Regular Session - February 24, 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 24, 2021

11                     11:12 a.m.

12                          

13                          

14                   REGULAR SESSION

15  

16  

17  

18  SENATOR BRIAN A. BENJAMIN, Acting President

19  ALEJANDRA N. PAULINO, ESQ., Secretary

20  

21  

22  

23  

24  

25  


                                                               934

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

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   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 BENJAMIN:   In the 

 9   absence of clergy, let us bow our heads in a 

10   moment of silent reflection or prayer.

11                (Whereupon, the assemblage respected 

12   a moment of silence.)

13                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Reading 

14   of the Journal.

15                THE SECRETARY:   In Senate, Tuesday, 

16   February 23, 2021, the Senate met pursuant to 

17   adjournment.  The Journal of Monday, February 22, 

18   2021, was read and approved.  On motion, Senate 

19   adjourned.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Without 

21   objection, the Journal stands approved as read.  

22                Presentation of petitions.

23                Messages from the Assembly.

24                Messages from the Governor.

25                Reports of standing committees.


                                                               935

 1                Reports of select committees.

 2                Communications and reports from 

 3   state officers.

 4                Motions and resolutions.

 5                Senator Gianaris.

 6                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Mr. President, 

 7   on behalf of Senator Parker, on page 20 I offer 

 8   the following amendments to Calendar 256, 

 9   Senate 3126, and ask that said bill retain its 

10   place on the Third Reading Calendar.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

12   amendments are received, and the bill shall 

13   retain its place on the Third Reading Calendar.

14                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Okay, at this 

15   time can we take up previously adopted 

16   Resolution 402, by Senator Harckham, read that 

17   resolution's title only, and recognize 

18   Senator Harckham.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

20   Secretary will read.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

22   402, by Senator Harckham, mourning the death of 

23   Lawrence Otis Graham, prominent attorney, 

24   best-selling author and distinguished citizen.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 


                                                               936

 1   Harckham on the resolution.

 2                SENATOR HARCKHAM:   Thank you, 

 3   Mr. President.

 4                I'd like to thank all of the members 

 5   of this body for passing this resolution 

 6   yesterday.  

 7                I'd like to thank the Majority 

 8   Leader and all of the members of the Westchester 

 9   delegation for joining me on this resolution.  

10   And I'd like to thank the Majority Leader for 

11   expediting this resolution so that we could get 

12   this passed this week.

13                Over the weekend I was shocked and 

14   saddened, like many, to learn of the passing of 

15   my good friend Lawrence Otis Graham -- or Larry, 

16   as he was known to his friends.  

17                Larry was a best-selling author, he 

18   was an attorney, he was a philanthropist, he was 

19   a political commentator -- but most importantly, 

20   he was a lifelong advocate for diversity and 

21   inclusion.  And he wrote probing books about race 

22   and class in America, a discussion that only now 

23   is coming to the fore in a very vocal way.  Larry 

24   was talking about these issues 20 years ago.  

25                He was talking about privilege 20 


                                                               937

 1   years ago.  He was talking about police reform 20 

 2   years ago.  He was talking about experiential 

 3   racism 20 years ago.  And though he might have 

 4   been an Ivy League-educated attorney, it did not 

 5   shield him or his family from experiential 

 6   racism.  Like the time he was coming out of 

 7   dinner and waiting for his car at a valet when a 

 8   white gentleman pulled up, got out of his car, 

 9   threw him the keys and said "Don't scratch it."  

10                These are not the kind of things 

11   that happen in my life.  I didn't have to have a 

12   conversation with my children about how to 

13   respond when pulled over by the police.  And 

14   these were the stories that Larry told and 

15   brought to the fore in America.  And we are now 

16   building upon the body of work which Lawrence was 

17   one of the early pioneers in discussing.  

18                But most of all, Larry was a friend 

19   who loved to laugh.  I met Larry in the year 

20   2000, when I joined his political campaign.  It 

21   was the first campaign for me, and it didn't end 

22   well for either of us, but it did cement a 

23   lifelong friendship.  And for the next 21 years, 

24   we were good friends in constant contact.  

25                And the thing about Larry was while 


                                                               938

 1   some people would collect friends, Larry would 

 2   nurture friends.  And he always spoke about 

 3   friends from high school and college and grad 

 4   school and the network of friends that he had, 

 5   and people who cared.  

 6                And the reason he was so successful 

 7   with his friendships was that he cared.  I 

 8   remember a couple of years ago he ended up going 

 9   to the theater with my former wife and one of my 

10   daughters, and he couldn't wait to call me the 

11   next day to say that he and Emma were now theater 

12   buddies and were in touch on social media.  And 

13   that was just the kind of person that he was.

14                But mostly, Larry was a husband and 

15   a father, and his family meant everything to him.  

16   His dear wife, Pamela, his children -- Gordon, 

17   Harrison and Lindsey -- were everything to him.  

18                And so we are saddened that Larry 

19   was taken from us too soon, but I am so grateful 

20   to this body for passing this resolution to 

21   memorialize his life, his work and his family.  

22                Thank you, Mr. President.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

24   resolution was previously adopted on 

25   February 23rd.


                                                               939

 1                Senator Gianaris.

 2                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Can we now move 

 3   to previously adopted Resolution 398, by 

 4   Senator Cooney, read that resolution's title 

 5   only, and recognize Senator Cooney.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 7   Secretary will read.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 9   398, by Senator Cooney, mourning the death of 

10   I.C. Shah, local telecom businessman, well-known 

11   humanitarian and distinguished member of his 

12   community.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

14   Cooney on the resolution.

15                SENATOR COONEY:   Thank you, 

16   Mr. President.  

17                I rise to support today's resolution 

18   which mourns the death of a great Rochesterian 

19   and a friend, I.C. Shah.  

20                I.C. was a successful 

21   telecommunications entrepreneur, an innovator who 

22   started with a dream and just a small loan.  He 

23   became an active member of our business community 

24   in Rochester.  But more importantly and more 

25   personally to me, he was a trailblazer and a 


                                                               940

 1   leader for the Indian and South Asian community 

 2   across upstate New York and throughout 

 3   Greater Rochester.

 4                He opened doors for many of us at a 

 5   time when there weren't people who had our color 

 6   skin who were seen in the public realm.  He 

 7   started programs like DIAL and others, to get 

 8   more civically engaged in our community through 

 9   nonprofits like Boys and Girls Club and Champion 

10   Academy and others.  

11                Today, this state remembers I.C. 

12   Shah and mourns his loss.  His greatest love of 

13   all was of course for his family -- his two sons, 

14   Raj and Jon, their spouses and children, and of 

15   course his wife, Cheryl.  

16                And I'm so grateful for the 

17   Majority Leader and the members of this body who 

18   join me in recognizing I.C. Shah.  

19                God bless I.C.  Thank you.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

21   resolution was previously adopted on 

22   February 23rd.

23                Senator Gianaris.

24                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Next up we have 

25   previously adopted Resolution 394, by 


                                                               941

 1   Senator Griffo, who it's good to see back here in 

 2   the chamber.  Please read that resolution's title 

 3   only and recognize Senator Griffo.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 5   Secretary will read.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 7   394, by Senator Griffo, mourning the death of 

 8   Chief Jason M. Buley, committed law enforcement 

 9   officer, family man and devoted member of his 

10   community.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

12   Griffo on the resolution.

13                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Thank you, 

14   Mr. President.  

15                We're here today to commemorate and 

16   to honor a life that was taken much too early, 

17   the life of Jason Buley, who was a dedicated 

18   professional.  

19                He was the chief of police and was 

20   from a long tradition of law enforcement.  His 

21   dad was in law enforcement.  He started his 

22   career in 1988, following in the footsteps of his 

23   father.  He knew as a young man, very early, what 

24   he wanted to be:  He wanted to serve and protect 

25   his community.  


                                                               942

 1                And Jason was a unique person in the 

 2   community in which he lived, in Whitesboro.  He 

 3   was very faithful to his job, very professional 

 4   and loyal to not only the community but to 

 5   everybody he worked with.  Those who worked with 

 6   him always greeted him with great affinity and 

 7   respect.  He was the type of individual who on 

 8   holidays would work so that the younger members 

 9   of the department could have that time to spend 

10   with their families, even though Jason was truly 

11   a dedicated family man.

12                He rose through the ranks, from 

13   patrolman all the way to the office of chief, and 

14   throughout that gained the respect from peers 

15   across not only our community but across the 

16   State of New York.  He was truly what they call 

17   the cop's cop, who proudly and diligently carried 

18   out his duties and did it out of remembrance and 

19   a commitment to law enforcement that was 

20   instilled from his dad.

21                He had great pursuits, too.  As a 

22   great family man, he really enjoyed -- he was 

23   mechanically inclined and really enjoyed working 

24   on cars, all kinds of cars, particularly the 

25   family fleet.  And he always had and made time 


                                                               943

 1   for family.

 2                He was a great hockey player and a 

 3   fan of the Philly Flyers.  But the most important 

 4   thing is he was a family man.  And they faced 

 5   great hardships in their family.  They had two 

 6   children, Samantha and Nick, and unfortunately 

 7   lost Nick at a very young age.  And his father 

 8   also passed away at a very young age.  So Jason 

 9   learned how to endure and to face these 

10   challenges.  

