Category Archives: New York State Senate

New Laws Regulating School Bus Drivers

Measures Prevent Illegal Impairment of School Bus Drivers and Require Notification of Schools When School Employees are Charged With Sexual Offenses

 

The New York State Senate announced that Senate bills improving school bus safety and raising awareness of alleged sexual offenses by school employees have both been signed into law.

 

A measure (S2587E, Chapter 207), sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino, requires random drug and alcohol testing for all school bus drivers. The measure also increases the amount of time a bus driver can consume alcohol before going on duty and operating a school bus from six hours to eight hours. In recent years there have been a number of incidents of school bus drivers driving while intoxicated with children onboard. Current legislation requires only 10 percent of bus drivers to submit to random drug and alcohol testing. This new law will expand that requirement for all drivers, and requires the Department of Motor Vehicles be notified if a driver fails a test and permanently disqualify a driver from operating a school bus in the future.

 

Senator Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “When a child leaves home and gets on the school bus, no parent should have to worry if their child is safe. It is our responsibility to do everything that we can to put their well-being first. This bill will do just that.”

 

Another measure signed into law (S6597B, Chapter 233), sponsored by Senator Sue Serino, requires that the district attorney immediately notify the superintendent of schools or school administrator if a sexual offense allegation has been filed against one of their employees. Given the proximity of school district employees — including custodial, contracted workers, and others — it is imperative that school districts receive prompt notice to protect children when there are serious allegations involving sex offenses.

 

Senator Serino said, “No one who has ever harmed a child should ever have the opportunity to work in our schools. While the situation that occurred in Ossining is abhorrent, it spurred the school district, the community, and the state into action to successfully close a potentially dangerous loophole in our law. When Assemblymember Galef and I introduced this bill, it was about making sure that our schools and law enforcement have the tools they need to keep sex offenders out of our schools. I am glad that the Executive recognized the importance of this legislation and I am incredibly proud to see it signed into law today.”

 

Recently, reports surfaced that a custodian working in the Ossining School District was convicted on May 1, 2017 of two misdemeanors and two felonies, including the third-degree rape of a victim under 17. Although the employee was arrested for the crime over a year ago, he continued to work in the school throughout the course of the legal process where he had regular contact with minors. The school in which the perpetrator was employed was not made aware of the issue until it received an anonymous tip.

 

Visit Senator Marcellino’s webpage

Senator Phillips Tours Nassau County Corrections Center, Announces Funding for Jail Based Services

Funds Secured in Budget To Provide Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs

 

Senator Phillips toured the Nassau County Correctional Center recently with Sheriff Vera Fludd, President of Nassau County COBA Brian Sullivan, and Commissioner of Corrections Alphonzo Albright.  Together they observed the facility’s substance use disorder treatment programs.

 

Earlier this year Senator Phillips, a member of the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, announced $200,000 in state funding to help implement, support, and expand vital jail-based services at the Nassau County facility. This funding was part of $3.75 million the Task Force fought to include in the budget for substance use disorder treatment programs at 17 correctional facilities statewide.

 

“The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities throughout New York, and especially on Long Island. As our local jails continue to fill with those struggling from addiction, it is evident that a punitive approach will not work and that jail-based services provide a better path to recovery and reduced recidivism rates,” said Senator Phillips. “This important funding will help provide essential treatment programs and services to individuals in the Nassau County correctional system and will undoubtedly assist with their recovery as they reenter our local communities. Thank you to Sheriff Fludd and Brian Sullivan for their continued efforts to tackle the heroin and opioid epidemic in our region.”

 

County jails that currently offer treatment services have seen significant benefits, including decreased recidivism rates and cost savings.

 

“In addition to greatly reducing the recidivism rate and improving overall public safety, these programs help rebuild lives and stop the endless cycle of incarceration, ultimately saving thousands of dollars in taxpayer money,” said Phillips.

 

“We thank the members of the New York State Senate for securing funding to provide additional jail-based addiction services. Treatment and programmatic activities within the jail setting are critical in fighting the opioid epidemic and Nassau County’s agencies will work with Sheriff Vera Fludd to maximize the benefits of this additional funding,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

 

Brian Sullivan, President of Nassau County COBA said, “COBA is proud to stand with Senator Phillips in her efforts to combat the opioid crisis on Long Island. Senator Phillips has always been a friend to law enforcement and her commitment to her community is unmatched.

 

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Senator Phillips Announces New Law Protecting Children In Daycare From Smoking Hazards

Measure Closes a Loophole to Prohibit Smoking at All Times and All Areas Where Child Care is Provided

 

Senator Phillips announced that a bill she supported preventing second and third-hand smoke from harming children in child care was signed into law recently. The bill, S.7522, prohibits smoking at all times in areas of private homes that are used to provide child care services.

