January 2005

Dear Friend:

"Excelsior," Latin for "ever upward," was adopted as New York State’s motto in 1778. In that same spirit, the Assembly Minority Conference now offers its legislative agenda for the coming year, designed to make the Empire State grow and excel. Excelsior 2005 is a comprehensive set of proposals that create opportunities for work and prosperity, reform state government, provide a good education for all, make our communities safe and increase the overall quality of life of all New Yorkers.

This latest installment of our vision for the Empire State builds upon both 2003’s NY First and last year’s Roadmap to Renewal. It redefines and underscores the Assembly Republican philosophy that state government should be efficient and inclusive, rather than wasteful and intrusive.

The first step toward implementing that philosophy is to change the way business is done in the Capitol. We are proposing reforms that would restore the Assembly’s reputation as "the People’s House," and guarantee an on-time budget for the first time in a generation. We’ve also included proposals to create good paying jobs, protect our citizens and build a better life for New Yorkers.

Each initiative contained herein is based on ideas and suggestions advanced by members of our conference and other leading citizens of the state. They have been put forth with one common goal: to fulfill the vision of our forefathers by taking New York "ever upward." We will work tirelessly toward their enactment.


Assembly Minority Leader

Members of the New York State Assembly Minority Conference

AD 1 Patricia L. Acampora AD 110 James N. Tedisco
AD 2 Fred W. Thiele, Jr. AD 112 Roy McDonald
AD 7 Michael Fitzpatrick AD 113 Teresa Sayward
AD 8 Thomas F. Barraga AD 114 Chris Ortloff
AD 9 Andrew Raia AD 115 David R. Townsend, Jr.
AD 10 James Conte AD 117 Marc W. Butler
AD 12 Joseph S. Saladino AD 121 Jeff Brown
AD 14 Robert D. Barra AD 122 Dede Scozzafava
AD 15 Donna Ferrara AD 123 Gary D. Finch
AD 17 Maureen O’Connell AD 124 Will Barclay
AD 19 David G. McDonough AD 127 Daniel Hooker
AD 21 Thomas Alfano AD 128 Robert C. Oaks
AD 60 Matthew Mirones AD 129 Brian M. Kolb
AD 62 Vincent M. Ignizio AD 130 Joseph A. Errigo
AD 93 Louis A. Mosiello AD 134 Bill Reilich
AD 96 Nancy Calhoun AD 136 Jim Bacalles
AD 97 Annie Rabbitt AD 137 Thomas O’Mara
AD 99 Willis H. Stephens, Jr. AD 139 Leader Charles H. Nesbitt
AD 100 Tom Kirwan AD 142 Sandra Lee Wirth
AD 102 Joel M. Miller AD 146 Jack Quinn
AD 103 Pat Manning AD 147 Daniel J. Burling
AD 107 Cliff Crouch AD 148 Jim Hayes
AD 108 Pat M. Casale AD 149 Catharine M. Young

What they’re saying about the Assembly Minority Excelsior 2005 plan...

Business Council of New York President Daniel B. Walsh:

"These are important ideas that can improve the security of our economy, and how all state legislators act on ideas like these will be reflected in our 2005 legislative report card."

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) New York State Director Mark Alesse:

"Excelsior 2005 illustrates the depth and breadth of the problems facing New York and proposes solutions. Recognizing that the most important thing to every New Yorker is a job, this plan includes a whole section on lowering the costs of running a small business so they can create jobs."

Manufacturers Association of Central New York President Randy Wolken:

"The Assembly Minority Conference acknowledges the important place that manufacturing plays in New York State’s economic future. The Conference has placed real workers compensation reform, tax relief for manufacturers, and energy cost reduction at the top of their agenda. We need these reforms to improve the business climate for manufacturers and all businesses."

New York Farm Bureau President John Lincoln:

"New York Farm Bureau is extremely pleased with the Assembly Minority focus on agriculture and the Upstate economy. The Assembly Minority Task Force on Agriculture met with farmers throughout the state in the last year, and the Excelsior 2005 Agenda clearly reflects the Task Force’s recognition of the need to keep farmers and small businesses in New York competitive."

