Category Archives: New York State Senate

Senator Phillips Welcomes Westbury Union Free School District Students To State Capital

Westbury studentsSenator Elaine Phillips hosted students and several school board trustees from the Westbury Union Free School District at the State Capital today. The group came to Albany to advocate for an increase in school foundation aid in the state budget.

 

“In my first year as State Senator, I was able to deliver a record increase in school aid to my district and Westbury received the highest increase,” Senator Phillips said. “I know they need additional funding and I have been working hard to bring home more of our fair share this year. Our students deserve the highest quality of education possible and I remain committed to making sure schools like Westbury have the funding resources they need to make that happen.”

 

Pedro Quintanilla, Westbury Board of Education Trustee said, “The students have become aware of the funding gap that their school district is suffering, so on Tuesday afternoon they started to organize this trip to Albany on their own. They had an online fundraiser to pay for the bus and asked myself and a few other board members to chaperone. They traveled to the Capital to advocate and impress upon the need to have equity. I would like to thank Senator Phillips for her unwavering and consistent support of our school District. From day one she has tried to ensure that Westbury receives equitable foundation aid.”

 

Dr. Stanton Brown, Westbury Board of Education Trustee said, “The students are here advocating for themselves to get foundation aid to 55% after they realized they were being shortchanged. They did it without the school’s help, they did it locally within 24 hours and they arranged the trip so they could come to Albany to relay their plight and hope for the best. We are indebted to Senator Phillips for her efforts toward Westbury and particularly for her support in getting these kids to Albany today for this great opportunity for them to express their concerns.”

 

The students visited the Senate Chamber and toured the State Capitol with Senator Phillips before sitting down and discussing their concerns with the Senator and local Assembly members.

 

“Late yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call indicating that 40-50 Westbury students were trying to get to Albany to meet with myself and members of the Assembly to advocate on behalf of an increase in foundation aid and I offered my assistance to make that happen,” said Senator Elaine Phillips. “I truly believe that the future of our state and nation depends upon the participation and interest of our youth and I applaud the students for taking the initiative and arranging this trip on their own. It was a pleasure to spend time speaking about foundation aid, the history of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and the needs of the district with this engaged and intelligent group of young individuals.”

 

Jessica Ellis, 11th Grade, President Westbury Student Council said, “We voiced our concerns today and I hope the legislators listened to what we had to say. We had many conversations and hope that they give us the foundation aid we deserve. We didn’t come here for 100%, but we want the 55% we are owed that will give us enough to operate our buildings and have the high school experience we deserve.”

 

Jahshua Taylor, 11th Grade, President of the Time for Action Initiative and Junior Administrator said, “We’re here today to advocate for the students who attend Westbury High School. I believe that we are underfunded due to us being poor. I believe we came on the right day, at the right time, because this is the day they are going to take everything into consideration. There should be no such thing as ‘high needs’ – we just have to find a way to prioritize money in New York.”

 

Brenda Odon, Advisor & Westbury Community Organizer said. “This is not a school-funded event. The children, as well as myself, have been very active in the community attending school board meetings and expressing our concerns. They didn’t come to learn today, they came to make a statement. And the statement is Westbury is underfunded. They’re here because they want to express to elected officials that they are paying attention, and they’re here to say don’t forget about us.”

 

“Today was a great learning experience for both the Westbury students and myself. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the district’s needs from the student’s perspective and I will continue to advocate on their behalf. I look forward to meeting with the students, trustees and administrators again in the near future,” said Senator Phillips.

 

Visit Senator Phillips’ webpage

Senator Elaine Phillips Comments on Belmont Park Redevelopment Plan

Senator Elaine Phillips provided the following statement at the March 22, 2018 Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) public scoping meeting for the Belmont Park Redevelopment plan.

 

As State Senator for the 7th Senatorial District, I want to provide input, as well as bring to the attention of Empire State Development Corporation, concerns that have been shared with me from various stakeholders from the Belmont Park communities.

 

While I believe that the Belmont Park Redevelopment plan is a positive step forward in providing a long overdue economic boost for the region, it cannot come at the expense of local residents and their quality of life.

 

The Belmont Park communities have brought serious, thoughtful and insightful concerns to my attention as a result of the changes in the draft scoping document published on the ESD website.

 

As part of my listening effort regarding this plan, I have spoken with our local school districts, elected officials and recently took a tour in and around the Belmont property. During that tour, many of these concerns were highlighted to me.

