Category Archives: Elaine Phillips

Senate Passes Package of Bills to Protect, Assist, and Recognize Current, Former Military Service Members

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate has passed a package bills this week in an effort to care for and memorialize the courageous men and women who have served in our military, as well as those still on active-duty. The legislative measures will help protect the well-being of those who defend our freedoms, ease their financial worries, connect them with crucial benefits, and honor their service.

 

“The brave men and women who have answered the call to serve our country have done so with honor and resolve, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude,” Senator Phillips said. As elected officials, it is our duty to fight for them with the same ferocity they exhibited fighting to protect our liberty. This legislative package provide protections to veterans, ease the financial burden for them, and honor their service.”

 

Senator Phillips also honored U.S. Navy veteran Ralph Esposito of Floral Park Crest for his distinguished military career and commitment to providing necessary services to veterans. Joined by his wife, Joanna, Ralph was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame, which highlights the service of a veteran from each Senate District, during a special ceremony at the State Capitol today.

 

“Ralph Esposito embodies what it means to be an American hero – from his service in the Navy and dedication to the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, to his time Director of the Nassau County Veteran Service Agency,” Senator Phillips said. “Ralph’s selfless devotion to improving the lives of his fellow service members and caring for their loved ones is truly outstanding. It is an honor to recognize Ralph for his distinguished career and endless commitment to ensuring fellow veterans receive the care and help they deserve.”

 

Bills passed include:

 

Protecting the Welfare of Military Personnel

  • S927: Establishes a Class D felony for the crime of inciting violence against both active duty and reserve military service members in an effort to curb the destructive trend of targeting those who have made a career out of protecting the citizens of this country.
  • S955: Makes it a Class C felony to commit assault against an active-duty soldier if the accused’s intent was to prevent that soldier from performing their lawful duty.
  • S957A: Creates the Class E felony crime of stolen valor and directs that anyone convicted under this new crime pay a fee to be deposited into the veterans cemetery fund. Requires those who deplorably impersonate the brave men and women who served in the military – whether for money or other benefits – to pay a fee towards maintaining veterans’ cemeteries is a fitting way to ensure real heroes are honored appropriately.

 

Making it More Affordable to Live and Thrive in New York

  • S936A: Creates a task force to study and improve the job market for veterans. The task force, to be made up of stakeholders within state government, the private sector, and institutions of higher education, will be charged with holding annual public hearings and making recommendations to the legislature regarding ways the state can assist those who served our country in finding and maintaining meaningful employment opportunities.
  • S5642A: Creates a certified service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprise development and lending program to help provide financial and technical assistance to disabled veterans who have started a business in New York. Building upon the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act enacted in 2014, this legislation would help guarantee that certified service-disabled veteran-owned businesses have the necessary assistance to succeed.
  • S3879A: Encourages public employers to hire military service veterans by establishing the “Hire a Vet” program, which would provide grants to municipalities when a veteran is hired and employed. Similar to tax credits offered to private businesses, the grants would range from $5000 to $15000 for qualified and disabled veterans, and incentivize public employers to help honor and recognize sacrifices made by members of the military in service to their country.
  • S854: Provides free hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses to state residents who are active duty members of the United States armed services.
  • S3571: Streamlines the process for active duty service members to receive their free Empire Passport for state park usage. Current law requires the Empire Passport to be filled out annually and to be received in the mail, making the entire process lengthy and cumbersome. Active duty service members and their immediate family would instead be eligible for the free entry to state parks by providing their military ID upon entry.
  • S3336: Grants an additional real property tax exemption for two qualified veterans who reside in the same household in relation to the alternative veterans’ exemptions. This legislation would properly recognize and financially reward all veterans who have served their country and own property in New York.

 

Connecting Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families with Important Services