Less Intrusive, More Efficient Government = Reform

For several years, Assembly Minority members from every corner of New York have called for reform in state government. Gradually, but inexorably, that sentiment has gained public support. Now, at long last, the calls have begun to echo through the corridors of the Capitol. This past year even saw the welcome addition of several new voices to the chorus. As a result, we are optimistic that 2005 could finally bring real changes to the way business is done in Albany - including much-needed budget reform.

Late budgets are only the most obvious of many factors that have conspired to erode the public’s trust and confidence in state government. It is only through a concerted bipartisan effort at real reform that those virtues can be restored. In that spirit, we now put forth a series of reforms aimed at establishing fairness in a less intrusive, more efficient government. In addition to the budget process, our proposals encompass such areas as tax relief, New York’s enormous debt, public authorities, redistricting, mandates, and government ethics, among others. Assembly Minority members call for the immediate passage of these reforms, and will support any reasonable additional proposals to open up the legislative process.

Legislative Reform
The purpose of a state government is to serve the best interests of its people. For too long, that simple principle has not applied in Albany. The first order of business for Assembly Minority members of the 2005 legislative session will be to demand changes to the Assembly Rules that will bring about a more open, responsive, and efficient state government. The increased flow of ideas and legislation resulting from reform will make it easier to live, work and do business in New York. Assembly Minority members believe that we need to change the way we do business in Albany before we can properly conduct the rest of the state’s business and propose a comprehensive list of legislative reforms:

Key Provisions of the Assembly Minority Rules Reform package include:

  • Open the Majority’s closed Motion to Discharge procedure, to allow for consideration of bills by the entire body despite inaction on the committee level;

  • Require that committee membership ratios reflect the ratio of Majority to Minority membership in the House;

  • Allow the Ranking Minority Member on each committee to call a public hearing of the committee;

  • Require that when a motion to hold a bill fails in committee, there shall immediately be a motion to report that bill;

  • Create a Member’s Prerogative, which would allow each Member of the Assembly to bring at least one bill of statewide implication to the floor for a vote during each legislative term;

  • Require that the Rules Committee provide an agenda, and convene regularly scheduled meetings, as the other committees currently do;

  • Require that bills with Home Rule requests from local municipalities be considered in committee at the first meeting that is held after the bill has been in committee for three days;

  • Require a super-majority (2/3) vote for final passage of any bill that imposes, continues or revives a new tax;

  • Require that any bill on the calendar that imposes a mandate on localities or school districts, as well as any bill that would require additional taxes, be specifically labeled or identified as such on the calendar; and

  • Enact various provisions to ensure timely passage of the state budget.

Budget Reform
No single area of New York State government is in more need of reform than the budget process. Two consecutive decades of late state budgets, three-men-in-a-room secret deliberations and gridlock have greatly eroded public confidence in the Legislature’s ability to manage the finances of the state.

Assembly Minority members have long been a leading voice in the fight for budget reform, proposing a series of sensible reforms that would ensure a budget that is on-time, every-time. In recent months, Governor Pataki, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader have made strides to come to an agreement on budget reform. Assembly Minority members remain hopeful that a number of the following proposals will be included in a final agreement.

The Assembly Minority budget reform plan would enact statutory and Constitutional legislation that would establish consequences for missing the less-publicized stepping stone deadlines that lead up to the April 1st deadline and other reforms, including:

  • State Comptroller allowed to intervene with a binding revenue forecast, if the Legislature is unable to achieve a consensus on revenue by March 10;

  • Budget Conference Committees have to be established by March 15th;

  • Increase the amount that can be deposited into the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund and the maximum balance in the same reserve fund;

  • Require a plain language summary of the budget agreement, made available at least 48 hours prior to budget passage;

  • Default budget to be in place no later than 72 hours after the start of the new fiscal year;

  • Prohibit the Legislature from considering non-budget legislation after April 1st until budget is adopted, and

  • Prohibit legislative recess until a late budget is approved, with the exception of religious holidays.