 

First, putting a 40,000 square foot electrical substation next to Floral Park-Bellerose School is inappropriate, short-sighted and directly impacts quality of life. Not only are these school grounds, but they are utilized by local athletic leagues in the evenings and weekends. This is a non-starter and must be immediately addressed by developers and PSEG. One only has to look at the Belmont Property to see that there are far better locations for the substation that will meet the needs of the economic development plan.

 

Second, I have very serious concerns regarding the height of the proposed hotel. If the hotel is developed, as it is outlined in the scoping document, the structure will become the tallest building in Nassau County. Simply stated, the height of the hotel should complement the track and arena and not negatively impact the quality of life for our community.

 

Third, the plan must provide an adequate and abundant barrier between residential homes along the South Lot. The quality of life that residents of Elmont and Floral Park currently enjoy should not be impacted by development as a next door neighbor.Fourth, Plainfield Ave is a major thoroughfare through the Elmont and Floral Park communities. This artery is the home of Floral Park Memorial High School, Our Lady of Victory, several dozen homes and is an entranceway to Our Lady of Victory and Emanuel Baptist Churches.

 

The integrity of this corridor should not be adversely impacted by traffic patterns that could evolve into safety issues. The Plainfield Avenue entrance must be restricted for the New York Racing Association. Specifically, this entrance should only be used for horsemen, NYRA and the Equine Hospital.

 

Fifth, traffic studies cannot be limited to a half mile radius. The impact of the project far exceeds a half mile. To that end, traffic studies should look towards the impact of contiguous communities. In addition, special attention must paid to Elmont Road, Plainfield Avenue and arteries that lead into the Jamaica Square section of Elmont as well as South Floral Park.

 

Sixth, developers should look towards beautification, revitalization and enhancement of current parks that surround the Belmont Park Development initiative.

 

Lastly, the development plan must keep within the breadth and scope it was originally designed. To that end, Empire State Development Corporation must continue to strive towards striking an appropriate balance between providing economic developments and disrupting the lives of the local communities.

 

I truly believe that the Belmont Park Development Initiative will enhance the community, existing horseracing industry, bring new jobs and create opportunities to Long Island when we ALL work together with respect, transparency and the communication that is needed to continue to build trust.

 

Visit Senator Phillips’ webpage

Hannon Passes Bill Holding Drug Dealers Accountable for Overdose Deaths

The New York State Senate took another step towards combating the ever-growing heroin and opioid epidemic by passing “Laree’s Law.” The bill (S2761), would allow law enforcement officials to charge a drug dealer with homicide if the sale of heroin or an opioid-controlled substance results in death.

 

“My Senate colleagues and I continue to build on our record of tackling the heroin and opioid epidemic head-on, but there is still more work to be done,” stated Senator Kemp Hannon, Senate Health Committee Chairman. “We need to continue efforts to curtail the alarming rise in the use of heroin and other opioids, and the devastating overdoses that result from this abuse. Diminishing the availability of these dangerous drugs on our streets is crucial and holding drug dealers accountable for their actions is a major step in the right direction. I commend Senator Amedore, Co-Chair of the Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, and his leadership on this important legislation.”

 

Laree’s Law sends a strong message to mid-and high-level dealers that they can no longer thrive on others’ maladies. The state’s “Good Samaritan Law” will continue to provide safeguards to those who attempt to help individuals suffering from a drug overdose.

 

This legislation in only part of the ongoing commitment to combat this public health crisis. The expansion of prevention, treatment, recovery and education will continue to be a priority of the New York State Senate.

 

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

 

Visit Senator Hannon’s webpage

Series of Bills Protecting New York’s Community Heroes Passes Senate

Measures Would Protect Police, Firefighters, Corrections Officers, and Other Emergency Responders by Increasing Penalties for Criminals Who Specifically Target these Professions

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate recently passed several measures to increase protections for the state’s law enforcement community, firefighters, and other emergency service workers, including the “Community Heroes Protection Act.” The measures are in direct response to the numerous incidents of violence directed at New York’s first responders, and would increase penalties for assaults or threats to police, increase safety at correctional facilities, and increase benefits for those who became sick from their heroic service during the World Trade Center recovery.

 

“Thousands of men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting our communities as law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency service workers have done so without asking for anything in return,” Senator Phillips said. “This legislation provides individuals protections from target attacks by making certain crimes committed against them punishable as hate crimes. We must continue to stand with these brave individuals who put their lives on the line each and every day.”

 

The Community Heroes Protection Act was inspired by those who have lost their lives, were wounded, or targeted specifically because of their profession as community protectors, such as last year’s fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia. The bill, S.1114A, would make certain crimes explicitly committed against law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders punishable as hate crimes.