11                He married his wife, Lisa, and they 

12   were married for over 21 years and had a great 

13   marriage, a great working partnership where they 

14   focused on their family and their needs as well 

15   as their community.

16                Jason's the kind of guy in the 

17   middle of a crisis where he would find the time 

18   to be a leader.  He took the time during the 

19   flooding that afflicted our communities in 

20   Central New York to ensure that he was not only 

21   there on the scene, but organizing benefits to 

22   assist those who were victimized by the floods.  

23   And he was always an individual who exhibited 

24   humility.  

25                So Jason unfortunately lost his life 


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 1   at the age of 45.  And the community mourns him 

 2   but also will remember him.  And today we offer 

 3   our respects and we express our condolences to 

 4   his wife, Lisa, and his daughter and all of his 

 5   family -- his brother Dan, who he took under his 

 6   wing at a very young age after his father passed 

 7   away.

 8                So today, on behalf of the Senate 

 9   and all of those residents of the 47th District, 

10   we want to issue not only our condolences and 

11   deepest sympathy, but also our gratitude for a 

12   life so short, but well served and well done.

13                So on behalf of my constituents 

14   today, I thank you for the opportunity to have 

15   this resolution memorializing and commemorating 

16   the great life of Jason Buley, may he rest in 

17   peace.  

18                Thank you, Mr. President.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

20   resolution was previously adopted on 

21   February 23rd.

22                Senator Gianaris.

23                SENATOR GIANARIS:   And finally, 

24   Mr. President, previously adopted Resolution 390, 

25   by Senator Mannion, read its title only and 


                                                               945

 1   recognize Senator Mannion.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 3   Secretary will read.

 4                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 5   390, by Senator Mannion, honoring Roderic 

 6   Woodruff Groat, "Rod Wood," on his retirement 

 7   from the anchor desk of WSYR-TV Syracuse (News 

 8   Channel 9) after 44 years of service.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

10   Mannion on the resolution.

11                SENATOR MANNION:   Thank you, 

12   Mr. President.  

13                Today this body is continuing its 

14   tradition of recognizing and honoring esteemed 

15   New Yorkers.  Roderic Woodruff Groat, known to 

16   all of us as Rod Wood, was born and raised in 

17   Syracuse, New York.  A man of impeccable quality 

18   and character, Rod has beamed into our living 

19   rooms for the last 57 years.  The last 44 years 

20   he has been a news anchor at Channel 9, WSYR, 

21   delivering the stories we needed to hear and 

22   understand.  

23                He teamed on the evening news with 

24   Carrie Lazarus, an icon in her own right, for 

25   31 years, making them one of the nation's 


                                                               946

 1   longest-running anchor teams ever.  Rod and 

 2   Carrie were inducted into the New York State 

 3   Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2011.

 4                Rod raised his five children in 

 5   Central New York with his beloved wife of 52 

 6   years, Nanette, who was sadly lost last year.  

 7                Rod has served as a mentor to 

 8   hundreds of young journalists and broadcasters 

 9   who have gone on to work around the world, many 

10   of whom stay in close contact after they have 

11   left Syracuse.  Syracuse is considered a 

12   launching pad for many national journalists.  

13                Rod hung up his microphone last 

14   November for a much-deserved retirement after his 

15   decades of service to Syracuse and Central 

16   New York.  

17                In an era when trust and accuracy 

18   matter more than ever, Rod set the highest 

19   possible standard for a broadcast journalist.  He 

20   is truly a local kid who made good, stayed close 

21   to home, served his country and his community 

22   with distinction.

23                He was always a calming voice for 

24   the people of Central New York, in good times and 

25   in bad.  And in that calm and steady way, he also 


                                                               947

 1   always had a little bit of flash.  And I wear 

 2   this tie today, and I hope that I've made Rod 

 3   Wood proud.

 4                Thank you to my colleagues for 

 5   pausing our deliberations today to honor Rod Wood 

 6   upon his retirement, and thank you, Rod, for 

 7   making Central New York a better place.

 8                Thank you, Mr. President.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

10   resolution was previously adopted on 

11   February 23rd.

12                Senator Gianaris.

13                SENATOR GIANARIS:   At the request 

14   of the various sponsors, the resolutions we took 

15   up today are open for cosponsorship.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

17   resolutions are open for cosponsorship.  Should 

18   you choose not to be a cosponsor of the 

19   resolutions, please notify the desk.