  • S255: Changes the eligibility dates for a military enhanced recognition, incentive and tribute scholarship to include all the military conflicts that occurred on or after June 1, 1982. The enactment of this bill would allow family members or financial dependents of New York State residents who were wounded or killed while serving the United States military from June 1, 1982 onward to qualify for academic scholarships such as the NYS Regents Award for Children of Veterans and the Military Service Recognition Scholarship.
  • S254: Provides surviving dependent family members of New York State military personnel who have died while performing official military duties with free tuition and room and board at CUNY or SUNY institutions, or a commensurate amount to be applied to a public college or university.
  • S5158: Assists service-related disabled veterans in affording a home by giving those with a VA disability rating of 40 percent or higher a preference in applications to the state’s Affordable Home Ownership Development Program. This legislation would help disabled veterans sustain a good quality of life after sacrificing their health for their country.
  • S2319: Creates a mechanism for parents or guardians who find themselves deployed for short-term military service to appoint a temporary guardian for their minor child or children while they are serving our country. With all the other worries and considerations that come with a deployment for military service, parents or guardians who are called upon to serve their country should be able to choose a guardian for their children during their deployment without undue complication.
  • S1013A: Authorizes military personnel scheduled for deployment in less than 30 days to get married within 24 hours of receiving their marriage license. Currently the mandatory waiting period of 24 hours for couples to get married is a hindrance to those expected to serve our country overseas and on short notice.
  • S944: Allows the ballot of an active duty service member who has died in combat to be counted towards the election for which it was cast. Current law prohibits the counting of an absentee ballot cast by any individual who died prior to the date of the election, but this bill gives our brave service members one final act of citizenship.
  • S2813: Updates provisions for leaves of absence for public employees who are war veterans to continue their education by including the current federal veterans educational programs.
  • S200A: Increases the base amount of the annuity for legally blind veterans and their unmarried widows, and clarifies that the formula for an annual increase consider the cost of living increase established for veteran benefits by the federal government on December 1, 2015. The blind annuity was established in 1923 in New York to help take care of veterans who made great sacrifices during wartime, and was last updated in 2004.
  • S3709: Establishes a Veterans’ Gerontological Advisory Committee. This measure would address the needs of a state with the second-highest veteran population in the country, and an older veteran population whose needs and problems pervade multiple geriatrics and gerontology disciplines. At no cost to the taxpayers, the advisory committee will be able to provide crucial recommendations to the Director of the Office for the Aging on policies, programs, services, and trends affecting the aging veteran population.
  • S733: Ensures job protection for both New York State public and private employees who live outside of New York and are deployed, as an active duty member of the National Guard.
  • S1011: Allows any individual who has served in active duty in the United States military to attend SUNY colleges and universities as an in-state resident. Under current law, active duty veterans who choose to come to study at SUNY colleges are charged out-of-state tuition – a significant amount not entirely covered by the federal GI bill. This bill would encourage service men and women to study at state colleges and universities, and start their futures in New York.
  • S1124A: Provides an annual increase to the Gold Star Parent Annuity in relation to increased annual costs of living. Established in 2008, the yearly compensation shows recognition for parents that have lost a son or daughter in the armed services during a time of war, yet it has never increased since its implementation.
  • S2189: Empowers the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs and other state agencies to study and address the alarming trend of homeless persons who are veterans in New York, as well as the amount of homeless veterans who are also parents. The study and analysis would help gather information on the number of homeless veterans in New York, and help lead to solutions to combat the growing problem among the men and women who have served in the military and are now homeless, as well as their children.

 

Showing Respect for and Recognition of Service to Country

  • S216: Designates March 13 of each year as “K9 Veterans Day” in this state.
  • S6606: Establishes the “New York State Silver Rose Veterans Service Certificate” for veterans exposed to dioxin or phenoxy herbicides during military service. This legislation would help to bring awareness to the long-suffered effects of exposure to tactical herbicides such as Agent Orange while also recognizing and honoring the tremendous sacrifice and bravery of our veterans.
  • S198: Creates a new Korean War Service Medal for military service abroad in the Korean War from June 25, 1950, through July 27, 1953.
  • S199: Creates the Vietnam War Service Medal for military service abroad in the Vietnam War from November 1, 1955, through April 30, 1975.
  • S3906: Establishes a veterans cemetery funding promotion program, building upon the Veterans Remembrance and Cemetery Maintenance and Operation Fund and New York State Veterans Cemetery program, both created in 2013 and administered by the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs. The legislation would require the Division to produce and conduct programs, projects, and materials designed to solicit financial contributions by individuals, groups, and corporations to give to the fund, in order to support the construction and maintenance of veterans’ cemeteries in New York. Also included in the bill are directions for the Division to apply for grants and contributions from governments and other institutional funding sources, and the production of an annual report on the activities, operations, and progress of the promotion program.
  • S7870: Establishes the “Veterans’ Memorials Preservation Act,” to help protect veterans’ memorials throughout the state. An omission under current law has resulted in many veterans’ memorials being destroyed by those with disregard for the sacrifices of our veterans – something this measure would help correct by further providing for the preservation of military history in New York to ensure that future generations understand the significance of what military service veterans have done to preserve democracy and freedom.
  • S3675A: Creates the option for a voluntary contribution on state personal income tax returns for congressional chartered veterans service organizations. By contributing to organizations like the Veterans Service Organizations Fund, taxpayers would be helping to cut through red tape and connect veterans with services they have earned without any effect on state fiscal concerns.

 

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.

 

Earlier this session, the Senate also succeeded in restoring significant budget funding cuts for veterans’ initiatives as part of the enacted budget and increased funding for several programs that support veterans and their families. Funding includes:

  • $645,000 in additional funding to expand the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Services Peer-to-Peer Program to an additional seven counties. Total funding for this successful program, which is based on veterans helping veterans, is now $3.7 million and reaches 23 counties;
  • $500,000 for the NYS Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program;
  • $450,000 for the Veteran’s Mental Health Training Initiative;
  • $220,000 to expand the Veterans Defense Program to Long Island;
  • $200,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project;
  • $200,000 for Warrior Salute;
  • $100,000 for the Veterans Justice Project;
  • $100,000 for the SAGE Veterans Project;
  • $50,000 for the Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council;
  • $200,000 for Helmets-to-Hardhats;
  • $25,000 for the Veterans Miracle Center; and
  • $125,000 for Veterans of Foreign Wars NYS Chapter Field Service Operations.

 

Information about the 2018 New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame will soon be posted at https://www.nysenate.gov/initiatives/honoring-our-veterans.

 

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Senator Phillips, North Shore University Hospital Host 2nd Annual Nurses Appreciation Ceremony

Nurses Appreciation CeremonySenator Elaine Phillips, in partnership with North Shore University Hospital, recently hosted the 2nd annual Nurses Appreciation Ceremony to honor nurses as part of National Nurses Week.