 

In addition, the Senate passed a variety of bills aimed at safeguarding New York’s law enforcement community, including:

 

  • S1747: Helps protect retired police officers from retaliation by individuals who had been arrested by the officers when they were still on active duty. The bill makes the law consistent with the stronger criminal penalties currently in place to prevent the assault of active duty law enforcement by specifically including retired officers;
  • S1984: Straightens existing penalties by creating a new crime when a terrorist threat is made against a police officer. A person would be guilty of making a terroristic threat against a police officer when they threaten to commit or cause to be committed a specified offense against a police officer, while also demonstrating intent to intimidate or coerce the public or government actions through murder, assassination, or kidnapping, while also demonstrating.
  • S2125: Prohibits civilian drone use within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility. The civilian use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, has increased exponentially in recent years. Though many are used for innocuous reasons, in August 2015, a drone dropped a package containing tobacco, marijuana, and heroin into the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio. By restricting drone use in the immediate vicinity of a correctional facility, this bill would help promote a safer prison environment;
  • S5337: Expands the permitted use of TSA body image scanner devices in correctional facilities across the state as part of an effort to reduce a high level of inmate “slashing” violence through the use of smuggled blades. The use of the body scanners has been proven to reduce inmate slashing, but the state Commission of Correction suspended the use of the scanners in jails because the Public Health law limits use to medical purposes only – something this bill would amend;
  • S6898B: Expands line of duty sick leave to include every public officer or employee who, on the job, engaged in World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup activities. The expansion acknowledges that every public employee deserves benefits related to any qualifying World Trade Center illness or condition as a result of putting their lives on the line to help in any way they could following the tragic events of 9/11; and
  • S1302: Increases penalties for criminals who target law enforcement through vehicle vandalism. As a result of serving and protecting communities all across the state, law enforcement personnel are placed in dangerous situations on a daily basis. This bill would protect those who protect communities and serve as a deterrent to those who seek to commit such crimes.

 

The Senate Republican conference has been a consistent advocate for the law enforcement community throughout the state. In last year’s budget, and in response to the tragic assassinations of NYPD Officers Miosotis Familia, Wenjian Liu, and Rafael Ramos, the Senate secured $4 million to help retrofit NYPD patrol cars and command vehicles with bulletproof windows and door panels to help save the lives of law enforcement.

 

The Senate Republican conference has also spoken loudly and clearly in support of stronger penalties for hardened criminals. This includes a recent Senate petition drive that collected thousands of signatures calling on the state Parole Board to deny parole for cop-killer Herman Bell and last week’s call for the resignation of Parole Board members who granted the release despite Bell’s politically-motivated and premeditated assassinations of two New York City police officers.

 

The bills will be sent to the Assembly.

 

Visit Senator Elaine Phillips’ webpage

 

Montesano Proposes Changes to DWI Laws to Include Boaters

Assemblyman Michael Montesano announced his co-sponsorship of a bill (A.9867) which will amend the navigation, vehicle and traffic, criminal procedure and penal laws for a more comprehensive response to boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

 

“It shouldn’t matter if you are driving a car or a boat, driving any vehicle while intoxicated is dangerous and should be taken seriously,” said Montesano. “Two years ago, a boater who killed a young girl in a boating accident while under the influence was found not guilty because law enforcement officers did not have the right tools to test the individual on scene. So while that man gets to walk free without any repercussions, a family will never be whole again due to his actions.”

 

Currently, law enforcement officials lack the necessary resources to test boaters for drug use while on the water. This can make it difficult to efficiently bring to justice those who are boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

Visit Assemblyman Montesano’s webpage

 

Local Inwood Resident Inducted into the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame

Sasha Young

Assemblywoman Melissa Miller and Sasha Young, her nominee for the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame.

Assemblywoman Melissa Miller’s nominee for the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame, Sasha Young, an Inwood resident, was honored on Tuesday, March 13 by the Strong Nonprofits for Better New York.

 

In addition to being a full time mother of three, Sasha has worked as a special education teacher’s aide in the Lawrence school district for 6 ½ years and remains actively involved in the Lawrence PTA. She also works at the Five Towns Community Center, supervising afterschool education and recreation programs for children of all ages in the surrounding communities. Adding to her already-busy schedule and her existing Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Sasha is also working toward her Bachelor of Arts in Education.

