To All Members:
I am pleased to report that Governor Cuomo signed the Covid Death Benefit bill – A3988 (Assemblyman Abbate) / S4681 (Senator Gounardes) into law on Friday, March 12, as Chapter #78 of 2021. You will recall that, at our annual meeting in November, we agreed that this would be our number one legislative priority for 2021, and on Wednesday, February 10, we submitted a NYSPEC Memorandum in Support for the legislation. We also urged all member units to submit their own individual support memos, and I thank the 29 member units who did so.
Assemblyman Abbate’s dedicated hard work spearheaded this effort soon after the onset of the pandemic last year. On behalf of all members of NYSPEC, we cannot thank him enough for always looking out for our interest. Remember that his original proposed Covid Death Benefit bill had no expiration date. However, the governor insisted that the bill sunset in 2020, and he converted it to a gubernatorial program bill. After issuing a message of necessity, he signed it into law as Chapter #89 on May 30, 2020. When the bill expired in December, he extended it by Execute Order before signing this year’s bill, which now expires December 31, 2022.
The governor, on Friday, also signed A3354 (Assemblyman Fall) / S2588 (Senator Gounardes) which provides four hours leave time for public employees to receive the Covid vaccine, as Chapter #77.
It is extremely important that NYSPEC shows its full strength in numbers when supporting or opposing legislation. This is particularly important in this crucial period of time, when we are not able to be physically present in Albany to voice our concerns to legislators on bills that impact our membership. This is the primary reason that I reiterate my request that you advise us as to how many members, both active and retired, you currently represent.
When NYSPEC issues a letter or a memo on an issue important to our membership, it is more impactful if the recipient realizes the huge number of public employees (and their family members!) that we represent. If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to send me an email to complete this important task! I believe that our memos in support of the Covid Death Benefit Law sent a message of how important this legislation was to us.
In closing, I remind you to periodically check the new NYSPEC website for updated information. We are proud of the new site, designed and regularly updated by Elyse Eversman of Fuse Systems.
Peter D. Meringolo,