes.  This has been exacerbated, incredibly, 

 5   during the pandemic.  How does this proposal 

 6   account for the differing circumstances between 

 7   urban and rural nursing facilities?  

 8                SENATOR RIVERA:   Well, through you, 

 9   Madam President.  The concern about staffing is 

10   an absolute real one in all parts of the state, 

11   but particularly in rural parts of the state -- 

12   not only in your district, Senator, but also I 

13   would point out Senator May, who has been 

14   consistent on this issue not only through this 

15   discussion, but going back for as long as she has 

16   been here, talking about the need to make sure 

17   that we put resources to identify staffing, to be 

18   able to train new staffers for places that are 

19   difficult to get to, that do not have the 

20   sufficient staff at this moment.

21                So I would say that that is a 

22   concern that is ongoing.  This bill would 

23   consider that the facility -- because ultimately 

24   it has to do with what the facility spends.  I 

25   cannot force -- you know, if a facility doesn't 


                                                               805

 1   have access to individuals because they cannot 

 2   find people to employ, right, if they have to -- 

 3   let's say if they need 10 individuals to -- I'm 

 4   complete making this number up.  

 5                But let's say that the facility 

 6   needs 10 individuals that are caretakers, that 

 7   need to be trained caretakers, and they can only 

 8   find eight, we will not penalize them for only 

 9   finding eight of the 10 that they should.

10                Ultimately this refers to how much 

11   revenue they're making for that particular year.  

12   So if there's a revenue -- I kind of -- to be 

13   able to understand this better for me, I actually 

14   just did a quick -- I said if there's a nursing 

15   home, let's say a nursing home spends a million 

16   dollars a year -- has a revenue -- I'm sorry, has 

17   revenue of a million dollars, right.  If this 

18   bill passes, they would be required to have 

19   $700,000 of that million dollars be spent toward 

20   direct patient care.  Which could be PPE, food, 

21   housekeeping, medical care, et cetera.  

22                Then of that total million, 400,000, 

23   which would correspond to 40 percent of the 

24   total, would need to be used for staffing.

25                Now, the fact is that they might not 


                                                               806

 1   even spend that much if they do not have -- if 

 2   they can't find the staff.  In that sort of 

 3   situation, there is flexibility for the 

 4   commissioner to make certain -- to make certain 

 5   dispensations, if you will.  I'll read from the 

 6   bill.  It is -- I'm reading from the bill.  "The 

 7   commissioner may adjust the components of the 

 8   direct patient care ratio as appropriate based on 

 9   current financial information reported by nursing 

10   homes and overall performance by the nursing home 

11   related to patient safety, direct patient care 

12   staff ratios, and quality of care."

13                So it allows for flexibility so that 

14   the commissioner may make the determination that 

15   this particular entity is not -- it might not 

16   have met exactly the ratio but is obviously doing 

17   everything that they need to to be able to 

18   fulfill the requirements.  

19                So it is not a very strict -- there 

20   is something that is built into the bill so it 

21   allows for flexibility for the commissioner to 

22   make a determination in the case of a particular 

23   facility.

24                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

25   Madam Chair, will the sponsor continue to yield?  


                                                               807

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

 2   sponsor yield?  

 3                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, 

 4   Madam President.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 6   sponsor yields.

 7                SENATOR RATH:   In the Health 

 8   Committee meeting this morning you said that this 

 9   legislation is a result of conversations with 

10   stakeholders.  What industry stakeholders or 

11   healthcare experts did you consult with in the 

12   preparation of this legislation?

13                SENATOR RIVERA:   We certainly -- we 

14   talked to different -- we certainly talked to 

15   some proprietors of nursing homes.  We talked 

16   to -- we did talk to 1199 as well; they provided 

17   some input.  We talked to some of the experts 

18   that we have in-house.  We talked to patient 

19   advocates.  

20                The list is -- I can't tell you the 

21   exact -- you know, the list of every single 

22   person that we spoke to, but I do think that it 

23   corresponds to a good cross-section of all the 

24   folks who are interested here, whether we're 

25   talking about patient advocates or folks who 


                                                               808

 1   represent the workers or folks who represent the 

 2   owners of facilities.

 3                So I do believe that it was -- that 

 4   as part of this conversation we've actually 

 5   included as many opinions as necessary to be able 

 6   to make an informed bill that best fits New York 

 7   and actually addresses the concerns that we're 

 8   trying to address here.  Which is ultimately, 

 9   again, to make certain the facilities use their 

10   funding to take care of people and not to go into 

11   the pockets of someone.