 

“The dedication and motivation Sasha shows for her community and furthering her own studies is truly an inspiration,” said Miller. “To take on that amount of responsibilities and give it 110 percent to get everything impeccably done in a timely manner is something not many can do. Though she does so much to help her community, she has expressed that the community has given her a lot in return by expanding her mind. Our community is rich with a variety of religions, cultures and languages, which have shown her that although we may all have a multitude of similarities, our needs are not all the same and are just as diverse as the community we live in.”

 

The honoring of the nominees, which emphasizes the importance of the human service industry, was followed by a press conference at which the Strong Nonprofits for Better New York advocated for money to be invested in the budget to fund minimum wage for contracted nonprofits and for adjustments in salary for workers who weren’t included in the direct-care increase.

 

Visit Assemblywoman Miller’s webpage

Phillips Joins in Calling for Increased Transit Funding to Better Serve Millions of Riders

Transit is New York’s Infrastructure of Access and a Key Driver of Economic Development in Urban and Rural Areas

 

Senator Elaine Phillips joined with New York Public Transit Association officials, transit operators and fellow lawmakers to call for adequate and equitable funding for the state’s aging transit systems, including the Long Island Rail Road and NICE bus service.

 

“As a Long Islander, and Chairman of the Senate Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, I understand the importance of a safe and seamless transportation system and the importance of both MTA and non-MTA transit systems to our region.” Senator Phillips said. “Transit service is vital to the continued viability and economic growth of our region, and I will continue to advocate for a fair share for all transit systems and riders.”

 

Increased funding will allow the NICE bus service to expand north and south routes in coordination with LIRR schedules. In addition, aid will help LIRR infrastructure issues and safety concerns, allowing upgrades to signals, equipment maintenance facilities and technology.

 

In January, the LIRR experienced the worst on-time percentage in 22 years –with riders failing to reach their destinations on schedule 16 percent of the time.

 

“With ticket costs topping off at $300, $400 and $500 in some LIRR zones, commuters deserve a railroad they can rely on to get them to and from home, work, medical appointments, school or recreational activities,” Senator Phillips said.

 

Visit Senator Phillip’s webpage

 

Senate Passes 2018-19 Budget Resolution; Controls Spending, Protects Hardworking Taxpayers

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate passed a 2018-19 budget plan that promotes affordability, opportunity, and security for all New Yorkers. This fiscally responsible plan keeps state spending within the two-percent cap and serves as a blueprint for the creation of a better budget and a stronger, safer, and more prosperous New York.

 

“This budget is a comprehensive plan that will make Long Island more affordable for hardworking taxpayers, create jobs and opportunities and protect our quality of life,” Senator Elaine Phillips said. “The Senate’s plan rejects new taxes and fees, provides record funding to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, and delivers key investments in infrastructure, education and healthcare, while supporting overburdened families, seniors, veterans and businesses. The Senate’s budget also addresses critical funding for clean water and increases the state’s commitment to providing women with quality medical care.”

 

It includes none of the new taxes and fees proposed by the Executive, but instead cuts taxes to create jobs; reduces the state’s high cost of living; provides record levels of funding for education, the environment, and opioid abuse prevention; and addresses the serious public health and safety challenges facing the state’s communities.

 

“I am extremely proud to join my colleagues in the Senate to stand up for our families and students on Long Island by doubling the Governor’s school aid proposal with an additional $379 million in vital foundation aid. Our schools are the most critical investment we can make to ensure our students can have the best learning opportunities possible,” said Senator Phillips. “More investment in our children’s future is key but we must foster a safer learning environment for them to learn and grow. That is why this budget demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to keeping our children safe by improving school security measures that establish a school resources program, require schools to perform active shooter training and reimburses schools for participating in a new school safety program”

 

“As a member of the Senate’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, I have seen first-hand how the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities and families throughout Long Island and across the state. With this budget plan, we have included a record $265 million that not only ensures law enforcement, treatment providers and addiction specialists have the proper resources, but supports prevention, expands treatment, encourages recovery and enhances enforcement,” Senator Phillips said.

