Senator Jen Metzger Legislative Update
I just wanted to check in and give you a legislative update on seven of my bills that were signed into law in the last couple of weeks (bringing the total to nearly 20 for the year thus far!). I’m proud to report that the bills I’ll be discussing below passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. One of the most significant of these from a statewide perspective is nation-leading legislation on the production and sale of hemp and CBD products, which will benefit New York farmers and create jobs while making sure we have quality and safety standards to protect consumers.
|S6184A||Creates a regulatory framework for growing, processing, and selling hemp extract and CBD products in New York.|
|S6163||Expands voting hours for the 2020 Presidential primary election in upstate New York.|
|S6235||Extends the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act to Ulster County.|
|S4945||Simplifies record keeping and eliminates an administrative burden for farmers who own agricultural vehicles.|
|S1012||Authorizes the Enlarged City School District of Middletown to create a health insurance reserve fund.|
|S5510||Allows Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County to apply for capital grants for improvements to the Education Center and 4-H park in Otisville.|
|S5438||Enables the City of Middletown to opt out of a regulatory burden that requires the City to hire a plumbing inspector.|
- Making it Easier for Upstate Voters to Participate in the 2020 Presidential Primary
- The Ulster County Community Preservation Act Becomes Law
- Cutting Through Red Tape for Farm Vehicle Registration
- Protecting Middletown Schools’ Health Insurance Program
- Enabling State Fair Capital Funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County
- Updating Middletown Plumbing Limitations to 21st Century Standards
Making it Easier for Upstate Voters to Participate in the 2020 Presidential Primary
Voters in Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Delaware, and other upstate counties should have the same access to the polls that voters in New York City and other counties have, but in many upstate counties the polls for primary elections do not open until noon, depriving voters of the option to vote on the way to work or school. That’s why I introduced a bill to expand upstate voting hours for the April 28, 2020, Presidential primary election, which recently became law! Now, rural voters will have an equal opportunity to cast their vote--morning, afternoon or evening--just like their downstate counterparts. Polls will be open for the Presidential primary from 6 am to 9 pm.
The Ulster County Community Preservation Act Becomes Law
Having worked at the local level to protect open space and support our local farms, I was thrilled to sponsor legislation to add Ulster County to the 2007 Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, which gives communities the tools they need to raise funds for preserving unique ecological areas, agricultural lands, historic sites, and open space. Local governments wishing to establish their own Community Preservation Fund must first get the approval of voters through a public referendum. The Town of Warwick, an early pioneer in establishing such a fund, has protected 4,269 acres of irreplaceable farmland and open space in perpetuity.
Cutting Through Red Tape for Farm Vehicle Registration
As Senate Agriculture Chair, I meet with and hear from farmers in our district and across New York State, and based on these conversations I work to develop common-sense solutions to the challenges they face. One such issue that I’m proud to have addressed through legislation is the burden of farm vehicle registration. This new law alleviates unnecessary administrative burdens on small and mid-sized family farms that often do not have the bandwidth to file exhaustive paperwork for their vehicles’ day-to-day usage. Prior to the new law, agricultural vehicle owners were required to file and maintain ancillary registration cards specifying each anticipated destination.
Protecting Middletown Schools’ Health Insurance Program
My bill authorizing the City School District of Middletown to create a health insurance reserve fund for its employees was recently signed into law, allowing the district to continue to cover the cost of employees’ medical bills without increasing the tax burden on the school community. This new law is estimated to save the school district a whopping $3.4 million.
Enabling State Fair Capital Funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County
WIth this legislation now signed into law, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County (CCEOC) can apply for county fair capital funds for the promotion of agriculture and domestic arts at its Educational Center and 4-H Park in Otisville. Since the Orange County Fair does not typically feature agriculture--a traditional focus of county fairs--the CCEOC 4-H Showcase will fill that gap and continue in its successful efforts to create a premiere regional educational, research, and exhibition facility for the county.
Updating Middletown Plumbing Limitations to 21st Century Standards
Thanks to legislation that I sponsored, the City of Middletown can finally opt out of a 100-year old municipal law that required the City to hire a plumbing inspector. The City of Middletown has had a limited pool of plumbers, which made it difficult to fill the formerly mandated position and caused project delays.
As always, I would love to hear your feedback and ideas or answer any questions you may have about the legislation mentioned above. You can reach me by email at [email protected] or call my office at (845) 344-3311.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season!
New York State Senator