 

“Studies have repeatedly shown that both second and third-hand smoke can cause numerous health problems in infants and children, including respiratory and ear infections, asthma attacks and even sudden infant death syndrome,” said Senator Phillips. “I am pleased to have supported this legislation in an effort to create a healthier environment for kids in New York family daycare.”

 

The health impacts of third-hand smoke have been the subject of research in recent years. Most notably, a study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory demonstrated that third-hand smoke can lead to gene mutation, which, according to the Berkeley Lab News Center, is “associated with the development of diseases and is a critical mechanism responsible for many types of cancer caused by smoking and second-hand smoke exposure.” These findings also suggest that airing out indoor areas will not eliminate third-hand smoke.

 

Under current law, operators and residents of home-based daycare centers are permitted to smoke in these centers outside their hours of operation. Studies on the effects of third-hand smoke – defined as residual contamination from cigarette smoke toxicants that can linger on surfaces – have shown evidence of the same harmful effects associated with first and second-hand smoking. This new law will help protect infants and toddlers against carcinogens and other health risks by closing this dangerous loophole and prohibit home-based daycare centers from smoking in the rooms daycare is provided.

 

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Senator Phillips Says Scrap LIRR Fare Hike Until Service Improves

Phillips Calls on MTA to Scrap Plans for ’19 Hike Following Record Service Failures; Cites $8 Million ‘Summer of Hell’ Ticket Discount as Precedent for Linking Fares and Service

 

State Senator Elaine Phillips is calling on the MTA to link any future LIRR fare hikes to service improvements on the beleaguered line and said that without measurable gains, next year’s planned increase should be scrapped.

 

In a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota and the 22 members of its governing board, Phillips cited the railroad’s worst on-time performance in 20 years, and said the $8 million ticket savings that commuters received during the “summer of hell” Penn Station reconstruction was precedent for linking service levels with commuting costs. Phillips was first to call on the MTA to provide discounts to riders who faced delays and changes to their commuting routines.

 

“Raising fares while service continues to falter on a daily basis is a misguided move and will only further hurt the thousands of commuters who are already facing the worst rail service in two decades,” said Senator Phillips. “The MTA needs to scrap its fare hike plans until it can achieve measurable improvements in service, on-time performance and customer satisfaction, as well as a reduction in equipment breakdowns and avoidable delays.”

 

According to an audit by the State Comptroller, over 2,000 LIRR trains were delayed 15 minutes or more, impacting tens of thousands of commuters, in just the months of December and January. In just the past few weeks, the LIRR has had three derailments and three straight days of interrupted rush hour service causing over packed trains.

 

Meanwhile, the MTA is proposing up to a 4 percent fare increase—its seventh increase in the last decade—to take effect in 2019.

 

“LIRR commuters are not getting what they are paying for,” Phillips said. “And adding to their burden only brings insult to that injury.”

 

Phillips called on the MTA to set service improvement benchmarks that the LIRR must reach before any fare increases can go through.

 

She also called on the Board to reject any plan that would result in Nassau County commuters paying a disproportionate, larger share of any future fare hikes, as was recently proposed by one prominent MTA Board member.

 

“Additionally, the notion that the MTA would also propose to adopt an uneven fare hike plan weighted more heavily on Nassau County residents is unconscionable – and I will do all possible to ensure my constituents are not subjected to higher fares than other commuters,” Senator Phillips said.

 

Click here for a copy of Senator Phillips’ letter to the Lhota and the MTA Board.

 

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Senator Elaine Phillips Secures Funding for Nassau County Museum of Art

NC Museum of ArtContinuing her support of local arts and educational institutions, Senator Elaine Phillips announced that she has secured $75,000 in state funding for the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor.

 

“We are fortunate to have one of the nation’s largest, most important suburban art museums, the Nassau County Museum of Art, right here on Long Island,” said Senator Phillips. “The museum is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents as a museum and educational institution providing programs for all ages, including nearly 20,000 Long Island school children each year who take part in tours and art education activities. The nationally recognized museum is also a tourist draw for our region and provides numerous community outreach programs throughout the year. It was a pleasure to secure this funding to assist with needed renovations at the Museum.”

 

Formerly the Frick Estate, the 145-acre property in Roslyn Harbor boasts one of the largest publicly accessible sculpture parks on the East Coast. The sculpture park was founded in 1989 and houses more than 40 works of art entwined in the natural landscape. In addition to the sculpture park, the main structure — the Arnold & Joan Saltzman Fine Art Building, houses permanent and rotating collections and there are also numerous walking trails throughout the Gold Coast property.