Debt Reform
New York’s state debt is one of the highest in the nation. Debt raises the cost of government operations and devours resources for other important programs and job-creating tax cuts. Assembly Minority members propose to lower the state debt with the following initiatives:

  • Prohibit "Backdoor Borrowing" and authorize State Revenue Debt;
  • Cap Revenue Debt at up to 35 percent of the State’s capital expenses;
  • Establish a Loan Fund to reduce the amount of Revenue Debt issued, which would be funded by an annual deposit to the Loan Fund equal to one percent of outstanding non-voter approved debt

Public Authority Reform
Public authorities were formed to oversee public services including maintenance of the state Thruway, bridges and tunnels, mass transit systems and public university construction. The authorities manage their own payrolls and award their own contracts, beyond the direct control of elected officials. Although most board members are appointed by the Governor, some are chosen by the Legislature and state Comptroller. Assembly Minority members support the Governor’s extensive reform efforts in addition to the following measures to make the state’s public authorities operate more efficiently:

  • Provide board members with the appropriate training;
  • Establish governance and audit committees for each authority;
  • Require authorities to file an annual operational and financial report;
  • Establish a broader definition of what an authority is;
  • Strengthen existing requirements on procurement guidelines and require more disclosure by lobbyists, and
  • Conduct random audits of certain authorities throughout New York State each year.

Tax Relief
Since 1995, New York has made great strides towards reducing the high tax burden under which its citizens struggle. One of the responsibilities of state government is to protect hard-working New Yorkers from unnecessary tax increases. As such, the Assembly Minority Conference maintains that any decision to increase levies on New Yorkers must be openly debated and affirmed before the public, and supports:

  • Tax relief for New York state businesses by reducing the Corporate Franchise Tax and Bank Franchise tax rates. In addition, a tax credit of $1,000 would be provided for each new job created. Small businesses would receive tax incentives equal to 10 percent of the cost of providing their employees with health insurance;
  • Tax relief for New York state manufacturers by providing an exemption equal to 30 percent of income derived from manufacturing. Manufacturing businesses would receive a tax credit for newly created manufacturing jobs and be allowed to allocate income based on sales. Additionally, every county would have the opportunity for an Empire Zone and a new Zone program for Research and Development would be created;
  • Tax incentives to encourage new electricity generation with tax credits for electricity generated through new renewable energy facilities.

Redistricting Reform
Assembly Minority members propose to lay a foundation for fair redistricting in the future by:

  • Eliminating the arbitrary redistricting rules that restrict the creation of reasonably compact and neighboring districts;
  • Creating a more representative and independent redistricting commission;
  • Establishing redistricting principles ranked by importance, and
  • Requiring political and demographic data to be made available to the public at the same time it is to the Legislature.

Medicaid Reform and Mandate Relief
New York’s counties are struggling under the burden of skyrocketing Medicaid costs, which have risen over 50 percent in the past few years. Municipalities and county governments across the state have been forced to pass these higher costs on to local taxpayers in the form of higher tax levies or reduced services. Assembly Minority members have been leading the charge for Medicaid reform for the past several years and propose the following:

  • Implementing the Assembly Minority Medicaid Restructuring Plan - a phased in, five-year state takeover of local Medicaid costs which will take the burden of Medicaid expenses off of local property taxpayers forever;
  • Providing Medicaid emergency relief for localities;
  • Supporting Medicaid fraud reporting incentives;
  • Prohibiting new unfunded mandates;
  • Requiring mandate cost information be clearly printed on all legislation;
  • Establishing state mandate reimbursement procedures;
  • Reforming Wicks Law; and
  • Favoring municipal liability reform.

Encouraging Civic Participation
Lack of civic participation is a growing concern among many community organizations. A national poll conducted in 2003 shows that young people have difficulty engaging or understanding the political process. Assembly Minority members recognize the importance of getting tomorrow’s leaders involved in the democratic process and support:

· Creation of a program that would allow young people under the age of 18 (but over 16) to be trained as Election Day poll workers.

Assembly Minority members also believe that an accurate voter registration list is vital to maintaining the integrity of the election process and discourages vote fraud, and it is required by The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). That’s why the Conference proposes:

· Establishment of a centralized, state-wide voter registration system that would maintain an on-line, real-time registered voter list.