 

AFFORDABILITY

  • Maintaining Fiscal Discipline by protecting taxpayers and adhering to, and making permanent, a self-imposed two-percent spending cap for the eighth year in a row, which has saved taxpayers nearly $41 billion since the 2010-2011 budget.
  • Rejecting nearly $ 1 billion Tax and Fee Increases proposed by Governor Cuomo, including new taxes on internet purchases and new DMV fees.
  • Protection and Expansion of STAR Property Tax Relief by rejecting the Governor’s cap on STAR benefits and extending the property tax rebate check program. Additionally, new initiatives to help reduce the local tax burden on taxpayers would save small businesses $275 million by making small businesses eligible for the STAR property tax savings program; and freeze school property taxes at current levels for many seniors and completely eliminate their school property taxes over the next 10 years.
  • Protecting Taxpayers from Negative Impacts of Federal Tax Changes by decoupling the state and federal tax codes to prevent New Yorkers from taking a $1.5 billion state tax hit as a result of recent federal tax changes. It holds harmless New Yorkers who may have to pay more in state income taxes because of the changes at the federal level and prevents the state from benefitting from the sudden revenue increase at the expense of taxpayers.
  • $280 Million in New Energy Tax Relief to business and resident ratepayers by eliminating the two-percent Gross Receipts Tax on utility bills.
  • Savings on Retirement Income by increasing the private pension and retirement income exclusion from $20,000 to $40,000 for single taxpayers and to $80,000 for married taxpayers, over three years.

 

OPPORTUNITY

  • Improving Economic Development Programs by shutting down the under-performing START-UP program and redirects $44.5 million in advertising funding to support more effective economic development initiatives.
  • Providing Tax Relief for Businesses by Reducing the amount small businesses and farms must pay in taxes by raising the corporate tax threshold and lowering the rate, and also raising the personal income tax exemption and threshold for a combined tax savings of $495 million;
  • Cutting Red Tape to Encourage Business Growth with a comprehensive regulatory reform package to eliminate regulations that are unnecessary and duplicative, preventing businesses from succeeding and growing. The measures curtail the overuse of emergency regulations, improve the accuracy of regulatory “job impact” statements, and help foster more cooperation between regulators and businesses, among other reforms.
  • Promoting Workforce Development by continuing to improve employee readiness; better meet the workforce needs of private sector employers; connect job seekers with potential employers; retrain those who have lost jobs; and help make New York State’s overall economy more robust, dynamic and resilient. This budget plan rejects the Executive’s proposal to include workforce development as part of the Regional Economic Development Council competition and instead directs any additional resources be made available towards existing proven programs.
  • Increasing Education Funding to Help Children Succeed by including an approximately $1 billion – 3.8 percent – increase in school aid funding over last year, bringing the total investment in schools to a record level of $26.1 billion. Other highlights include:
    • Doubling the Governor’s Foundation Aid proposal with $379 million in additional funding, for a total increase of more than $717 million in 2017-18;
    • Providing flexibility for Community Schools funding;
    • Fully funding expense base aids at $240.4 million;
    • Creating an Education Investment Tax Credit that provides new tax incentives designed to encourage charitable giving to schools and improve the quality of education for students;
    • Continuing support for last year’s $5 million in funding for STEM initiatives in non-public schools, and creates a new formula with no cap to reimburse non-public schools’ STEM teacher salaries beginning in the 2019-20 school year;
    • Increasing nonpublic schools’ mandated services aid by $5.4 million as the Executive Budget proposed, and restoring $7 million in immunization funding. The Senate also continues $15 million in security grants for non-public schools and allows those schools to participate in programs funding the placement of school resource officers.
  • Preparing Students For Bright Futures Through Higher Education by restoring the Executive Budget’s $200 million cuts to SUNY capital and includes an additional $55 million each for SUNY’s and CUNY’s capital programs. The measure also advances a five-year capital plan for SUNY and CUNY to make new investments in the state’s higher education institutions. It increases base aid funding for community colleges by $100 per FTE to help prevent tuition hikes and to help working parents succeed in school, $2 million was restored for childcare centers at community colleges. To support New York’s Bravest, the Senate includes a measure allowing firefighters to take up to two CUNY free courses that pertain to their line of work. The proposal also restores a $35 million cut to Bundy Aid in the Executive Budget so that more private college and university students can access financial aid, and it expands the ability for private schools to participate in the STEM Scholarship program.
  • Increasing Support for Local Roads and Bridges by maintaining the Senate’s commitment to parity between the DOT and MTA capital plans, and ensures long-term regional balance in the funding of transportation projects.  Highlights include:
    • Provides an additional $27 million in State operating assistance for non-MTA downstate and upstate transit systems, for a total of $552 million, a 6 percent increase over last year;
    • Adds $65 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS), for a total of more than $503 million;

 