20                Senator Gianaris.

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Let's take up 

22   the reading of the calendar, Mr. President.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

24   Secretary will read.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 


                                                               948

 1   106, Senate Print 646B, by Senator Sanders, an 

 2   act to direct the New York State Department of 

 3   Health to conduct a study on the incidences of 

 4   asthma.

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

 6   the last section.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

 8   act shall take effect immediately.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

10   the roll.

11                (The Secretary called the roll.)

12                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

13   Announce the results.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

16   bill is passed.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

18   165, Senate Print 1466, by Senator Breslin, an 

19   act to amend the General Municipal Law.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

21   the last section.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Section 6.  This 

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

24   shall have become a law.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 


                                                               949

 1   the roll.

 2                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

 4   Announce the results.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 7   bill is passed.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 9   174, Senate Print 1477A, by Senator Krueger, an 

10   act to amend the Penal Law.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

12   the last section.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

14   act shall take effect on the first of November.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

16   the roll.

17                (The Secretary called the roll.)

18                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

19   Announce the results.

20                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

21   Calendar 174, voting in the negative:  Senator 

22   Salazar.  

23                Ayes, 62.  Nays, 1.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

25   bill is passed.


                                                               950

 1                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 2   269, Senate Print 1426, by Senator Serrano, an 

 3   act to amend the General City Law.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

 5   the last section.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

 7   act shall take effect on the 30th day after it 

 8   shall have become a law.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

10   the roll.

11                (The Secretary called the roll.)

12                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

13   Announce the results.

14                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

15   Calendar Number 269, voting in the negative:  

16   Senator O'Mara.

17                Ayes, 62.  Nays, 1.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

19   bill is passed.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

21   284, Senate Print 2925, by Senator Kennedy, an 

22   act to amend the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

24   the last section.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 


                                                               951

 1   act shall take effect on the 30th day after it 

 2   shall have become a law.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

 4   the roll.

 5                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

 7   Announce the results.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

10   bill is passed.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

12   285, Senate Print 952, by Senator Gaughran, an 

13   act to amend the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit 

14   Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit 

15   Law.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

17   the last section.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Section 3.  This 

19   act shall take effect immediately.

20                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

21   the roll.

22                (The Secretary called the roll.)

23                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

24   Announce the results.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.


                                                               952

 1                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 2   bill is passed.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

 4   339, Senate Print 4341, by Senator Kaminsky, an 

 5   act to amend the Environmental Conservation Law.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

 7   the last section.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

 9   act shall take effect immediately.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

11   the roll.

12                (The Secretary called the roll.)

13                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

14   Announce the results.

15                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

16   Calendar 339, voting in the negative:  

17   Senator Skoufis.  

18                Ayes, 62.  Nays, 1.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

20   bill is passed.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

22   349, Senate Print 1162A, by Senator Kennedy, an 

23   act requiring the Department of Health to provide 

24   written public updates to the Draft New York 

25   State's COVID-19 Vaccination Program Plan.


                                                               953

 1                SENATOR LANZA:   Lay it aside.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Lay it 

 3   aside.

 4                THE SECRETARY:  Calendar Number 364, 

 5   Senate Print 3293, by Senator Ramos, an act to 

 6   amend Chapter 461 of the Laws of 2017.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

 8   the last section.

 9                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

10   act shall take effect immediately.  

11                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

12   the roll.

13                (The Secretary called the roll.)

14                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

15   Announce the results.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

18   bill is passed.

19                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

20   368, Senate Print 830B, by Senator Comrie, an act 

21   to amend the Election Law, the Criminal Procedure 

22   Law, the Executive Law, and the Correction Law.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Read 

24   the last section.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Section 13.  This 


                                                               954

 1   act shall take effect immediately.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

 3   the roll.

 4                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

 6   Ryan to explain his vote.

 7                SENATOR RYAN:   Thank you, 

 8   Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to 

 9   explain my vote.

10                The rules governing parolee voting 

11   in New York State make no sense, and they've made 

12   no sense for a long time.  Here's how it works in 

13   the real world:  Two people plead guilty to a 

14   felony DWI.  One is on parole, one is on 

15   probation.  The person on parole cannot vote.  

16   The person on probation is allowed to vote.  Same 

17   crime, both live in the community, both have 

18   jobs, both pay taxes, but one is denied their 

19   right to enfranchisement.  

20                It makes no sense, it solves no 

21   problem, and it has to change.  Right now there's 

22   34,000 New Yorkers in this category for no 

23   apparent reason.  It's time that we fix it, and 

24   the time to fix it is now.  

25                Since 1776, the story of American 


                                                               955

 1   voting rights has been who's allowed in the club 

 2   and who's not allowed in the club.  We all know 

 3   the history, and it's not too good.