Ethics and Government Credibility
Assembly Minority members have been a leading voice in urging stronger ethics reform for the Legislature that will open up the activities of the Legislative Ethics Committees and make changes to New York’s Lobbying Law. The Conference will make those issues a high priority for the 2005 legislative session by proposing to:

  • Reform the Lobbying Law so that it complies with the due process requirement and institute reforms for procurement lobbying;
  • Prohibit the re-election of members of the Legislature if they are convicted of a Class A penal law misdemeanor or a lesser misdemeanor related to their duties as a public officer;
  • Require ethics committee reports to be made to the full legislative body and to the public within 24 hours of a decision.

Inter-Municipal Cooperation
Assembly Minority members advocate creative incentives and other support to encourage inter-municipal cooperation. Local government can benefit by both contributing and sharing existing services and creating a sense of community and equality between stakeholders. The Minority Conference supports:

  • Metro-STAR program - would provide matching grants to localities to study mergers and cost-sharing agreements with neighboring municipalities, establish model cooperative programs and cover certain secondary costs with the goal of saving taxpayers’ money;
  • Creation of an Inter-Municipal Cooperation Task Force --to gather information on the consolidation and cooperation of local governments in order to determine ways the state can help local governments better utilize municipal resources, promote efficiency and reduce government waste.

Providing Opportunities for Work and Prosperity

With our state’s abundant natural resources, world class educational facilities and dedicated workforce, New York has all the tools necessary for businesses to thrive. Despite all these positive characteristics, however, the Assembly Minority Manufacturing Task Force and the Task Force on the State of New York Agriculture found that many of our state’s businesses are suffering under burdensome taxes, regulations and energy costs. The business-friendly initiatives in Excelsior 2005 will work towards creating a New York that can live up to its nickname as the "Empire State" by strengthening the bedrock of our economy - manufacturing, small business, tourism and agriculture.

Manufacturing - Key to the State’s Economy
Manufacturing plays a key role in the economy of our state and is critical to the future of communities both small and large. In 2004, the Assembly Minority Manufacturing Task Force traveled throughout New York’s manufacturing corridors to gain insight into the special challenges facing the industry. The following proposals are crucial to continued development of the manufacturing industry in New York State.

Quarterly Manufacturing Roundtables - Based on feedback from participants in the 2004 Manufacturing Task Force meetings, Assembly Minority members propose hosting such forums on a quarterly basis in several regions of the state. The forums would focus on how state policies affect manufacturers and what legislators can do to provide a better business environment, as well as prepare New York State for future manufacturing jobs in both current and new high-technology applications. These regional meetings would provide an environment for manufacturing executives to share ideas, concerns and solutions with their state legislators.

Community College Workforce Development Expansion - Provide funding for new equipment for Community Colleges so that students can be trained in the latest technology. New York’s Community Colleges already have well-established training programs, but there is currently no assistance for the purchase of new manufacturing equipment.

Increase Utilization of Workforce Investment Board/Workforce Training Funds - Call upon Congress to allow Workforce Investment Boards to provide training funds to New York Community Colleges on behalf of participating manufacturers in exchange for processing paperwork and administrating programs. With the assistance of local Community Colleges, more manufacturers can take advantage of these valuable training funds to improve their businesses.

Manufacturer’s State Tax Credit - Create a tax credit for manufacturers equal to 2.5 percent of a new employee’s salary for each new job created. The credit would last for the first five years of employment.

Manufacturing Incentive Pilot Program - This program would couple tax incentives with new levels of accountability for companies which prove that jobs created are long-term positions.

Implement Single Sales Factor - New York businesses are taxed based on three factors: sales, payroll and real property owned within the state. Simplifying the tax code to focus solely on sales would encourage companies to locate and remain in New York State.

Support for Small Businesses
New York’s economy depends in large part on the health of its small businesses. Nearly 98 percent of all businesses in New York are small businesses, and nearly 52 percent of working New Yorkers are employed by small businesses. The high cost of doing business in New York is often identified as one of the main reasons small businesses fail. The Assembly Minority Small Business Improvement Act of 2005 will provide much-needed assistance to help small businesses to prosper in New York:

Establish the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform in statute -- Establish, by statute, this useful resource for fostering accessible and responsive government and reducing bureaucratic-"red tape."