SECURITY

  • Providing Record Support for Heroin and Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment by increasing the state’s support for opioid use disorder-related services to a new record of $265 million – going beyond the 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal of $228 million.
  • In addition, the Senate includes measures to reduce exposure to opioids for children and adults; limit and provide alternatives to opioid use; better define controlled substances to include deadly drugs like fentanyl; screen expectant mothers to prevent and treat addiction in infants; encourage the successful recovery for those struggling with addiction; and provide law enforcement with new tools to help get drugs and big-time dealers off the streets.
  • Improving School Security with a comprehensive critical school safety package that would strengthen security and help keep students safe. This budget incorporates many of those initiatives:
    • Requires every public and private school to conduct at least two active shooter drills during the school year;
    • Reimburses schools for participating in a new School Safety Program at their option whereby teachers and school personnel are equipped with personal safety alarms that would, when triggered, connect to local police departments, fire stations, and medical assistance providers;
    •  Establishes a School Resource program available for any public, nonpublic, or charter school, or BOCES in order to provide improved public safety and or security on school grounds. Such officers would be allowed to possess firearms while performing their duties. Costs for having school resource officers would be aidable for BOCES and charter schools;
    • Develops a grant program for school resource officers whereby nonpublic schools would be reimbursed for the costs of the salaries for school resource officers;
    •  Allows School Safety Improvement Teams to review procedures for safety and make on-site inspections of school district, BOCES, nonpublic school, and charter school facilities.  Any improvements made by a school based on a recommendation from the school safety improvement team would be an aidable expense;
    • Allows schools to use and be reimbursed for a software program in conjunction with security and safety technology platforms;
    • Establishes state reporting requirements of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists and recommendations on how to improve the ratios of those professionals to students;
    • Creates a School Mental Health Program Services Coordinator to identify, report, and address issues of student mental health in public and nonpublic schools; and
    • Creates a comprehensive school security grant program for the total capital costs of quick capacity smart sensor threat detection and 360-degree security awareness.
  • Taking Additional Actions to Protect Children by reaffirming the Senate’s strong support for amendments to both the civil and criminal statutes of limitations to further protect children from dangerous sexual predators.
  • Increasing Counter-Terrorism Resources with improved counter-terrorism resources, the budget includes an additional $10 million in funding for the purchase of new technology. Local law enforcement agencies could purchase drones with offensive and defensive capabilities and advanced weapon detection systems, among other equipment to protect communities.

 

IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH AND NEW YORKERS’ QUALITY OF LIFE

  • Protecting the Environment and Critical Water Resources with support for the Environmental Protection Fund at a record $300 million. It also allocates up to $5 million of last year’s historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act for an Emerging Contaminant Contingency Fund to address public water systems that have confirmed one or more emerging contaminants at a potentially harmful level. In addition, the Senate directs funding from the EPF to support a new at SUNY Stony Brook laboratory testing facility or equipment for PFOA and other chemicals, and increases public access to the Governor’s planned initiative to combat harmful algal blooms.
  • Investing in Women’s Health by increasing the state’s commitment to providing women with access to quality medical care. It will restore $475,000 cut in the Executive Budget and include more than $4.5 million in new funding for a total of $5 million that will be used to support initiatives like breast cancer prevention, education, and support, and prenatal and postpartum services, among others.
  • Preventing Lyme Disease by restoring $400,000 in Executive Budget cuts and including an increase of $800,000 for a total of $1.2 million to support the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases recommendations.
  • Transforming Health Care Delivery Statewide by increasing the Health Care Facility Transformation Program funding from the Executive Budget’s $425 million to $500 million in order to boost a new third round of awards and help ensure long-term sustainability for facilities as they adjust to the changing dynamics of health care in New York. In addition, the Senate rejects the Executive’s Medicaid cuts to hospitals and nursing homes and increases the amount of funding available for new capital projects. It also provides an additional $157 million in support to SUNY hospitals to restore cuts in the Executive Budget and provide them with full Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments.
  • Supporting Veteransby restoring more than $6.125 million in Executive Budget cuts for veterans’ initiatives including:
    • More than $3 million for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer to Peer Services Program and adds nearly $450,000 in new funding for a total of $3.5 million;
    • $750,000 to support field service operations conducted by Congressionally Chartered Veterans’ Service Organizations;
    • $450,000 for the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative;
    • $250,000 for the New York State Defenders’ Association Veterans’ Defense Program;
    • $125,000 for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of New York;
    • $100,000 for SAGE Vets Program; and
    • $50,000 for Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Chapter.
  • Assisting Seniorsby restoring Executive Budget cuts and provides additional resources to allow seniors continued access to long-term services and supports, such as home care, transportation and meals, and initiatives to prevent elder abuse. The budget includes:
    • $20 million increase in the state Supplemental Security Income allowance for individuals living in enhanced residential facilities, raising reimbursement $4 per day for the first year, for a total increase of $20 per day over the next five years;
    • $3.6 million in addition to the $22.3 million in the Executive Budget for the New York Connects program, which provides free comprehensive services and supports for seniors and caregivers;
    • $500,000 restoration for the Community Services for the Elderly program, which provides essential in home services to the elderly, allowing seniors to maintain their autonomy and thrive at home in their communities;
    • $200,000 restoration for the continuation of elder abuse prevention and education initiatives, protecting older adults from abuse, maltreatment, and financial exploitation; and
    • Establishment of a statewide, toll-free telephone number (hotline) to receive reports of allegations of reportable incidents 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