 4                But as we are advancing voting 

 5   rights right now in New York State and we are 

 6   expanding enfranchisement, other states are doing 

 7   just the opposite.  They're rolling back the 

 8   rights to enfranchisement, and they're trying to 

 9   prevent people from voting.  

10                New York's on the right path on this 

11   one.  And I withdraw my request, and I vote in 

12   the affirmative, Mr. President.

13                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:    

14   Senator Ryan to be recorded in the affirmative.

15                Senator Cooney to explain his vote.

16                SENATOR COONEY:   Thank you, 

17   Mr. President.

18                I rise in support of this 

19   legislation, very strongly.  And I want to share 

20   a story about one of my constituents who lives in 

21   the 56th District of New York, Jalil Muntaqim.  

22   Jalil spent 50 years in prison.  He completed his 

23   time required by the state.  He should not now be 

24   punished for exercising his most basic civil 

25   liberty, which is the right to vote.


                                                               956

 1                However, that is not the case.  He 

 2   was charged with a crime for casting a vote -- or 

 3   for registering to do so.  If this bill were a 

 4   law right now, we would not be having to 

 5   conversation.  Jalil would not be facing 

 6   prosecution.  Jalil would not be in fear of 

 7   getting his life back on track.

 8                He's a mentor, he's a community 

 9   leader, he's an inspiration for so many who seek 

10   to better themselves when in the prison system.

11                We cannot continue to punish those 

12   who have made the mistakes in their past by 

13   denying their future participation in our civil 

14   society.  We have to pass this bill.  I strongly 

15   support it for Jalil, but for so many others 

16   whose voices will not be heard in our democracy.

17                Thank you.  

18                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

19   Cooney to be recorded in the affirmative.

20                Announce the results.

21                THE SECRETARY:   In relation to 

22   Calendar 368, those Senators voting in the 

23   negative are Senators Akshar, Borrello, Boyle, 

24   Gallivan, Griffo, Helming, Jordan, Lanza, 

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


                                                               957

 1   Palumbo, Rath, Ritchie, Serino, Stec, Tedisco and 

 2   Weik.

 3                Ayes, 43.  Nays, 20.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 5   bill is passed.

 6                Senator Gianaris, that completes the 

 7   reading of today's calendar.

 8                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Can we now move 

 9   to the controversial calendar, please.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

11   Secretary will ring the bell.

12                The Secretary will read.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Calendar Number 

14   349, Senate Print 1162A, by Senator Kennedy, an 

15   act requiring the Department of Health to provide 

16   written public updates to the Draft New York 

17   State's COVID-19 Vaccination Program Plan.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

19   Lanza, why do you rise?

20                SENATOR LANZA:   Mr. President, I 

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

22   waive the reading of that amendment and ask that 

23   you recognize Senator Griffo to be heard.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Thank 

25   you, Senator Lanza.


                                                               958

 1                Upon review of the amendment, in 

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

 3   nongermane and out of order at this time.

 4                SENATOR LANZA:   Accordingly, 

 5   Mr. President, I appeal the ruling of the chair 

 6   and ask that you recognize Senator Griffo.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

 8   appeal has been made and recognized, and Senator 

 9   Griffo may be heard.

10                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Thank you, 

11   Mr. President.  I appreciate the opportunity to 

12   be heard.  

13                And I would argue that the amendment 

14   before this good bill is germane because the bill 

15   essentially requires the Department of Health to 

16   provide written information, and to the programs 

17   and policies that are now in place from COVID-19, 

18   and allowing the Legislature and the public to 

19   receive that information.  

20                So the presentation of and sharing 

21   of information is so critical to all of us doing 

22   our job.  And there's nothing more important than 

23   to reestablish our role and responsibility in 

24   that regard and to have that information to make 

25   those type of decisions.


                                                               959

 1                So I believe that the amendment is 

 2   germane based upon that.  And while we've seen 

 3   the Governor on TV regularly -- in fact, his 

 4   performances have earned him an Emmy -- in 

 5   contrast, conversations with legislators and with 

 6   local officials are rare.  And perhaps that could 

 7   earn him a Razzie.  Because that type of 

 8   communication and collaboration in developing 

 9   policy is essential as we all serve the people of 

10   the State of New York.

11                So, Mr. President, I hope maybe you 

12   will become enlightened from our points today and 

13   that you will surprise me with a ruling of 

14   germaneness on this subject, because I know -- I 

15   once stood where you are now and actually crafted 

16   the very language that we use in discussing the 

17   procedures of the house.  But this bill is not 

18   only germane, but it speaks to the very process.  

