By Bill Parry
In what’s being touted as an unprecedented honor, several new state senators — including Queens’ Jessica Ramos — have been named to chair committees in the state legislature’s upper house starting in 2019.
Ramos was tapped to chair the Senate Labor Committee. The Jackson Heights resident defeated the late Jose Peralta in November in a campaign that relied heavily on her near decade of experience fighting for worker’s rights and standing with unions in the public and private sectors.
Ramos vowed to be a strong advocate for workers and labor unions across the state in the face of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision and the Trump administration’s support for Right to Work laws.
“Income inequality is the challenge of our time and collective bargaining the people’s weapon of choice. Work binds us together, raises families, and builds communities,” Ramos said. “As incoming Chair of the Senate Labor Committee, I want to make it abundantly clear that our mission is to harness and strengthen worker power. We will lift the floor and we will swell the ranks — protecting our immigrants, working moms, and every New Yorker.”
Ramos has received an outpouring of support from labor leaders, union activists, elected officials, and community leaders. Her roots in the labor movement includes time working for SSEU Local 371, 32BJ SEIU, and Build Up NYC with the Building Trades and the Hotel Trades Council.
“It is a privilege to be entrusted with this responsibility and I thank my Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as I begin the next chapter in my public service career and continue advocating for the working class,” Ramos said.
Now the state Senate’s incoming majority leader, Stewart-Cousins tapped several other rookie state senators to chair committees. Another new state senator from Queens, John Liu, was named to head the Senate New York City Education Subcommittee; Liu defeated incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella as the 11th District representative covering northeast Queens.
Stewart-Cousins also chose state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who’s based in Howard Beach, for a leadership position as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering in the new 2019 Legislative Season beginning in January.
“Having served as the ranking Democratic member of this committee for a number of years now. I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead this panel, and to help shape the future of the racing, gaming and wagering industries in New York State,” Addabbo said.
With Aqueduct Racetrack and the Resorts World New York City located in his district, Addabbo is very familiar with the economic impact of these industries both locally and statewide.
“Over the last few years, a number of casinos have opened throughout the state, and the Racing Committee will undoubtedly be paying close attention to their performance, contributions to the economy, and the concerns related to Gaming and Wagering.”
One important issue that will come before his committee in the New Year will likely be the future of legal sports betting in New York. The panel’s jurisdiction includes oversight of the state’s racetracks, video lottery terminal placements, care of retired racehorses, off-track betting, the New York State Lottery, charitable gaming, and other issues associated with racing and wagering in New York.
In addition, the Committee oversees the operations and regulatory mission of the NYS Gaming Commission, as well as the work of the New York Racing Association.
“As we move forward towards 2019, I am eager to continue the work of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee,” Addabbo said. “I look forward to hearing from stakeholders both inside and outside of government, including sports fans, those who work to combat problem gambling, horse racing interests, and of course, my own constituents. We must all work together to promote strengths and identify weaknesses in these critical industries throughout our state.”
Rounding out the State Senate committee assignments for Queens, James Sanders will lead the Senate Banks Committee; Leroy Comrie will head the Corporations Committee; and Toby Ann Stavisky will chair the Higher Education Committee. Michael Gianaris was named to serve as Deputy Majority Leader.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr