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Queens lawmaker passes dozens of bills before state Legislature breaks for summer

State Senator James Sanders gets dozens of pieces of legislation passed during "a most productive" legislative session. (Photo courtesy of Sanders' office)

As the legislative session drew to a close, southeast Queens state Senator James Sanders was one of the most prolific legislators in the state with dozens of bills he introduced and co-sponsored passed before the summer break.

“This is what happens when government works and works well,” Sanders said. “I am proud of how productive my Democratic colleagues and I were during this session. It is because of that teamwork that I was able to get many bills passed that will help my district and the entire state.”

Sanders passed legislation that would create a task force on improving urban and rural access to healthy foods; another bill that will help small businesses gain access to reduced-rate financing so they can undertake investment; and another measure that will increase nursing home transparency.

Sanders also passed legislation to reduce asthma rates and another measure to address flood mitigation in southeast Queens, particularly in Idlewild Park, temporarily suspending use of certain parts in order to complete storm sewer construction.

“Southeast Queens has been underwater long enough,” Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said. “Our communities deserve improved infrastructure that will ensure safety during weather-related incidents like floods and storms.”

Sanders, a Marine Corps veteran, also helped pass legislation to create a veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention task force, and another that helps veterans suffering from illnesses due to their exposure to toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, from so-called burn pits which were used extensively in the Middle East during conflicts in the past 30 years.

After the Vietnam War, it took many years to fully realize the extent of the health damage done to servicemen and women due to Agent Orange. Sanders’ bill ensures veterans can access New York courts with a cause of action without being barred by the typical period of limitation.

“This bill is long overdue,” NYS Council of Veterans Chairman Robert Becker said.

Other pieces of legislation passed by Sanders include consumer protections, foreclosure rights for homeowners, employee rights in regards to electronic monitoring, and another measure in the fight against sickle cell disease which requires hospitals to distribute literature to at-risk patients.

“We have been pushing for passage of this legislation for a decade,” Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation Corp. International President and CEO Merlene Smith Sotillo said. “So many African American communities across New York state are at risk of sickle cell disease and do not even know it. This is true for southeast Queens. This legislation will educate these at-risk communities of the risks and allow them to make informed decisions regarding sickle cell disease.”

Additional measures passed by Sanders address the opioid crisis, work toward healthier and environmentally safer roads and promote recycling. Another directs the department of financial services to conduct a study on certain impacts of COVID-19 crisis that would inform policymakers and the public on how the pandemic impacted minority and low-income communities as it relates to the banking sector.

After surveying the accomplishments made in the Senate and Assembly before the summer break began, Governor Andrew Cuomo had high praise for both chambers, despite his own bill to restructure the MTA having failed.

“This legislative session more was done intelligently than probably any legislative session that I participated in, and that’s from the budget right through the end,” Cuomo said.

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