New Regs Target On-Call Scheduling, McKownville Water Grant, New Laws Help Vets

November 20, 2017

The NYS Department of Labor announced new potential regulations of on-call scheduling in New York. On-call scheduling is the practice in which shift workers are called to work on short notice, or dismissed early if business is slow. The proposed regulations would ensure workers are compensated for re-arranging their schedules for shifts that they are not called in for. Iím pleased to see more being done to address this critical workforce issue, and currently sponsor similar legislation in the Assembly Ė but only targeting medium and large businesses (over 50 employees). Unpredictable schedules have a serious impact on New York families, at time leaving childcare arrangements and monthly budgets in limbo. While I do have reservations about the specifics of these regulations impact on small businesses and micro enterprises, I look forward working with the Department of Labor to ensure introduced regulations work for employees and employers in New York.

McKownville Receives State Grants Funding to Stem Flooding. The village of McKownville in Guilderland will receive a $2.75 million grant to stem persistent flooding in that area. Iím proud to share that this is the largest state grant I have secured. The funding will be used to build a new storm water management system, and help prevent flooding along Western Ave and in the neighborhood - a decades old problem! The project is slated to be completed in 2019.

Governor Signs Bills to Help Veterans. Last week, Governor Cuomo signed five pieces of legislation to further support New York veterans by improving healthcare and services, as well as memorialize veterans throughout New York State in a number of different ways. The package includes:

  • Adding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition in New York's medical marijuana program;
  • Providing combat veterans employed by the State with additional days of paid leave to obtain health services, counseling and access to other benefits;
  • Waiving the civil service examination fee for veterans who were honorably discharged;
  • Requiring the Department of State and Division of Military and Naval Affairs to maintain a public list of all not-for-profit corporations that solicit funds for the armed forces of the United States; and
  • Directing the Office of General Services to set aside a publicly accessible location within the State Capitol building for a POW/MIA chair and plaque to honor those veterans who have not yet returned home.

Applications for HEAP Now Open. The NY Heating and Cooling Assistance Program (HEAP) can help your family keep your home warm this winter. Applications for HEAP assistance for low-income households opened this week. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the winter until funding runs out.

State Parks Open Free to Public on Black Friday. The Governor has announced free admission to all New York State parks this Black Friday, November 24th, to encourage New Yorkers and their families to take advantage of the more than 335,000 acres of state-owned land next weekend. During Thanksgiving weekend, State Parks offers various family friendly events and programs at locations across the state. A full list of state park programs on Black Friday and over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is available here.

Talking to Your Kids about Suicide. Spotlight News ran an important editorial last week about youth suicide, and talking to your teens about mental health. Youth suicide rates were at a 40 year high in 2015, and have increased 30% for boys and more than doubled for girls. Iím glad to see more attention brought to this difficult topic, and highly recommend giving this column a read.

Community Updates & Events

Thacher Park Rock Climbing Facility Launched with record number of Climbers. I was thrilled to learn about another Capital Region tourism success story at Thacher State Park. The new climbing cliff has 53 new routes and has seen 820 individual climbers from 67 different cities in NYS, 26 different states, and 5 foreign countries! The Times Union ran an article last week highlighting the success of the climbing facility.

Bethlehem School Recycling Program Recognized. Bethlehem Schools were recently recognized for their recycling program, which has recycled more than 48 tons of paper and 10 tons of food waste!

Shop Small Business Saturday Next Week. Local businesses from around the region will be hosting Small Business Saturday events next Saturday, November 25th. Lark Street businesses that are part of the Lark Street BID will have all products marked 10% off. Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland will be hosting a variety of events and specials all day long.

Albany Facade Improvement Program. Applications and guidelines for the City of Albany's Small Business Facade Improvement Program are now available. The program allows commercial properties to receive grant of up to $10,000 ($15,000 for corner properties) to beautify street facing facades. The fall 2017 funding window will close on November 30, 2017. The winter 2018 funding window will open on February 5, 2018 and will close on March 31, 2018. Applications for each funding window will be accepted on a rolling basis until each window closes or until available funding is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Minority and Women Owned Business Workshops. The City School District of Albany will host three Minority and Women Owned Business Community Workshops from late November through January. These workshops are designed to help MWBE individuals and companies learn how to position themselves for work on facilities projects throughout the state and region. That includes the Albany High School rebuilding project that will begin in the spring.

The workshops will be held on these dates. The same material will be covered at each workshop:

Thursday, Nov. 30 -- Capital South Campus Center, 20 Warren St., 6:00-7:30 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 20 -- Albany High School, 700 Washington Ave., 6:00-7:30 PM

Tuesday, Jan. 23 -- Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School of Excellence, 50 N. Lark St., 6:00-7:30 PM

Personal Note:

I am sharing a very personal note about the passing of my mother, Eileen Fahy, on November 11th at the age of 88. Attached is her brief obituary which does little to sum up her life of love and devotion to her family. Some of the foundation in my life has crumbled, and as we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, I remind myself to give thanks for her many years and gratitude for her unconditional love. I am grateful for and draw strength from all of my extended family at this time and wish each of you the warmth of family and friends for Thanksgiving.

Job Opportunities: New York State has set up a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit jobs.ny.gov for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note, or give us a call at (518) 455-4178.