 

Visit Senator Phillips’ webpage

Comprehensive Strengthening of New York’s Sexual Harassment Laws Passes in State Senate

Legislation Combats Sexual Harassment in the Public and Private Sectors to Create Safer Workplaces for All Employees

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced that the New York State Senate has passed the most comprehensive response yet to sexual harassment in New York. The bill (S7848A), sponsored by Senator Phillips, will prevent individuals from engaging in misconduct that creates a hostile work environment in either the public or private sectors, and encourage victims to come forward.

 

“There is no place in our government, or society as a whole, for sexual assault or harassment. It is inspiring to see the movement of women across our country coming forward, sharing their personal stories, and overcoming the stigma and shame brought on by the despicable actions of others,” Senator Phillips said. “This landmark legislation defines in statute sexual harassment for the first time in our state; bans secret settlements; prohibits mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints; protects independent contractors; and ends taxpayer-funded settlements. New Yorkers will now have the protections and safeguards they deserve. As a Senator, as a woman, as a mother, I urge the Assembly and the Governor to take up this legislation and enact these sweeping changes.”

 

The major reforms passed today include: establishing a statutory definition of sexual harassment; prohibiting the anonymity of the accused in court-approved settlements and banning mandatory sexual harassment arbitration clauses; prohibiting confidentiality agreements unless the victim requests confidentiality; expanding protections to independent contractors; creating uniform policies for all branches of state and local government; and protecting hardworking taxpayers from paying for public sector harassment settlements.

 

The bill mirrors much of what the Governor proposed and builds on it in key ways. It would:

 

• Adopt the definition of “Sexual Harassment” into state law: Although the state Division of Human Rights has a definition it uses administratively, there is currently no definition in statute of what constitutes sexual harassment. That leaves litigants subject to varying interpretations by judges, who may improperly dismiss sexual harassment cases at the outset. One study found that approximately 37 percent of cases are dismissed pretrial.

 

The bill creates a uniform definition of sexual harassment that is based on federal regulations: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of such conduct, explicitly or implicitly, affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment without regard to actual economic injury to or discharge of the individual.

  • Prohibit secret settlements unless the victim requests confidentiality: Courts would be prohibited from accepting any sexual harassment settlements that include confidentiality agreements or provisions. This would help ensure that those responsible are held accountable and prevent future harassment.
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints: Mandatory arbitration clauses are often used by employers to force sexual harassment victims into private arbitration proceedings, which precludes their ability to seek legal action.
  • Protect non-employees in the workplace: Currently, individuals who are not employees but are present in the workplace on a contract basis cannot file complaints against their harassers. The legislation would close this loophole by extending to contract workers the same right to file sexual harassment complaints to the state Division of Human Rights as individuals who are directly employed by the company or entity.
  • Create a uniform policy for all branches of state and local government: The state Department of Labor would be required to create a strong model management policy defining and prohibiting sexual harassment. Every county, city, town, village, school district, or other public entity would be required to develop a sexual harassment prevention policy that applies to all employees and which includes investigation procedures and a standard complaint form. Each complaint would be confidential and the policy must include the prevention of intimidation, retaliation, or coercion to help protect the complainant.

 

The measure also standardizes the process for state government. The legislature would be required to designate an independent attorney specializing in employment law to investigate complaints based on sexual harassment. A specialized unit within the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics would also be established to receive and investigate complaints. Managers and supervisors would be required to report as soon as they become aware of sexual harassment conduct.

  • Protect taxpayer funds from being used for individual sexual harassment settlements: When there is a finding or admission of sexual harassment by a state or local employee, this measure holds the harasser financially accountable for the settlement by enabling the public entity to recoup taxpayer money.