19                And I know from conversations with 

20   my colleagues on both sides of the aisle here 

21   that there is a consensus, an appreciation and an 

22   understanding that we have to reassert ourselves 

23   in the governance process.

24                Sharing of information is essential, 

25   and that's what this bill does.  And that's why 


                                                               960

 1   this amendment continues to be relevant.  I think 

 2   all of us could understand and appreciate, as a 

 3   former executive, that initially in a time of 

 4   crisis there is need for quick and prudent action 

 5   when you face something such as the virus that 

 6   was so uncertain and that was so much unknown.  

 7   And it was a public health emergency.  

 8                But I think we have transitioned now 

 9   from that essential emergency to an ongoing 

10   public health crisis.  And as a result of that, 

11   there is a role and responsibility for the 

12   various branches of this government to function 

13   in order to serve the people as best we can.

14                And I know, again, from talking to 

15   my colleagues informally in conversations, that 

16   there is a willingness and an appreciation and 

17   actually a consensus that we need to do this.  

18   And as a result, we need to rein in what was once 

19   extraordinary powers granted, now, to allow us to 

20   function the way we should and could.

21                It's been over a year.  And I know 

22   that, as I said, speaking to members in this 

23   chamber, that there is a recognition and 

24   acknowledgment that we're a coequal branch of 

25   government.  And that's the significance of the 


                                                               961

 1   amendment as well as the bill-in-chief, providing 

 2   information so that we can make informed 

 3   decisions.  

 4                There's never been a greater need, 

 5   in my opinion, Mr. President, for checks and 

 6   balances in our state government.  Just take a 

 7   look at the reports that we are receiving from 

 8   independent elected officials that cite some of 

 9   the problems and failed policies that have had an 

10   adverse impact upon the people of this state.  

11                Our Constitution establishes three 

12   coequal branches of government.  And it is 

13   imperative that we respect that separation of 

14   powers and that we ensure that we are undertaking 

15   our responsibility and undertaking our role as 

16   legislators.  When that information is provided 

17   and given, then we should be an equal partner in 

18   making determinations and decisions as to what 

19   has to be done and should be done in the best 

20   interests of the people of this state.

21                So this amendment is germane, 

22   Mr. President, because we have seen stonewalling 

23   by this Executive.  We have seen an unwillingness 

24   and a reluctance by the executive to provide the 

25   very information that this bill is now requiring 


                                                               962

 1   that they do, that they give us that information 

 2   so that we can undertake our role and 

 3   responsibility.

 4                And I don't think it's to anybody's 

 5   surprise, when you see media accounts or the 

 6   independent accounts of the Attorney General of 

 7   the State of New York and others now, that are 

 8   showcasing that when you amass this type of power 

 9   and it is granted and it is unchecked, it brings 

10   us into a dangerous -- dangerous situation 

11   relative to the enactment of policy, when we must 

12   and should respect the very structure of our 

13   government.

14                So I think that this amendment, 

15   again, by providing -- this amendment, by reining 

16   in the powers, will allow us to ensure that if 

17   the bill-in-chief is passed -- and I believe it 

18   should be -- that that information that is given 

19   to us will allow us to have a role in determining 

20   and changing some of the failed policies that are 

21   now in place that are not working, despite our 

22   suggestions and recommendations.  There is a 

23   reluctance on the part of the Governor and the 

24   administration to take these things into 

25   consideration and to make it work.


                                                               963

 1                The only time we found out about 

 2   some of these things was through a private 

 3   meeting that was held.  And that's shameful, in 

 4   my opinion.  And fortunately some of that came 

 5   out so people did get information, as this bill 

 6   is purporting and wanting us to have that type of 

 7   information so that we can gauge what's working 

 8   or not working and have a role based upon our 

 9   responsibility entrusted in all of us by the 

10   Constitution of this state.

11                This shouldn't be about political 

12   survival.  This should be about survival of the 

13   people that we all serve and represent.

14                So I'm hopeful, Mr. President, that 

15   you will reconsider.  Because this is the 

16   17th time that this amendment has been brought 

17   forward.  And we're saying the same things over 

18   and over because this is above politics.  It's 

19   about policy.  It's about what is best for all of 

20   the people we represent.  

21                We want to do our jobs on both sides 

22   of the aisle here.  And it's important that we 

23   owe, to the millions of people and to the 

24   thousands of grieving families -- that we do 

25   something, that we reassert ourselves in this 


                                                               964

 1   process.  

 2                I've always tried to be an advocate 

 3   for reform.  I believe in it.  I truly believe in 

 4   the balance of power.  And I know that my 

 5   colleagues here do likewise.  You know, we may 

 6   lament court cases where they've given prior 

 7   additional powers to the Executive, and we 

 8   continue to chide that and to confront that.  But 

 9   we should not cede additional authority to the 

10   Executive on a voluntary basis.  

11                And that starts with reclaiming 

12   ourselves by exercising a vote on this particular 

13   amendment on the core subject that I believe 

14   there's consensus on, that we take this type of 

15   action, that we return government to the way it 

16   was originally structured and intended to 

17   function.  When people ask now "Well, if you get 

18   this information, what are you going to do with 

19   it?" -- we're going to run the government the way 

20   it has been run before.  

21                As I said, we have transitioned from 

22   an immediate emergency to a crisis, and it's 

23   still difficult and challenging.  And we need to 

24   take that responsibility seriously.  But I think 

25   we are all capable of working together 


                                                               965

 1   collectively, again, returning -- when people say 

 2   how would you do it, do it the way the 

 3   constitution structured it.  We're structured in 

 4   a certain way, and it's intended to function that 

 5   way, and we can serve the people accordingly.

 6                So, Mr. President, I know that -- I 

 7   think we need to regain this power.  I know there 

 8   are some of my colleagues that have actually 

 9   discussed the outright stripping of that power.  

10   So let's take a stand for these rulings.  

11   Mr. President, based upon the subject matter, I 

12   urge you to reconsider and that you allow a vote 

13   on this amendment, which I know will receive 

14   support.  And it is imperative that we again 

15   reassert ourselves as a coequal, separate branch 

16   of the government serving the people of the State 

17   of New York.  We're capable of doing that.  

18                Thank you, Mr. President.

19                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Thank 

20   you, Senator Griffo.

21                I want to remind the house that the 

22   vote is on the procedures of the house and the 

23   ruling of the chair.  

24                Those in favor of overruling the 

25   chair signify by saying aye.


                                                               966

 1                SENATOR LANZA:   Request a show of 

 2   hands.

 3                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Mr. President, 

 4   much of what Senator Griffo said today is 

 5   correct, but this amendment being germane is not 

 6   one of them.

 7                Nevertheless, we've agreed to waive 

 8   the showing of hands and record each member of 

 9   the Minority in the affirmative.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Without 

11   objection, so ordered.  

12                Announce the results.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 20.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

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

16   is before the house.

17                Are there any other Senators wishing 

18   to be heard?  

19                Seeing and hearing none, debate is 

20   closed.  The Secretary will ring the bell.  

21                Read the last section.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Section 2.  This 

23   act shall take effect immediately.

24                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Call 

25   the roll.


                                                               967

 1                (The Secretary called the roll.)

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

 3   Kennedy to explain his vote.

 4                SENATOR KENNEDY:   Thank you, 

 5   Mr. President.

 6                First of all, I want to thank 

 7   Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for 

 8   bringing this very important bill to the floor 

 9   here today.  And I rise to explain my vote on 

10   this legislation and why it's so imperative that 

11   that legislation is enacted, now more than ever, 

12   here in the great State of New York.

13                The majority of calls that come into 

14   my office, and I'm sure many of your offices and 

15   other government offices around the state, are 

16   from New Yorkers simply looking for answers.  

17   When can they be vaccinated?  Who can get the 

18   vaccine?  Where they can get the vaccine and how 

19   they can sign up.  

20                We need a comprehensive transparent 

21   approach to addressing this pandemic, and this 

22   bill that we pass here today will create just 

23   that.

24                Ensuring an equitable vaccine 

25   distribution is something that we as a Democratic 


                                                               968

 1   conference have been fighting for since before 

 2   there was even a vaccine available.  We know, 

 3   according to the CDC, that Black and Brown people 

 4   have become infected with the COVID-19 virus at 

 5   three times the rate of white people and have 

 6   died at nearly twice as many times as frequently.

 7                We also know that this population is 

 8   more likely to suffer from underlying health 

 9   conditions, including diabetes and obesity, which 

10   raise the risk of hospitalization and death.  Not 

11   only do these populations often have less access 

12   to health services, but they also have a 

13   documented history of receiving unequal care.  

14                Which is why we've been pushing for 

15   a strong, transparent distribution plan from the 

16   Department of Health since Day One.  And it's 

17   exactly why I'm pleased to see this bill move 

18   forward here today.

19                This legislation we're passing today 

20   requires the Department of Health to establish a 

21   written, publicly available plan that focuses on 

22   the equitable distribution of the vaccine.  A 

23   plan that is detailed, transparent and perhaps 

24   most importantly, updated on a weekly basis and 

25   made available to the public and is easily 


                                                               969

 1   accessible on the website.