 

“Nurses are the frontline and backbone of our health care system, and are too often overlooked for their selfless devotion to patients, hospitals and communities,” Senator Phillips said. “Our region is fortunate to have some of the best nurses and healthcare facilities in the country. It was a privilege to recognize the outstanding nurses from North Shore University Hospital and personally thank them for their hard work and commitment to providing top-notch care to those in need on Long Island. Thank you to Northwell Health for co-hosting this celebration and congratulations to all the nurses.”

 

National Nurses Week runs from May 6 to May 12 and was first celebrated in 1954 on the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s famous mission to Crimea. In 1982, President Ronald Regan signed a proclamation making May 6 National Nurses Day. This year’s National Nurses Week theme was “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”

 

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Senator Phillips Announces Comprehensive Package of Legislation to Combat Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Senator Elaine Phillips announced recently that the New York State Senate passed measures to strengthen the state’s efforts to combat Lyme and tick-borne diseases at a time of year when ticks are becoming active once again. The bills assist in implementing the goals of the Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases by increasing public awareness and prevention and improving diagnosis and treatment to better protect the health of all New Yorkers.

 

“New York, especially Long Island, continues to see an increase in Lyme and tick-borne diseases and unfortunately we all know someone who has been affected by this debilitating disease,” said Senator Phillips, a member of the Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases. “The measures passed today further our efforts to promote awareness, boost prevention efforts and improve diagnosis and treatment opportunities. It is paramount that everyone not just understand these diseases, but that they have the tools needed to protect themselves and their families.”

 

In addition to today’s package of comprehensive bills, the Senate also approved a resolution (J4517) today designating May 2018 as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the State of New York. The resolution helps focus on this significant and complex disease, provides information on and raises public awareness of its causes, symptoms, and treatments, and underscores important education and research efforts surrounding Lyme and tick-borne diseases.

 

According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State has the third highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the entire country. Over the last decade, the number of people getting diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick, and flea bites has more than tripled across the country. While this problem has historically been concentrated on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, the state DOH reports that it’s quickly migrating to other counties across New York. Since Lyme reporting became available in 1986, there have been over 95,000 cases of Lyme in New York State alone.

 

While the Northeast United States remains one of the hardest-hit regions for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, the Senate has been actively working to help reverse this trend. The Task Force, which was created in 2013, has continued to engage stakeholders and develop legislation to address the epidemic. During this year’s budget negotiations, the Task Force was instrumental in securing $1 million – a record level of funding – to support ongoing education and prevention efforts.

 

Legislation passed today builds upon the progress already made by the Task Force to address the spread of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases and includes:

 

Expanding Education and Public Awareness

S2588: Provides homeowners with vital and reliable information on the best way to protect their property from ticks. People should be made more aware of the EPA’s approved pesticides that are recommended for tick prevention and the best methods to use pesticides to better protect both people and pets from exposure to ticks on their property. The bill directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop guidelines for best practices in treating residential properties to reduce exposure to ticks.

 

S7242: Directs the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to install and maintain tick warning signs at all state-managed parks, including trail entryways and campgrounds. The signs will inform the public that ticks may be found in such areas and that they can spread Lyme or other diseases.

 

Promoting Prevention and Strengthening Treatment

S7169: Establishes a pilot program for Lyme and tick-borne disease testing in children under the direction of the Commissioner of Health. This legislation will allow health care practitioners and providers to submit samples to exclude Lyme and tick-borne diseases from children who present with clinical diagnoses that have similar symptoms to these illnesses. The qualifying medical institution or laboratory chosen by the commissioner would be required to submit a report on health outcomes to DOH, as well as develop a graduate medical education curriculum to teach medical students about these illnesses.

 

S8534: Directs the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Health to promulgate and review rules and regulations related to pupils who have a tick removed from them during school or a school-sponsored activity. Both commissioners will be required to issue guidance to educators, particularly school nurses, regarding the removal of ticks from students and notification of parents. This legislation also provides for the development of informational materials on Lyme and tick-borne diseases for school districts and parents.

 

S8539: Requires the Department of Financial Services, in consultation with the DOH Commissioner, to conduct a study considering the current scope of health insurance coverage for Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The study will also examine initiatives in other states and the fiscal implications of various proposals.

 

S6926: Directs the Commissioner of Health to establish a standard protocol for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. This legislation requires the commissioner to work with health care providers and experts to develop a standard protocol process and patient notification of related symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and other information relating to Lyme and TBDs.

 

S7168: Requires a coroner, pathologist, medical examiner or other qualified examiner that discovers Lyme and tick-borne disease infections during an examination of a deceased person to report the case to the DOH. The legislation is a result of a recent Task Force forum, in conjunction with the Senate Health Committee, to provide appropriate surveillance and statistic accounting in cases where Lyme and TBDs underlie the primary cause of death.

 

S7208: Requires that the Council on Human Blood and Transfusion Services review current medical research and guidance regarding the donation of blood by patients with a history of Lyme or tick-borne illnesses. Concerns about blood donations and transfusions of blood with TBDs are not unfounded. In order to safeguard the state’s blood supply, its recipients, and prevent the potential spread of the disease, the council will research these concerns and make recommendations about blood donations to the Commissioner of Health based on currently available medical research.

 

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.

 

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Senator Phillips Announces Senate Passes Historic Package Of ‘Good Government’ Reforms

Measures Boost Accountability, Transparency, and Prevent the Misuse of Taxpayer Money

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced today that the New York State Senate passed the most sweeping package of good government reforms proposed in years. The measures, which she supported, will help ensure taxpayer monies are invested in effective programs, prevent real or perceived conflicts of interest and enhance transparency in government dealings, and increase the accountability of public officials.

 

“As elected officials, we must be held to the highest of ethical standards,” Senator Phillips said. “New York has played host to far too many political scandals – and New Yorkers are tired of their representatives abusing their power and recklessly handling state funds. This package increases transparency, protects taxpayer money and further holds all elected officials accountable to ensure government is working for the people. I applaud my Senate colleagues for passing this comprehensive legislative package, and urge Governor Cuomo and the Assembly to take up these measures.”

 

The bills passed by the Senate today include:

Preventing the Appearance of “Pay-to-Play” 
S8409: Limits political donations from parties applying for grants, licenses, or doing business with public entities to the public officials or candidates who would approve such grants, licenses, or contracts. Unfortunately, disclosures of significant donations by people or businesses who have received significant public contracts or licenses gives rise to public suspicion that there may be a relationship between the two occurrences, and thus to public cynicism and distrust of the process of how public bodies make decisions.

 

Prohibiting Certain Political Contributions by Government Appointees
S8404: Prohibits appointees who are appointed by the Executive to make political contributions to the Executive or his or her political campaign. The appointees would be prohibited from making political contributions within a year of appointment, during their term, and for a year after the term ends. It also prohibits the appointee from soliciting contributions on behalf of the Executive or the Executive’s campaign committee. This prohibition also applies to members in the appointee’s household.

 

A February 2018 New York Times article profiled a current trend whereby Executive appointees have made political contributions to the Executive totaling nearly $900,000. An atmosphere where appointees operate under the practice of making routine political contributions to the individual appointing them to their positions fosters skepticism and distrust of the political process in Albany, and leads hardworking citizens to believe that Albany in rife with a “pay-to-play” culture.

 

Requiring Financial Disclosure for Regional Economic Development Council Members
S922B: Codifies the existing Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) and requires appointees to comply with financial disclosure requirements and the code of ethics that all other public officers are currently bound by.

 

Since 2011, the Governor has appropriated more than $5.4 billion dollars to thousands of projects, through the Councils. The REDCs were never formally adopted into statute, giving the Governor the unrestricted ability to appoint the individuals who are at least partially responsible for determining the future of the State’s economic development. REDC members are also unilaterally appointed by the Governor and not subject to the financial disclosure requirements of the public officers law, resulting in no way for the public to be assured that there are no conflicts of interest or members engaging in self-serving activities. This bill would make the REDCs more transparent through increased public disclosure and further assure New Yorkers that their tax dollars are being allocated in an appropriate manner.

 

Developing a Searchable Subsidy Database
S6613B: Requires the creation of a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policy makers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy and create jobs.. The database would include the name and location of the participant; the time span of received economic development benefits; the type of benefit received; the total number of employees at all sites of a project; the number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project; the amount of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, cancelled or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant.

 

Creating the New York State Procurement Integrity Act
S3984A: Prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function, but in recent years, OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:

  • Restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts;
  • Expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to include contracts in excess of $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and
  • Prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;

 

Protecting State Investments When Deals Don’t Meet Expectations
S7697A: Ensures that the Public Authorities Control Broad members have sufficient information to make informed decisions prior to a vote approving funding and includes disclosure of claw-back provisions for instances when a project job creation claim does not come through, the state could recoup funding.

 

Creating an Independent Budget Office
S2325: Creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut and Vermont have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

 

Reforming START-UP NY
S5985A: Restores and bolsters reporting requirements for START-UP NY by requiring the preparation of an annual report, which would be provided to the Governor and the Legislature. The report would include, but is not limited to, the number of business applicants, number of businesses approved, benefits distributed and received, and the number of net new jobs created per business  - including cumulative data that reflects the amount previously recorded and adjusted for net new jobs that have been lost.

 

Providing More Stability in State Agency Leadership
S7781: Defines the length of time an individual may head a state agency or department in an acting capacity while the Legislature is both in and out of session, and it defines how often a person may serve in an acting capacity. Currently there is no limit to how long an individual may serve as the acting head of an agency or department. The legislation will provide stability at the executive level of New York’s many state agencies, as well as save taxpayer money.

 

Prevent Regulatory Steamrolling: 
S5912C: Would curtail state agency overuse of the emergency regulation process to ensure it is only used in true emergency situations when necessary to protect public health and safety. By amending the State Administrative Procedure Act’s emergency rulemaking provisions, it constricts the timeframe an agency can promulgate a single regulation as an emergency, and the circumstances surrounding the need for emergency rulemaking action by a state agency.

 

Making Economic Data Available to Help Measure Effectiveness
S3354: Directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses because of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to DOB.

 

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.

 

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Senator Phillips Sponsors Historic Legislation to Help Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Measure creates state fund to compensate all time-barred victims of abuse, eliminates the criminal statute of limitations and adds clergy to list of mandated reporters

 

Senator Elaine Phillips is sponsoring landmark legislation in the New York State Senate that will advance justice and healing for the courageous survivors of childhood sexual abuse by making it easier to prosecute perpetrators and provide restitution to victims. Key elements of the measure include creation of a $300 million state fund from asset forfeiture monies to compensate victims for physical and psychological harm and the elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for child sex offenses.

 

“The effects of childhood sexual abuse are often severe and long lasting — and the time has come in New York State to compensate all victims,” Senator Phillips said. “I am proud to sponsor this historic legislation, which not only includes providing timely restitution for victims, but also eliminates the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. With the input of advocates and experts, the New York Child Victims Reconciliation and Compensation Fund was crafted to ensure victims receive the compensation they are due and that additional measures are made to protect New York’s children.”

 

“Today Senator Elaine Phillips, and several colleagues, filed a comprehensive and important bill that will give compensation and justice to victims and out predators. This is a sincere effort by the sponsors to help past and future victims. The bill is a work in progress and I urge all parties to work together to bring long-sought healing and justice to victims of child sexual abuse,” said Gary Greenberg, founder of ProtectNYKids.

 

The cornerstone of the legislation is a state compensation fund that will be available to all time-barred victims of childhood sexual abuse. Administered and overseen by the New York State Comptroller and a chief administrator, the fund will be comprised of $300 million in asset forfeiture funds from the Manhattan district attorney’s office. After a hearing and review process facilitated by hearing officers experienced in sexual abuse cases, the claims administrator will make a decision on compensation. Information such as the abuser’s name will be made public in cases receiving monetary awards.

 

The legislation also eliminates the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of sex offenses against children. One of the most widely underreported crimes, estimates are that approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. As a wide body of research indicates, victims of child sexual abuse often take years, or even decades, to come forward as they struggle to come to terms with the abuse they endured as children.

 

Increased vigilance in reporting and preventing abuse are the goals of the final provisions of the bill which add members of the clergy to the list of “mandated reporters” obligated to report suspected abuse and require criminal background checks for employees and volunteers who work with children.

 

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Senate Passes Senator Phillips’ Legislation Expanding STAR Program

Expansion is Part of the Majority’s Package to Make New York More Affordable; Other measures Eliminate County and Reduce City Mandated Medicaid Contributions to Give Dollar-for-Dollar Cuts in Taxes, and Reduce Taxes for Seniors and Utility Customers

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate has passed her legislation significantly expanding the STAR property tax relief program as part of the Senate Majority’s sweeping affordability package that focuses on property taxes, energy costs, unfunded mandates, and other drivers that are making it harder for middle-class families to succeed.

 

“The cost of living in New York, especially on Long Island, continues to rise and it is time we provide the hardworking taxpayers of our state with much needed and deserved financial relief,” Senator Phillips said. “By significantly expanding the already successful STAR property tax relief program by 25 percent, we are reinforcing our commitment to reduce the property tax burden and make New York more affordable for citizens to live and raise families.”

 

The bill, S.8398, provides additional property tax relief for all STAR-eligible New Yorkers by increasing the amount of the property tax relief credit by 25 percent. This bill expands an already successful program first created by Senate Republicans that is helping to reduce the property tax burden and helps mitigate tax savings that could be lost as a result of the recent federal State and Local Tax deduction. The increase would take effect in the 2019 tax year and save an expected $331 million by 2020, $1.6 billion annually thereafter.

 

The Senate Majority’s affordability package would result in billions of dollars in savings annually for taxpayers in the form of new and expanded property tax cuts, including the state assuming local Medicaid costs. The package also includes eliminating costly energy taxes; creating new tax cuts for seniors to prevent them from moving to another state; requiring a supermajority vote when taxes are increased by state and local governments; and preventing unfunded mandates from being passed on to the taxpayer.

 

Cutting Local Medicaid Contributions to Give Direct Property Tax Relief

The largest savings from this package comes from two initiatives that require the state to assume the local share of Medicaid payments. Since the enactment of the Medicaid program in 1965, counties and the City of New York have been required to share in both its cost and administrative operation. The State is responsible for program design and, over the course of several years, the overall administration of the program has been gradually shifting to the state. The counties’ Medicaid share is currently capped at 2015 levels and the current local contribution amount to the state for Medicaid is a combined statewide total of $7.63 billion.

 

The first bill, S.8411, reduces the local Medicaid contribution by 20 percent a year over five years for all counties outside New York City. The counties must then enact dollar-for-dollar reductions in property taxes, resulting in direct taxpayer savings of up to $451 million in the first year alone, and $2.3 billion when fully effective.

 

The second bill, S.8412, reduces counties’ contributions by 10 percent a year over 10 years and again requires that $2.3 billion in cumulative savings to be returned dollar-for-dollar back to property taxpayers. In New York City, the contribution would also be reduced by up to $2.3 billion and returned to taxpayers in the form of a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the personal income tax. In addition, the city would be required to enact a two-percent property tax cap similar to what is already in effect in the rest of the state and which has already saved taxpayers $23 billion to date.


Providing $280 Million in New Energy Tax Relief

S.8399: Saves business and resident ratepayers by phasing in a new elimination of the two-percent Gross Receipts Tax on utility bills. S8407 eliminates the base underlying 18-A assessment tax and shifts the cost of the Public Service Commission to the General Fund. Together, they will result in needed reduction in consumers’ utility bills and provide a total savings of $280 million.

 

Eliminating Property Taxes for Seniors to Keep Them in New York

S.8406: Creates a senior school tax rate that phases in a yearly 10 percent reduction of school taxes, based on age of the eligible senior, starting at age 70 to reduce the burden that seniors face when paying the school tax portions of their real property tax bills. By reducing the financial burden of home ownership for seniors, this bill may make it more affordable for a larger number of seniors to stay in New York State instead of relocating to states with less burdensome real property tax rates. The bill would save $274 million by 2022 and $556 million by 2023.

 

Increasing Retirement Exemptions to Make Living in New York More Affordable

S.414A: Helps more seniors save money and choose to stay in New York during their retirement by increasing the private pension and retirement income exclusion from $20,000 to $40,000 for single taxpayers and up to $80,000 for married taxpayers, over three years. This would be the first increase to the exempt amount for private pensions and retirement since 1981 and will save retirees approximately $275 million.

 

 

Requiring a Supermajority for New Tax Hikes

S.8401: Requires a two-thirds vote from each house of the state legislature to increase, impose, or extend taxes, a two-thirds vote from local legislative bodies to increase, impose, or extend local taxes, and a two-thirds vote from local legislative bodies requesting an increase, imposition, or extension of taxes by the state legislature. This bill holds elected officials more accountable to the state’s taxpayers, both at the state and the local levels of government, by requiring a supermajority. S.8402 would also accomplish the supermajority requirement for state and local tax laws by proposing a constitutional amendment.

 

Preventing Unfunded Mandates /Local Tax Increases

S.8400: Proposes a constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes by prohibiting many of the unfunded mandates that place a hardship on local governments. The bill would prevent state government from passing a financial burden of new mandates to local governments without financial assistance, preventing them from being forced to decide between taking resources from already strained local programs and redirecting those funds to the latest unfunded mandate, or turning to already over-burdened taxpayers for additional support.

 

Making Education More Affordable

S.7783: Makes New York’s tax law consistent with changes to 529-plan tuition eligibility that recently took effect on the federal level. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted last year expanded the use of 529 plans to include tuition expenses for attendance at elementary or secondary schools, but existing tax law in New York may not allow such expenses to be eligible. This bill enables 529 plan distributions used to pay for elementary or secondary school tuition expenses after January 1, 2018, to have the same tax benefits as distributions used for attending an eligible institution of higher education.

 

The package builds upon the Senate Republican Majority’s record of success in securing new and needed tax relief. This year alone, the conference led the way to include a provision in the budget that will help protect taxpayers from the negative impacts of federal tax changes by enabling a decoupling of the state and federal tax codes to prevent New Yorkers from taking a $1.5 billion state tax hit as a result of the SALT deduction changes. Earlier this year, the Senate also passed legislation (S1207)to make the property tax cap permanent and to enact a two-percent spending cap into law (S365).The self-imposed spending cap has already saved taxpayers $41 billion to date.

 

 

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Senate Passes 2018 Jobs And Opportunity Agenda

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate has passed the 2018 Jobs and Opportunity Agenda, which she supported, to strengthen the state’s economy and create needed jobs for hardworking New Yorkers.

 

“The high cost of living and excessive tax burdens continue to make it difficult for hardworking Long Islanders to make ends meet,” Senator Phillips said. “This legislative package eases that burden by investing in workforce development and job growth, slashing excessively high taxes on businesses and removing regulatory road blocks preventing business growth. We must continue making New York a more business-friendly state to continue promoting entrepreneurship, economic improvement and job growth.”

 

The Republican Majority Conference’s plan focuses on comprehensive tax, regulatory, and economic development reforms that will help make New York more competitive and foster job growth at a time when the state’s private sector faces widespread obstacles to success.

 

The Jobs and Opportunity Agenda is part of the three-pronged “Blueprint for a Stronger New York” that focuses on making the state less costly and more attractive for hardworking New Yorkers. When combined together, the Blueprint’s Affordability, Opportunity, and Security Agendas will comprise a powerful and comprehensive plan to give all New Yorkers the opportunity to succeed.

 

Cutting Taxes on Small Businesses

 

Creating STAR for Small Businesses

S1116A: Allows real property owned by a small business (100 or less employees) to be eligible for the STAR property tax savings program, saving $275 million;

 

Saving Hundreds of Millions in Taxes for Small Businesses and Farms

S2120A: Provides significant new tax savings for small businesses and small farms by expanding the existing Personal Income Tax exemption and reducing the Corporate Franchise Tax business income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over a two-year period. The bill would save a total of $495 million when fully implemented.

 

Expanding the Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit

S6793A: Helps businesses who promote the success of student employees. The minimum wage reimbursement tax credit provides eligible employers with a credit for employing students at the minimum wage rate. Currently, the tax credit is designed to incentivize employers to hire and train student-employees who may be new to the labor market. Unfortunately, the way the credit is presently structured, employers who give hard-working student-employees even a modest hourly raise are no longer eligible to receive credit for those student-employees. This bill would correct this disincentive to provide student-employees with a modest raise by allowing credit for wages that are not in excess of the applicable minimum wage plus fifty cents.

 

Cutting Red Tape and Over-regulation

 

Providing Time for Businesses to Raise Concerns with New Regulations

S6095: Allows the Administrative Regulations Review Commission to examine an issue and vote on a 90-day delay prior to the adoption of proposed administrative rules. This will help when businesses raise concerns about possible rulemaking inconsistencies with statutory authority or legislative intent, or when requirements could potentially burden taxpayers or local governments.

 

Reducing Regulatory Fines on Small Businesses

S4120A: Gives first-time offenders of state small business regulations a reprieve from paying fines to help foster a productive relationship between the state and business owners. The measure would prevent the state from fining a small business for a first violation of regulations, unless the agency determines that the violation directly affects public health or safety. The agency then would provide literature or an in-person meeting to inform such small business of its regulations to improve compliance.

 

Preventing Unfunded Mandates for Local Governments and their Taxpayers

S5828: Establishes the Unfunded Mandate Review Act to protect local governments from mandated policies that they must pay for, and in turn protects taxpayers from increasing tax levies. The bill requires the Comptroller to provide the fiscal impact notes upon request of a committee for any bill including an unfunded mandate, conduct a continuing mandate study of unfunded mandates upon any local government, and prepare comparative costs of proposed regulations.

 

Promoting Mandate Relief in Regulatory Processes

S5791: Promotes mandate relief and flexibility in tailoring regulatory requirements to the specific needs and capabilities of local governments. The bill restores recently expired provisions that streamlined the process for submitting petitions to request approval of an alternate method to meet a regulatory mandate.

 

Examining the Overall Effectiveness of the State Administrative Procedure Act

S2133: Creates a Task Force charged with examining, evaluating, and making recommendations about the efficiency of the rulemaking process in the State Administrative Procedures Act. Since 1975, this act has been amended numerous times but has never undergone a comprehensive review its overall effectiveness. The Task Force would help ensure consistent, uniform rules are established and whether the existing statutory process results in rules, regulations, and licenses that are overly burdensome on regulated entities.

 

Creating New Authority to Contest Overly Burdensome Rules

S5982A: Allows the state Administrative Regulation Review Commission (ARRC) to file a formal objection to proposed rules when they are burdensome and harmful to businesses, local governments, or other regulated parties. This bill seeks to encourage agencies to consider changing rules to accommodate the concerns raised by ARRC with the goal of having the agencies reconsider the rule.

 

Establishing a Small Business Liaison Position in State Agencies

S6706: Fosters communication and cooperation be designating an existing state agency employee as a “Small Business Liaison”, responsible for providing businesses with a reliable contact. The liaison will give important regulatory information, hear the businesses concerns and advocate on behalf of the business within the agency. It expands on the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s successful implementation of an “Advocate for Business” that connects New York State business owners to help understanding the complex workers’ compensation system.

 

Supporting Businesses in Enhancing Environmental Compliance

S2999A: Provides financial assistance to small businesses for the purpose of pollution prevention, control and compliance. By increasing access to capital for small businesses seeking to pursue pollution prevention improvements, even when compliance is not an immediate issue, both the business and the state’s environment will benefit from the enhanced environmental performance.

 

Establishing the “GrowNY” Pilot Program

S3392A: Establishes the GrowNY pilot program, an economic gardening pilot program within the state Department of Economic Development to stimulate investment in the state economy by providing technical assistance for expanding businesses in the state. Economic gardening is a long-term entrepreneurial strategy designed to generate new jobs from the existing base of businesses in the community.

 

Strengthening Procedures for Negotiated Rule Making

S4590A: Promotes greater involvement of small businesses in the rulemaking process and make it more open and fair. The bill requires negotiated rulemaking to provide additional opportunities for small business and the public to directly participate in the development of proposed agency regulations. Negotiated rulemaking allows small business owners and representatives of all significant interests who would be affected by a regulation to meet and develop as broad a consensus as possible on terms of a rulemaking proposal.

 

Two other critical regulatory reform bills are expected to be acted upon by the Senate next week

 

Prevent Regulatory Steamrolling

S5912C: Curtails state agency overuse of the emergency regulation process to ensure it is only used in true emergency situations when necessary to protect public health and safety. By amending the State Administrative Procedure Act’s emergency rulemaking provisions, it constricts the timeframe an agency can promulgate a single regulation as an emergency, and the circumstances surrounding the need for emergency rulemaking action by a state agency.

 

Updating State Contract MWBE Requirements

S1126A: Helps better reflect the number of certified Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) businesses in each region of the state. Across the state, businesses are required to contract services from MWBEs at 30 percent of their total business service. In many areas of the state, MWBEs are severely under-represented, making it difficult for existing business owners to be awarded a state contract. This bill amends the current law so contracting agencies would only be required to contract with the number of MWBEs correlating to the percentage of MWBEs in that industry in the economic development region where the contract is to be performed.

 

Making New York a Leader in Job Training

 

Attracting Talented Educators Who Prepare the Next Generation

S1469A: Increases access to career and tech programs at BOCES. The bill would increase the current salary cap for BOCES CTE instructors from $30,000 to $50,000 phased-in over five years to attract and retain qualified and skilled teachers.

 

Encouraging Statewide Participation in Apprenticeships

S2124B: Directs the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for use by high school guidance counselors in facilitating student awareness and interest in apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and career and technical education opportunities. This would particularly apply to the hardworking men and women looking to gain footing in the building, construction, manufacturing, and maritime trades where positions all across the state are often left unfulfilled.

 

Establishing the “Retrain and Employ Unemployed Persons Program”

S2232A: Directs SUNY and CUNY community colleges to work with local businesses and industry to develop work force training programs that target the unemployed and provide the skills necessary for individuals to obtain jobs in their communities. This bill also provides funding for the initial creation of this program by providing $500,000 in grants to start and additional incentive funding to those community colleges that successfully place trained individuals in jobs.

 

The bills have been sent to the Assembly, except S5912C and S1126A, which are expected to be acted upon by the Senate next week.

 

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Senator Phillips Honors Woman of Distinction Lin Pan

Lin PanLin Pan has been in the real estate industry for over ten years and founded Lin Pan Realty on Long Island in 2012, primarily focusing on residential real estate. From Manhattan to Long Island, the team under her lead provides one-step service covering residential, commercial, management and development for customers’ needs.