Increase Main Street Revitalization (EZ Main Street) - Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community's "main street" or downtown. This program will provide grants to upgrade and renovate downtown and main street façades, encouraging a rebirth of these important economic centers.

Restore the One Percent Lower Tax Rate for Small Businesses - Prior to 1999 the corporate tax was one percent lower for corporations that had an earned net income (ENI) of less than $290,000. The 1998-99 enacted budget set the corporate tax rate on a sliding scale, thereby removing the full one percent reduction. This proposal would lower the corporate tax by one percent for corporations with an ENI of less than $290,000.

Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit - Provide business income tax credits equal to 10 percent of health insurance premiums to small business owners who provide health insurance to their employees.

Small Business Training Tax Credit - Provide a tax credit equal to the amount expended by businesses that provide job training to upgrade, retain or improve the productivity or skill level of their employees.

Small Business Energy Tax Reduction - Currently, counties in New York State have the ability to lower or eliminate the tax on energy sources imposed on residences. This measure enables counties to offer the same benefits to local businesses, by lowering or eliminating the tax on energy sources.

Small Businesses and NYS Contracts - Enact a prompt payment law for state contracts with small businesses and require that at least 15% of state contracts are with businesses employing 100 or fewer employees.

NYS Rules Tracker - Direct the Department of State (DOS) to establish an Internet listserve on which any individual can sign-up on-line to receive an electronic notice of any new, revised or emergency rule or regulation proposed in New York.

State Register Internet Links - Direct state agencies to provide a link to the on-line State Register from their agency Internet home page, providing an easy way for companies to access the regulations that affect their business.

Provide Information on Potential Rule Changes to Legislative Minorities - Because current law does not require state agencies to send proposed rule or regulation changes to the legislative Minorities, members cannot effectively represent the businesses and individuals in their districts who may be affected by such changes. Requiring agencies to also send proposed rule changes to Assembly and Senate Minorities would ensure that everyone in the Legislature is informed.

Increase Empire State Development Corporation’s Flexibility For Small Businesses - Require that the Empire State Development Corporation conduct a study and provide recommendations on how the current law could be amended to make ESD programs more accessible to small businesses by requiring different standards for businesses employing 100 or fewer employees.

Workers’ Compensation Reform
The presence of high quality jobs can make or break many communities. For many businesses, the major roadblock to expansion and additional hiring are onerous taxes and burdensome regulations that are an unfortunate part of doing business in New York. Meaningful reform would reduce rates, and the following proposals identify reforms that could help lower costs to employers. By lowering the tax burden and reforming Workers’ Compensation, New York can send a signal to employers that we are "open for business." Assembly Minority members propose the following initiatives to achieve that goal:

Increase Penalties For Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud - Currently, Workers’ Compensation fraud is a Class E Felony. New measures will crack down on fraud by incorporating a range of felony levels depending upon the severity of the crime.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy Rebates - Ensure that employers who maintain safe work environments receive rebates on their Workers’ Compensation insurance policy.

Increase Benefits For Disabled Workers - Workers who are injured at the workplace currently receive benefits equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to a maximum benefit of $400 per week. Under this proposal, benefits would increase annually over the next four years in $50 increments to a maximum benefit level of $600 per week. Funding for this increase will be made possible through savings achieved by adopting other Assembly Minority Workers’ Compensation reforms.

Reduce Employer Assessments For The Second Injury Fund - This measure would adjust the calculation used to determine the annual assessments from 150% of the previous year’s disbursements to 125%.

Establish Bipartisan Benefits Commission - Establish a commission to study the sufficiency of benefits levels and the overall costs to employers, commencing one year following last increase.

Increase Threshold for Requiring Prior Authorization For Specialist Consultations and Special Diagnostic Laboratory Tests - Increase from $500 to $1,000 the cap over which Workers’ Compensation claimant’s doctors or medical providers must obtain prior authorization from the claimant’s employer or the Board for specialist consultations, surgery, therapy, x-ray examinations or special diagnostic laboratory tests. Authorize the Board to prescribe regulations to preauthorize certain types of tests costing more than $1000 for certain types of injuries.

Workers’ Compensation and Prescription Drugs - Authorize nominal co-payments for prescription drugs for those individuals receiving Workers’ Compensation.

Adopt a Pharmaceutical Fee Schedule for Workers’ Compensation’- Establish maximum allowable fees for prescription drugs provided to Workers’ Compensation claimants. Such schedules would be determined by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Pharmacists would be able to charge a reasonable dispensing fee.

Adopt Objective Medical Guidelines to Evaluate Impairment in Workers’ Compensation Claims - Reduce costs to employers through adoption of objective medical guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment and limit benefits received for permanent partial disabilities to a maximum of 500 weeks.

From florescent lighting to high tech machinery, all New York State businesses rely on power to produce and sell their products. These Assembly Minority proposals would improve New York’s capacity to provide energy and reduce costs for the businesses that need low-cost power the most.

Promote Free Energy Markets - Support creation of energy cooperatives organized by regional Chambers of Commerce or other groups to purchase bulk supplies of lower-priced energy for their members. Such cooperatives save members thousands of dollars each year in energy costs.

Power to Grow - New York faces an energy crisis resulting from increasing electricity consumption and a lack of new power plants. This legislation would renew Article X, which expired at the end of 2002.

Improving Electricity Transmission - Improve electric transmission lines and authorize the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to form a subsidiary corporation for the purpose of financing electric transmission and generation facilities.

Brownfields Incentives for Power Plant Siting - New York can build on its recent reauthorization of the state Superfund for contaminated former industrial sites and speed the reuse of these properties by encouraging construction of new power plant facilities on abandoned brownfields located in industrial areas throughout the state.

Empire Zones
Empire Zones (EZ), with their business-friendly combination of tax reductions, energy savings and other incentives, have been helping companies and revitalizing economies across New York. These economic development ideas work to improve the Empire Zone program, positioning the program as an even more effective tool for companies looking to expand and create jobs and communities looking for quality employers. It is generally accepted that certain modifications should be made to the program in the future. Assembly Minority members believe that the following proposals should be included in those reforms:

An Empire Zone For Every County - Expand EZ benefits to every county in the state. Currently, 11 New York counties do not have an EZ designation - Delaware, Greene, Hamilton, Livingston, Yates, Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Schoharie, Tompkins and Wyoming - resulting in those localities not being able to compete for jobs and new investment on an equal footing with surrounding communities.

EZ Statewide-"Superzone"- In addition to county-based zones, there is a clear need for a "Superzone" that provides the state with the flexibility of offering EZ incentives to job-creating companies that wish to build in New York, wherever they wish to locate. The EZ "Superzone" would give the state the ability to offer similar incentives to other companies without having to reduce the benefits available in an already designated zone.

Agriculture - New York’s Number One Industry The Assembly Minority Task Force on the State of New York Agriculture will begin its third year of soliciting ideas from farmers at task force forums and farm tours throughout the state, hearing about ways to improve the vitality of the agriculture industry. The Task Force has developed proposals to encourage growth in the industry, protect the rights of farmers, and assist farmers with the preservation of open space.

Continue the work of the Assembly Republican Task Force on the State of New York Agriculture --During 2005, the Task Force will focus on agri-tourism issues by hosting a series of statewide forums attended by farmers, Chambers of Commerce members, tourism boards and other interested parties, focusing on ways to foster economic growth and increase agri-tourism in New York. The Task Force will also continue to host farm tours and public forums on the health of the agriculture industry as a whole in areas not yet visited.

The New York Farmer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2005 -- New York’s farm community is aging, with fewer members of the younger generation taking over family farms. Assembly Minority members propose an agricultural scholarship program for students who agree to become full-time farm producers in New York State and a loan forgiveness program for farm operators who agree to farm in New York on a full-time basis.

Value-Added Production and Marketing Grant Program -- Family farms are the backbone of New York’s agriculture industry, yet the state is losing these small farms at an alarming rate. The future of agriculture is in value-added products and Assembly Minority members support establishing a matching grant program and revolving loan fund that would allow family farms to expand their facilities for on-site production of value-added products, such as specialty cheeses, juices and jams, and other products. The program would also create new regional processing hubs and provide funding for regional direct marketing liaisons to connect producers with existing processors and distributors.

"Day of Rest" Legislation - Allows every person employed on a farm to accrue one and one-half hours credit for each hour of work exceeding eight hours a day. This measure would be mandatory for farmers to implement, but voluntary for workers to accept.

Tourism Initiatives
New York State boasts such diverse locations as Niagara Falls, one of the Wonders of the Natural World, and New York City, a vibrant metropolis of eight million people. Though these landmarks are widely known and visited, tourism also plays a vital role in many other large and small communities across New York. Assembly Minority members support programs to create and promote additional tourism opportunities so that more visitors can enjoy all that New York has to offer and that even New Yorkers, themselves, have a chance to be tourists in their own backyard.

The Discover Series: New York State has an infinite number of natural resources, a proud history and numerous tourism opportunities that warrant further exploration. Assembly Minority members recommend the creation of a series of Discover New York programs designed to introduce visitors and New Yorkers to the state’s many wonders:

Discover New York’s History -- Market New York’s role in the building of our nation, and promote our patriotic heroes and historic places of interest;

Discover New York’s Bicycling -- Promote touring New York via bicycle and provide technical assistance and incentives to towns and counties to make roads and highways "bicycle friendly;"

Discover the "Fish New York" Tourism Program -- Develop a book listing the many varieties of fish that can be caught in New York and the locations where they can be found; Discover New York Through Agri-Tourism -- Provide matching grants to build infrastructure for agri-tourism endeavors, such as bed and breakfasts, horse trails, petting zoos and other agriculture-related activities and provide funds to promote agri-tourism events and attractions;

Discover New York Tourism Website - Feature information about the four "Discover New York" programs (History, Bicycling, Fish New York, and Agri-Tourism) on the Internet for 24-hour access.

Liability and Insurance Reform for farmers, forest owners and land trusts --Remove the disincentives for landowners to open their land to free and fee-based recreational activities, such as hunting, fishing and U-pick agriculture operations, etc., due to liability costs and concerns.

Private ATV Trail Development --Increase the number of ATV trails by changing the direction of trail construction and development from public to private trail systems.

Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) for Critical Fishing Watershed --Increase the matching funds for AEM programs from 75 percent to 80-90 percent for farms located in watersheds determined to be critical to the fishing industry.

Hunting and Fishing
Traditional outdoor sports, such as hunting and fishing, are deeply rooted in New York State and these activities have a significant impact on the state’s economy. Recreational anglers and hunters number 1.8 million in New York and annually spend more than $2.1 billion in pursuit of their past times. Assembly Minority members would enhance New York’s reputation as a sportsman’s paradise by creating:

Hunting and Fishing Task Force - The Task Force would solicit ideas and input from anglers and hunters at statewide public forums, then develop legislation and recommendations to strengthen and expand this industry.

Ensuring a Quality Education for Our Children

Assembly Minority members stand firm in their commitment to ensure that all children receive a quality education in a safe learning environment in New York. While our state continues to have one of the best school systems in the country, there is always room for improvement.

Assembly Minority members support a number of reform measures enumerated below that will help to provide the necessary operating funds while also increasing oversight, alleviating burdensome mandates on school districts and providing additional resources for both students and teachers.

Restoration Aid to School Districts - Comprehensive Operating Aid (COA) is vital to school districts because it helps them fund expenses related to the general operation and maintenance of schools. All of New York’s school districts suffered cuts in COA in the 2003-04 state budget (ranging between 2.25 and 6.3 percent). Although the 2004-05 budget increased COA by 1.75 percent, no school district in the state saw their level rise to 2002-03 funding levels. The result is that most districts are attempting to function today on less operating aid than they received three years ago.

Had the 2003-04 state budget applied a "save-harmless" provision to COA, all districts would have, at least, been granted level funding. Statewide, the two-year deficit for all districts is slightly more than $446.45 million.

Assembly Minority members believe that before a new school aid formula is devised, either in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision or in fulfillment of the annual budget, these deficits must be restored. To achieve this, the Conference proposes including "Restoration Aid" in the 2005-06 budget consisting of:

  • One-time retroactive restorations that amount to each school district’s 2003-04 Comprehensive Operating Aid cut (retroactively invoke a save-harmless provision for that fiscal year). This would result in $285.3 million in one-time payments to districts,

  • One-time retroactive restorations for 2004-05 remaining COA deficit (retroactively invoke a second-year of save-harmless for 2004-05). This would result in $161.1 million in one-time payments to districts, and

  • At a minimum, commit to a save-harmless provision for Comprehensive Operating Aid for the 2005-06 school year based on the 2002-03 level. This would require $161.1 million in new funding.