 

“The Museum Board, staff, and volunteers greatly thanks Senator Phillips for her support to the museum. Her dedication to the local arts allows us to make necessary renovations to our facilities, while opening the door to more educational programs. We are very grateful for our relationship with the Senator and look forward to her visiting again,” said Board President, Angela Anton.

 

“We love it when Senator Phillips visits the museum. She gets what we are doing not just with art but education, she arrives with advice and ideas and then we find even more ways to help us fulfill our mission. Her support puts us on the road to turning our galleries and classrooms into world-class spaces for art. I wish she could come more often, it is like a transfusion of enthusiasm and smart strategies,” said Executive Director, Charles Riley.

 

“The Museum of Art has much to offer through its many exhibits and programs and I encourage Long Island residents to visit the museum as often as possible to view the rotating exhibitions, permanent collection, sculpture park and walking trails,” Senator Phillips said.

 

For more information about upcoming events, exhibitions and special programs, visit: www.nassaumuseum.org.

 

Pictured at the Museum of Art (left to right) are Charles Riley, Executive Director; Senator Philips; Angela Anton, Board of Trustees President; Monica Reischmann, Director of Development; Laura Lynch, Director of Education.

 

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Senator Phillips Honors Two Floral Park Eagle Scouts

Floral Park Eagle ScoutsSenator Elaine Phillips recently congratulated Michael Hyde and Matthew Killeen of Boy Scout Troop 482 in Floral Park for earning scouting’s highest honor; the rank of Eagle Scout.

 

At a ceremony held at the Floral Park American Legion, Senator Phillips presented Michael and Matthew with formal New York State Proclamations honoring their achievement.

 

“Eagle Scout is an honor aspired by many but achieved only by a select few. Successfully completing the years of hard work, training and community service needed to earn scouting’s highest rank, as Michael and Matthew have done, is a true testament of their commitment and dedication. Congratulations to Michael and Matthew, Scoutmaster Glen Zuccalmaglio, their families and entire Troop 482 on this outstanding achievement,” said Senator Phillips.

 

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Three Senate Bills to Combat Human Trafficking Signed into Law

Measures Help Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Increase Access to Crucial Services for All Victims of Human Trafficking

 

Senator Phillips announced three bills helping to end the sexual exploitation of children and provide victims of human trafficking with potentially life-saving services have become law.

 

“Astonishingly, sex trafficking continues to plague communities across the state and Long Island. The safety and security of our children is paramount and I am committed to doing all possible to the protect victims while seeking justice,” said Senator Phillips. “While in recent years New York has strengthened its criminal justice response to trafficking by increasing the accountability of traffickers, patronizers, and other exploiters – the law did not go far enough in helping to prevent the prevalence of the sexual exploitation of minors by holding traffickers more accountable for the devastating impact they have on the lives of children they abuse. I was proud to support several measures aimed to stop the sexual exploitation of children, increasing access to help and providing safe housing for victims.”

 

Helping to Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children:

A new law (S5988A) closes this dangerous loophole by creating the necessary criminal charge of sex trafficking of a child – eliminating the need to prove force, fraud, or coercion where a child under 18 engages in commercial sex. Unlike federal law, New York statutes prior to the signing of this bill put the onus on prosecutors to prove force, fraud, or coercion was used in order to find a person guilty of sex trafficking, even if the victim is a minor.

 

Increasing Access to Help for Victims of Human Trafficking:

Despite the fact that human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, many New Yorkers never see its effects, and namely, the victims among us. Reports indicate that trafficking networks often rely on legitimate businesses, such as hotels, to sustain their illegal operations. Because hotels are a known location for exploitation of victims, hotels are an ideal location for presentation of information about services for victims.

 

A new law (S8874), requires facilities such as hotels, inns, and motels to provide informational cards on the services available to victims of human trafficking. Information about services, such as the national trafficking hotline, will be made readily available to trafficking victims and other hotel guests and displayed in public spaces such as public restrooms, individual guest rooms, and near the entrance. This will ensure that victims have access to a discreet informational card so they are able to call the hotline for help at a later time.

 

Additionally, (S7836) will help expand the availability of the Human Trafficking Intervention Court (HTIC) Initiative to reach more victims. The Courts were created to provide alternatives to incarceration for people arrested on prostitution charges, since many of the defendants were also victims of human trafficking. Previous law stated that four of the six HTIC courts outside of New York City lack jurisdiction to see cases that originate outside of the local criminal courts where they are physically situated. This new law expands that jurisdiction so that more victims would be eligible to receive the crucial services that are appropriate for their individual situations, including counseling, job training, education, housing, and medical treatment, among others.

 

Providing Safe And Supportive Housing To Victims:

For many victims of human trafficking, one of the most immediate needs is a safe, supportive place to stay, especially for survivors who are fleeing an exploitative work or living situation.

 

Another measure, bill (S8305) has also been delivered to the Governor for review and helps establish short-term and long-term safe house residential facilities to be operated by not-for-profit agencies for victims of human trafficking. The residential facilities will be crucial in providing vulnerable victims services that include emergency shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and counseling and crisis intervention.

 

Visit Senator Phillips’ webpage

Senator Phillips Honors Local 9th Battalion At First Responders Appreciation Night

 9th Battalion Westbury Carle Place Fire DepartmentSenator Elaine Phillips recently hosted the last First Responders Appreciation Night in her summer series of events honoring the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect residents in the 7th Senate District. Honorees included 9th Battalion members of the Westbury and Carle Place Fire Department.

 

“Our local volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel are the backbone of Long Island communities and we cannot thank them enough for their courageous service keeping our families safe,” Senator Phillips said. “While no amount of thanks can express the appreciation we have for our first responders, or underscore the important role they play in our communities, events such as this provide an opportunity to recognize those that go above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you to all the fellow first responders, family and friends who came out to support our local heroes during the events over the last few weeks.”

 

Westbury

Lt. Dominic Buffolino was honored for his recent actions at a working fire. Lt. Buffolino, along with local police officers pulled a victim out of a burning building.

 

Carle Place

Ex Chief Patrick Fitzgerald was honored for 50 years of service to the Carle Place Fire Department. Ex Chief Fitzgerald remains active in response to alarms and is dedicated in serving his department and community.

 

Firefighter George Mutari was honored for his 48 years as a member of the Carle Place Fire Department. FF Mutari is know be extremely active in response to alarms and serves his department and the Carle Place community.

 

This event concluded the 2018 series of Senator Phillips’ “First Responder Appreciation Nights.”

 

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Senator Phillips Helps Floral Park Fire Department Celebrate 125 Years

Floral Park Fire DepartmentSenator Elaine Phillips recently had the opportunity to march alongside some of Floral Park’s bravest in a parade that celebrated 125 years of outstanding service of the Floral Park Fire Department.

 

“For 125 years, the members of the Floral Park Fire Department committed their lives and have repeatedly gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep the Floral Park community safe,” said Senator Phillips. “I want to thank Floral Park Chief David Maickel for allowing me to participate in the celebration and I especially want to relay my gratitude and deep respect to all the men and women who serve or have served this department.”

 

Floral Park Mayor Dominic Longobardi declared August 4th as “Floral Park Fire Department Day” in the Village which included the parade followed by food, music and a commendation ceremony. Members of the Elmont, New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Bellerose Terrace & Village and New York City fire departments also joined in the commemoration ceremonies.

 

A three part series on the 125-year history of the Floral Park Fire Department, produced by Four Village Studios, can be seen by visiting the Floral Park Fire Department’s web site at: https://fpvillage.org/departments/fire-department/.

 

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Sen. Marcellino’s Letter to MTA Chairman and CEO

Dear Chairman Lhota:

 

On August 1, 2018 a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train from Penn Station to Port Washington derailed on the Queens side of the East River tunnels. This is the second train that has derailed in that area in the past two weeks. Thankfully, no one was injured in either incident, but riders had to endure yet another round of service cancellations and delays.

 

Any derailment is dangerous and life threatening. It puts the ridership, employees and the greater public’s well-being in jeopardy. Two derailments in the same spot, in a two-week period, are unacceptable and calls into question the overall safety of the system.

 

Every individual who uses the trains or puts a loved one on a train on a daily basis deserves to know what is being done to prevent the next accident; an accident that may cause loss of life, injuries and substantial property damage. What is the plan, both long term and short term, to address these types of derailments? Is maintenance on the tracks and trains being neglected? What changes were made at the location of the most recent derailments between the July 21st incident and today?

 

The welfare of the ridership should always be the number one goal of the system. Recent events have called that commitment into question. I look forward to a timely response so I can share with my constituents what the MTA and LIRR are doing to give every rider the confidence that they will arrive at their destination safely.

 

Thank you in advance for your immediate action on this most serious safety issue.

 

Sincerely,
Carl L. Marcellino

 

Visit Senator Marcellino’s webpage