 2                This bill provides a lot of 

 3   flexibility to the state in how they're 

 4   approaching these problems, but above all it 

 5   requires the state to be transparent in what they 

 6   are doing.  New Yorkers deserve clear and 

 7   consistent communication throughout this next 

 8   phase of the pandemic as the vaccine becomes more 

 9   and more available, and this legislation will 

10   create an effective centralized tool for the 

11   state to communicate to our constituents and to 

12   people as these simple questions arise.  

13                Time is of the essence, 

14   Mr. President, and in truth we needed this done 

15   yesterday.  We needed it months ago as we 

16   prepared to roll out the vaccine in the first 

17   phases to our frontline workers.  And while we 

18   cannot rewrite history, we can choose how we 

19   shape our way forward.  And it's our duty as 

20   legislators to ensure that the constituents we 

21   represent are receiving up-to-date information on 

22   how they can take steps to protect themselves and 

23   their families as we enter into the next phase on 

24   the road to recovery.

25                With that, Mr. President, I vote 


                                                               970

 1   aye.  Thank you very much.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

 3   Kennedy to be recorded in the affirmative.

 4                Senator Lanza to explain his vote.

 5                SENATOR LANZA:   Thank you, 

 6   Mr. President, to explain my vote.  

 7                First of all, I want to thank 

 8   Senator Kennedy.  This truly is a good piece of 

 9   legislation.  It's timely, it's necessary, and it 

10   does what I think the people really want most 

11   during this pandemic.  It says that we deserve to 

12   know what's happening as New Yorkers.  And quite 

13   frankly, we don't.

14                I have a further question along the 

15   lines of the topic being addressed by this 

16   legislation.  Where are the vaccines?  Senator 

17   Kennedy said it right.  Every day we receive 

18   calls from our constituents -- 80-year-olds, 

19   90-year-olds, people with comorbidities -- 

20   begging, pleading, asking where can I get a 

21   vaccine?  And every single day our offices have 

22   to say, sadly, New York State is doing a poor 

23   job.  

24                The Health Department of this state 

25   obviously did not have a plan.  Perhaps -- and 


                                                               971

 1   that's proven by the fact that New York is at the 

 2   bottom of the list in the country.  Among the 50 

 3   states, we're at the very bottom of the list in 

 4   terms of getting vaccines into the arms of our 

 5   constituents, into the arms of New Yorkers.  

 6                You know, Dr. Zucker has been good 

 7   at dodging questions, and I hear now that maybe 

 8   he'll be presenting himself to face some 

 9   questions tomorrow.  Hopefully that's true.  This 

10   is a question on the minds of I think all 

11   New Yorkers:  Why weren't you ready?  Why didn't 

12   you have a plan?  

13                Perhaps it's because when President 

14   Trump announced the Warp Speed initiative 

15   promising the American people that there would be 

16   vaccines at the end of 2020, perhaps he listened 

17   to Dr. Fauci, who said that was impossible and 

18   that we wouldn't see vaccines until July or 

19   August of 2021.  

20                Perhaps it was because he was 

21   embroiled in the -- I want to watch my words 

22   here.  Perhaps it was because he was too busy 

23   lying to New Yorkers about what was really 

24   happening with the pandemic.  And I think those 

25   words are accurate.  He was lying to the people 


                                                               972

 1   of our state.

 2                So, Senator Kennedy, right on.  This 

 3   is good legislation.  This is the beginning of 

 4   getting this state on the proper footing in terms 

 5   of the taxpayers, the people, our citizens 

 6   knowing exactly what it is that their government 

 7   is doing and exactly what it is that their 

 8   government is not doing.

 9                But again, I ask the question for 

10   all of us:  Where are the vaccines, Dr. Zucker?  

11   Where are they?

12                Thank you, Senator Kennedy.  Thank 

13   you, Mr. President.  I vote aye.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   Senator 

15   Lanza to be recorded in the affirmative.

16                Announce the results.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 63.

18                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   The 

19   bill is passed.

20                Senator Gianaris, that completes the 

21   reading of the controversial calendar.

22                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Is there any 

23   further business at the desk?

24                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   There 

25   is no further business at the desk.


                                                               973

 1                SENATOR GIANARIS:   I move to 

 2   adjourn until Monday, March 1st, at 3:00 p.m., 

 3   intervening days being legislative days.

 4                ACTING PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:   On 

 5   motion, the Senate stands adjourned until Monday, 

 6   March 1st, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days being 

 7   legislative days.

 8                (Whereupon, at 11:50 a.m., the 

 9   Senate adjourned.)

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