12                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

13   Madam Chair, will the sponsor continue to yield?  

14                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Does the 

15   sponsor yield?

16                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, 

17   Madam President.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

19   sponsor yields.

20                SENATOR RATH:   This bill was 

21   amended on Wednesday, February 17th.  What does 

22   the amendment do that was drawn up on 

23   February 17th?  

24                SENATOR RIVERA:   There are three 

25   different things that the amendment actually did.  


                                                               809

 1   One of them, it's -- it actually made the 

 2   40 percent as I -- the 40 percent I referred to 

 3   earlier, which is strictly about staffing, it 

 4   included that.  

 5                It also clarified that since there 

 6   are many instances in which a facility might 

 7   actually not hire people in-house but might hire 

 8   a staffing agency, that it would be done at 

 9   85 percent.  Which means that as opposed to 

10   saying if you hire somebody, it's actually 

11   obviously going to cost you more on a day-to-day 

12   basis as a full-time staffer, as opposed to, say, 

13   hiring a staffing agency to fulfill the 

14   requirements of the 10 people that I referred to 

15   earlier.  So we talked about that being 

16   85 percent of the purchased amount would accrue 

17   towards that 40 percent that we're talking about.

18                And last but not least, we talked 

19   about the -- excluding real estate and capital 

20   expenses.  And that was based on the information 

21   that we got from other states in which shell 

22   companies are created by entities to actually be 

23   able to kind of sidestep the main purpose of the 

24   bill.

25                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 


                                                               810

 1   Madam President, will the sponsor continue to 

 2   yield.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Does the 

 4   sponsor yield?

 5                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, 

 6   Madam President.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 8   sponsor yields.

 9                SENATOR RATH:   The Governor 

10   released his 30-day amendments very late on 

11   Thursday the 18th of February.  Is the sponsor 

12   familiar with the nursing home reforms in the 

13   Governor's proposed amendments?

14                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 

15   Madam President.  I believe that the Governor is 

16   actually familiar with our proposals.  It's 

17   actually -- it's actually -- the Governor has a 

18   tendency, Madam President, to take ideas that we 

19   have, call them solutions to problems, and then 

20   just give us a watered-down version of something 

21   that we legislatively are looking to do.

22                So I am familiar with them, Senator, 

23   because they were actually our ideas to begin 

24   with.  What he has in his proposal are just 

25   watered-down versions of some of the pieces of 


                                                               811

 1   legislation that we're passing today.  So I am 

 2   aware of them, but I should say that he is aware 

 3   of ours.  Through you, Madam President.

 4                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

 5   Madam President, will the sponsor continue to 

 6   yield.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Does the 

 8   sponsor yield?

 9                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, Madam 

10   President.  

11                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

12   sponsor yields.

13                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you.

14                Is the sponsor aware that within 

15   24 hours the Governor proposed identical ratios 

16   on nursing home revenues as proposed in your 

17   legislation?

18                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 

19   Madam President.  I -- I don't know the exact 

20   timeline, but that sounds about right.

21                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, Madam 

22   Chair, will the sponsor continue to yield?  

23                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

24   sponsor yield?

25                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, 


                                                               812

 1   Madam President.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

 3   sponsor yields.

 4                SENATOR RATH:   Did the sponsor or 

 5   anyone on staff consult with anyone in the 

 6   Governor's office or the Department of Health on 

 7   this proposal prior to the release of the 30-day 

 8   amendments?

 9                SENATOR RIVERA:   I do not believe 

10   that we did, no.

11                Again, these are ideas that we have 

12   been working on, in some instances for months.  

13   And some draft of bills had been -- I think we 

14   might have introduced -- I'd have to look at the 

15   exact timeline, to be completely honest, but what 

16   I can tell you is that these are ideas that we 

17   have been working on for many months.  But we did 

18   not talk to them -- we did not talk to the 

19   Governor.

20                We have just -- through you, 

21   Madam President.  I think that folks can probably 

22   tell you I'm not necessarily the type to go 

23   around and be palling around with our good friend 

24   the Governor.  So -- not on this issue or most 

25   other ones.  So I did not consult with the 


                                                               813

 1   Governor.  He certainly read our bills, though, I 

 2   can tell you that.  Through you, Madam President.  

 3                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

 4   Madam President, will the sponsor continue to 

 5   yield.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Will the 

 7   sponsor yield?

 8                SENATOR RIVERA:   Yes, Madam 

 9   President.  

10                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The 

11   sponsor yields.

12                SENATOR RATH:   First of all, to 

13   your last comment, that makes two of us.

14                Did anyone in the Governor's office 

15   consult the sponsor or anyone on staff requesting 

16   or suggesting the amendments of this bill to be 

17   released in the 30-day amendments.

18                SENATOR RIVERA:   Through you, 

19   Madam President.  It is actually a known fact -- 

20   that sometimes makes me quite sad -- that the 

21   Governor has never called me in the 11 years that 

22   I've been in the State Legislature.

23                (Laughter.)

24                SENATOR RIVERA:   I'm not sure why 

25   you're laughing at this very, very sad, sad 


                                                               814

 1   thing, Senator Gianaris, but okay.  

 2                So let's just say that I have not 

 3   called him, he has not called me, certainly, and 

 4   none of my staff has been in contact with his 

 5   staff about this particular bill.  

 6                We talk to the administration on all 

 7   sorts of issues all the time, but on this 

 8   particular issue there has been, as far as I 

 9   know, certainly -- well, as far as me, no 

10   communications whatsoever.  Again, which makes me 

11   sad.  And as far as my staff, I can assure you 

12   none of them spoke to the Governor about this 

13   bill -- about these bills that we're talking 

14   about today at all.

15                SENATOR RATH:   Through you, 

16   Madam President, on the bill.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

18   Rath on the bill.

19                SENATOR RATH:   Thank you, 

20   Senator Rivera, for answering my questions.  I 

21   really appreciate it.  We had a lot of questions 

22   there, and I appreciate the banter and the 

23   back-and-forth very much.

24                I have some serious concerns with 

25   this bill.  The circumstances surrounding how we 


                                                               815

 1   came to be voting on this bill today in its 

 2   current form to me looks like another Albany 

 3   insider deal.  How does that old saying go?  If 

 4   it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, 

 5   it's a duck.

 6                We are in the middle of a global 

 7   health crisis that has taken the lives of 

 8   thousands of New Yorkers.  Politics as usual is 

 9   totally unacceptable, it is sickening, and 

10   frankly it's just wrong.

11                The Governor has failed our seniors 

12   throughout this pandemic, and the Majority has 

13   done nothing to intervene or to help those in our 

14   nursing homes across New York State.  First it 

15   was silence and inaction for months until 

16   hearings were scheduled for early August, with 

17   our conference continually calling for an 

18   investigation into the administration's handling 

19   of these nursing home issues.

20                Then one party held a questionable 

21   hearing allowing both houses of the Legislature 

22   to question the DOH commissioner for two hours 

23   for one day.  Then they issued follow-up 

24   questions from the hearing with a three-week 

25   deadline -- which came and went, of course, with 


                                                               816

 1   no response.  Next, they complied with the secret 

 2   agreement to accept the lack of this very set of 

 3   responses.

 4                Now they have the supermajority and 

 5   still have repeatedly refused to launch an 

 6   investigation.  Further, they have failed to 

 7   issue subpoenas to hold this Governor and the 

 8   Department of Health accountable, coupled with 

 9   continually voting against repealing the 

10   Governor's emergency powers and taking back our 

11   duly constituted legislative authority.

12                And now, today, February 22nd, 

13   nearly one year since the Governor was granted 

14   his emergency powers, now this Majority has 

15   decided to pass legislation which fails to 

16   address the issues that have come to light with 

17   regards to our struggling nursing homes across 

18   our great state.

19                In general, the bills we are voting 

20   on today do nothing to address the Medicaid cuts 

21   implemented on facilities over the years or the 

22   staffing shortages they have been confronted 

23   with.  Also, they do nothing to address the fact 

24   that the administration has ignored our nursing 

25   homes since the onset of this pandemic and has 


                                                               817

 1   continually failed to provide the desperately 

 2   needed resources to our nursing homes.

 3                But this bill in particular just 

 4   highlights, to me, the supermajority's approach 

 5   to governing as an independent body:  Say one 

 6   thing and then turn around and do something else.  

 7   This Majority speaks out against the Governor but 

 8   behind closed doors, I'm afraid to say, 

 9   corroborates and takes their orders.  