 

Clients choose to work with Ms. Pan for her outstanding service, ethics, experience and expertise. Her strong base of loyal, repeat customers is the reason she has been so successful for more than a decade. Repeat buyers and valued clients all trust her professional counsel and judgement on multi-million dollar deals.

 

While her team is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, Ms. Pan reaches across every population to help individuals and families achieve their home buying dreams. She contributes greatly to her community, sponsoring events such as the Long Island Chinese Association’s Chinese New Year Parade, USTC Alumni Great Neck Chinese Association’s Great Neck Chinese New Year Celebration, the Great Neck Annual Easter Egg Hunt, Nassau Police Child ID program, and the Chinatown BID. Ms. Pan also serves her community as Vice President of the Long Island Chinese American Association, and as an active member of the Long Island Board of Realtors and Long Island Commercial Network.

 

Throughout her career, Ms. Pan has received many honors. She was named “20 Under 40 Rising Stars” by the Long Island Board of Realtors in 2012, the only Asian-American broker to receive this award. In 2014, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council asked her to join its “Workshop for Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs,” and in 2015, she received the Community Award from the Asian Economic Advisory Commission for Nassau County.

 

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Senator Phillips Welcomes Westbrook Preparatory Students to State Capital

Senate Passes Resolution Commending Westbrook Preparatory School On Its 7th Anniversary

 

Westbrook Preparatory School Senator Elaine Phillips announced  that the New York State Senate has passed a formal Resolution, which she sponsored, commending Westbrook Preparatory School in Westbury on celebrating its 7th anniversary. Senator Phillips met with students and administrators from Westbrook at the State Capital today.

 

“As the first residential New York State Regents junior/senior high school for students with Asperger syndrome, high functioning autism and related conditions, the Westbrook Preparatory School provides direct intervention and long term planning to help students adapt, communicate and learn,” Senator Elaine Phillips said. “The school creates a supportive, therapeutic environment to allow each student to develop the daily living skills and emotional strength while furthering their education. It was an honor to welcome students and faculty to the State Capital and pass a formal New York State Resolution celebrating the school’s anniversary.”

 

The Westbrook Preparatory School is the first residential New York State Regents junior/senior high school for students with Asperger syndrome, high functioning autism and related conditions and it began with concerned parents who had something in common: a child with high functioning autism.

 

In 2006, New York State started a plan to bring students with special needs back to New York who had previously been sent out of state due to a lack of well-suited schools. As a result, New York opened the Westbrook Preparatory School in 2011.

 

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Senator Phillips Announces Passage of New York Senate’s ‘Drug Take Back Act’

Bill Creates a New Statewide Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program to Hold Pharmaceutical Companies – Not Taxpayers – Accountable for Proper Drug Disposal

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate passed the “Drug Take Back Act,” which she co-sponsored, that helps prevent opioids or other unused prescriptions from being abused and protects water supplies from improper disposal.

 

“Families on Long Island, and across New York State, are struggling with the devastation and heartbreak caused by our heroin and opioid crisis,” Senator Phillips said. “This measure not only helps prevent dangerous prescription medications from being abused, but provides another tool in the collaborative fight to end this epidemic. Increasing proper disposal methods will also protect our environment by curbing the amount of medication flushed into our sole-source of drinking water. I am proud to be a co-sponsor and I applaud my colleagues for passing this measure.”

 

The bill, S7354, would provide significantly more opportunities for New Yorkers to ensure the safe disposal of unused drugs by establishing a new statewide pharmaceutical drug take-back program.

 

Last year, Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill (S6750) that would have helped expand existing drug take-back efforts, stop more opioids from getting into the hands of abusers, and prevent the contamination of the environment. This new bill was introduced to create a unified, statewide drug take-back program that saves taxpayer money spent on programs currently operated by law enforcement agencies and public officials and helps reduce medication misuse and improper disposal.

 

The Drug Take Back Act holds pharmaceutical manufacturers responsible for all costs of the take-back program, ranging from public education and awareness to drug collection, transport, and destruction. The Act further requires chain pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies to provide consumers with collection options including drop boxes and prepaid mail-back envelopes.

 

Opioid addictions are known to start when individuals access leftover prescriptions found at home in medicine cabinets. By giving New Yorkers more opportunities to find ways to properly dispose of unused drugs, the potential for abuse and addiction is decreased. In addition, proper disposal helps protect the state’s water supplies because fewer people would improperly dispose of drugs by flushing them down a toilet or using other means that result in water contamination and negative impacts to aquatic life. Last year, New York made a historic $2.5 billion investment in improving and protecting water resources, and keeping drugs out of water supplies is another important and necessary step. This measure was also included in the Senate’s one-house budget proposal passed earlier this year.

 

The Senate today passed another bill, S6673, which Senator Phillips co-sponsored, that requires the state Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation to create, maintain, and regularly update a statewide web-based listing of prescription drug disposal sites, events, and other disposal options for consumers. The site would be searchable by zip code so New Yorkers can find a site closest to them when they need to get rid of prescriptions or other drugs in their homes.

 

“Creating a searchable database for disposal sites and events ensures New Yorkers have the resources to dispose of unused medications,” Senator Phillips said. “The option to properly dispose of drugs should be readily available to all New Yorkers – and this measure does just that.”

 

The bills were sent to the Assembly.

 

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