 

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

 

Visit Senator Schaefer’s webpage

Senate Proposes Largest Ever State Commitment to Prevent Heroin and Opioid Abuse

Senate Budget Proposal Includes $265 Million for Drug Prevention and Treatment, Addresses Fentanyl and Other Deadly Synthetics, Protects Children and Adults from Opioid Exposure, Strengthens Enforcement

 

Senator Elaine Phillips announced the New York State Senate Majority has unveiled details of their extensive response to the challenges facing communities in the fight against opioids and heroin. As part of the Senate’s 2018-19 Budget proposal to be taken up tomorrow, the conference commits to providing a record level of state funding to combat opioid abuse and will propose far-reaching health and safety initiatives to reduce the harmful effects of drug abuse on everyone from infants to adults.

 

“The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities throughout New York, and especially here on Long Island, which is why the Senate Majority has proposed $265 million in record funding,” Senator Phillips said. “This package not only ensures law enforcement, treatment providers and addiction specialists have the proper resources, but supports prevention, expands treatment, encourages recovery and enhances enforcement.”

 

The Senate proposal increases the state’s support for opioid use disorder-related services to a new record of $265 million – going beyond the 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal of $228 million.

 

In addition, the Senate will propose measures to reduce exposure to opioids for children and adults; limit and provide alternatives to opioid use; better define controlled substances to include deadly drugs like fentanyl; screen expectant mothers to prevent and treat addiction in infants; encourage the successful recovery for those struggling with addiction; and provide law enforcement with new tools to help get drugs and dealers off the streets. They include:

 

Supporting Prevention

  • Enact the Drug Take Back Act to get unused and unneeded medications out of medicine cabinets.
  • Ensure labels on opioid prescriptions warn of the highly addictive potential of controlled substance medications.
  • Reform prescribing practices to:
    • Limit initial prescriptions from a seven-day to a three-day supply;
    • Require patients prescribed opioids for thirty-days or longer to have a pain management plan with their prescriber;
    • Require written consent from parents or guardians for the prescription of opioids to minors;
    • Require the Department of Health to develop guidance on the administration of opioid antagonists; and
    • Establish a demonstration program to reduce opioid prescribing by utilizing emergency department physician collaboration to control pain through alternative means, including non-opioid medications.

 

Expanding Treatment

  • Authorize the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS) to provide funding to substance use disorder programs operated by for-profit agencies.
  • Establish a jail-based substance use disorder treatment program.
  • Require testing of newborns for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
  • Establish a program on screening expectant mothers for opioid addiction and linking them with care.
  • Establish a workgroup and provide education for healthcare providers on screening and caring for mothers with an opioid addiction.
  • Prohibit prior authorization for outpatient substance abuse treatment.
  • Establish an OASAS ombudsman to assist consumers and providers with insurance issues, including network adequacy.
  • Require hospitals and Emergency Room physicians to notify a patient’s prescriber that the patient has been treated for a controlled substance overdose.

 

Encouraging Recovery

  • Establish a voluntary certification process for sober homes.
  • Codify the Peer Engagement Program, connecting individuals with substance use disorders to treatment and recovery services.
  • Establish an infant recovery pilot program with at least four infant recovery centers in areas of need for infants suffering from drug withdrawal resulting from in utero exposure.
  • Establish the Family Support and Recovery Services Program to provide recovery services and support to individuals exiting treatment and their families for up to 12 months after leaving a treatment program.

 

Enhancing Enforcement

  • Criminalize the sale of a controlled substance on the grounds of a drug or alcohol treatment center, or within 1,000 feet of such facilities.
  • Make it a crime to offer or accept any kickback from an individual or entity that provides substance abuse services in exchange for patient referral and admission.
  • Establishes appropriate level penalties as it relates to heroin sales.
  • Makes the sale of 2 milligrams or more of Carfentanil a Class A-II felony and the sale of 10 milligrams or more of Carfentanil a Class A-I felony.
  • Update controlled substances penalties to reflect emerging issues.

 

Addressing Fentanyl and other Synthetic Drugs

  • Update the controlled substances schedule to promote consistency with the federal controlled substances schedules.
  • Add new derivatives of fentanyl to the controlled substances schedule.
  • Increase the criminal penalties for the sale of an opiate containing a fentanyl derivative.

 

Senator Phillips, a member of the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, hosted a panel discussion in Mineola in July to discuss the ongoing epidemic of heroin abuse on Long Island and throughout the state. Several members of law enforcement, healthcare professionals, victims and treatment providers participated in the panel and discussed ways to prevent young people from falling prey to the devastating effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. The panel agreed that education is crucial in the war against addiction.

 

The Senate will take action on these measures on Wednesday, March 14, and continue to make addressing heroin and opioid abuse a priority during ongoing budget negotiations.

 

Visit Senator Phillips’ webpage