10                New Yorkers deserve more.  In 

11   particular, our seniors deserve more.  And the 

12   Senate Republican Conference will continue to 

13   demand that very thing on our seniors' behalf.  

14                Thank you, Madam President.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Are 

16   there any other Senators wishing to be heard?  

17                Seeing and hearing none, debate is 

18   closed.  The Secretary will ring the bell.

19                Read the last section.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

21   act shall take effect immediately.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Call the 

23   roll.

24                (The Secretary called the roll.)

25                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 


                                                               818

 1   Gianaris to explain his vote.

 2                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 3   Madam President.

 4                I listened with amusement as Senator 

 5   Rath was giving his remarks.  I know he's new 

 6   here, but for those of us who have been around a 

 7   little bit longer, I want to give a little bit of 

 8   history that the Republicans were in the majority 

 9   in this chamber for most of the last decade.  And 

10   there was no group that was more in this 

11   Governor's pocket than the Republicans in the 

12   State Senate over that time.  Not one subpoena 

13   ever issued, not one aggressive pushback against 

14   his policies, as long as you were the ones 

15   cutting the deals.  

16                So now we're sitting here actually 

17   doing something, actually making reforms to his 

18   policies, and the criticism comes.  It's grossly 

19   political.  This Majority needs to be commended 

20   for the steps we are taking to create this 

21   oversight.  And there's more to come after today, 

22   you can assure yourselves of that.  

23                I proudly vote aye, Madam President.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   Senator 

25   Gianaris to be recorded in the affirmative.


                                                               819

 1                Senator Rivera to explain his vote.

 2                SENATOR RIVERA:   Thank you, 

 3   Madam President.

 4                I just -- I would want to actually, 

 5   Madam President, just thank the leader for 

 6   helping lead us to this point.

 7                Now, there's much more to do.  And I 

 8   would say, Madam President, that had we had 

 9   cooperation, had there been collaboration and 

10   cooperation with our Executive, then perhaps we 

11   could have done a lot of this sooner.  

12                But I'm glad to say that based on 

13   all the work that we've done, we have a few 

14   pieces of legislation which address issues of 

15   transparency, address issues of standards of 

16   quality, of standards of safety, transparency 

17   around ownership.

18                These are all things -- as well as 

19   standards of visitation to make sure that people 

20   can visit their family members and therefore keep 

21   them healthy.  That was Senator May's bill 

22   earlier.

23                These are all -- these are all very 

24   good steps, but we have much more to do, 

25   Madam President.  We have -- we know how serious 


                                                               820

 1   this is.  We understand how much we have to keep 

 2   pushing on behalf of all the folks who have lost 

 3   their lives, of all the people who have lost 

 4   their lives.  And we need to stand up for them.  

 5   We believe that we are doing that, and we will 

 6   continue to do that.

 7                And I'm very, very, very proud to 

 8   vote for this piece of legislation today as well 

 9   as the other ones that we will do in the weeks 

10   and months to come.

11                We understand how important it is 

12   for New Yorkers to know that we care about each 

13   and every single person who passed away.  And we 

14   need to change policy to protect the most fragile 

15   New Yorkers.  That's what we're doing today and 

16   what we will continue to do.

17                I vote in the affirmative.  Thank 

18   you, Madam President.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:    

20   Senator Rivera to be recorded in the affirmative.

21                Announce the results.

22                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

23   Calendar 370, those Senators voting in the 

24   negative are Senators Akshar, Borrello, Boyle, 

25   Felder, Gallivan, Helming, Jordan, Lanza, 


                                                               821

 1   Martucci, Mattera, Oberacker, O'Mara, Ortt, 

 2   Palumbo, Rath, Serino, Stec, Tedisco and Weik.

 3                Ayes, 44.  Nays, 19.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   The bill 

 5   is passed.

 6                Senator Gianaris, that completes the 

 7   reading of the controversial calendar.

 8                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 9   Madam President.  

10                Is there any further business at the 

11   desk?

12                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   There is 

13   no further business at the desk.

14                SENATOR GIANARIS:  I move to adjourn 

15   until tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23rd, at 

16   3:00 p.m.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT PERSAUD:   On 

18   motion, the Senate stands adjourned until 

19   Tuesday, February 23rd, at 3:00 p.m.

20                (Whereupon, at 5:06 p.m., the Senate 

21   adjourned.)

22

23

24

25