Fiscal Oversight of Schools --Property taxpayers throughout New York State have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, including by their local school districts. Assembly Minority members propose increasing transparency in fiscal oversight of schools by creating a new Office of Financial Oversight and Accountability within the State Comptrollers office, charged with conducting audits of school districts statewide. Under the proposal, all school districts would also be required to post budgets, expenditure reports, compensation packages, union contracts and board minutes on-line within seven days of voter approval.

Maintenance of Effort in the Big Five City School Districts - In recent years, the state has substantially increased funding to high need urban school districts, however, financial support from many city governments has not kept pace. The state already imposes a Maintenance of Effort provision on New York City, allowing the city to reduce its portion of school expenditures only in proportion to any reductions in the city’s entire budget. Assembly Minority members propose a similar Maintenance of Effort provision be imposed on all of the state’s Big Five City School Districts (New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers) to ensure they contribute their "fair share" of educational expenses.

The Internet Gradebook Pilot Program - Parental involvement in their child’s education is an important element of academic success, however, work and recreational schedules often make it difficult to keep up. Assembly Minority members propose a pilot program that will make it easier for parents to track their child’s grades, attendance and upcoming homework assignments, by providing 24-hour access on the Internet. The program would also provide teachers with a flexible system for tracking of individual and class grades, the development of academic reports, and the presentation of individual student academic performance records on the Internet.

Task Force on Educational Standards --In order to ensure that New York provides the best possible educational environment for our children, Assembly Minority members propose creation of a Task Force on Educational Standards charged with studying whether schools have all the necessary tools and resources to fully implement the tough standards set for students as well as ensuring that students are taught the proper curriculum to perform successfully on the Regents examinations.

Task Force on Successful New York Schools --New York has an abundance of schools that have achieved a level of excellence in academics and other disciplines. These schools could serve as role models for other educational institutions in the state as well as aid the Legislature in crafting legislation related to education. The Task Force on Successful New York Schools would travel to schools that have implemented successful and creative programs that encourage parental involvement, high graduation rates, community partnerships and anti-bullying, hazing and binge drinking programs.

Mandate Relief - Assembly Minority members favor prohibition of new mandates that impose costs on school districts unless they are first approved by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform as necessary for public health and safety.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 2005 - Currently, 75 reporting requirements are imposed on school districts by New York State. Assembly Minority members support requiring the Commissioner of Education to consolidate needed reporting requirements and eliminate unnecessary ones.

Board of Regents Reform --Assembly Minority members propose restructuring the Board of Regents to better represent communities throughout New York State. Board membership would increase from 16 to 18, with 12 members appointed by the Governor, two each by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the Senate and one each by the Minority Leaders of the Assembly and Senate. In addition, Regents would be required to comply with all New York ethics, disclosure and business prohibition laws and Board meetings would have to comply with the Open Meetings Law.

Enriching the Educational Experience
New York’s children deserve a rich and diverse educational experience that prepares them for graduation and beyond. Assembly Minority members propose initiatives that expose students to computers and support additional enrichment programs both in and out of the classroom.

Computer Laptop Pilot Program --Assembly Minority members support the creation of a computer laptop pilot program that integrates wireless technology into New York schools. Participating schools would receive wireless computer technology and software for students and teachers grades six through eight along with operating instructions. Schools across the nation have successfully implemented similar programs.

Private School Eligibility for Computer Hardware Aid --Currently, only public schools are eligible to receive Instructional Computer Hardware and Technology Equipment Aid. Assembly Minority members propose opening up eligibility to private, religious and independent schools so that students at those institutions can also benefit from the funding that supports purchase and limited repair of computer hardware.

Computer and School Supply Sales Tax Free Week --To assist parents with the growing burden of school supply costs, Assembly Minority members propose a sales tax free week for all education-related purchases and computer hardware and software. The program would run in conjunction with the semi-annual sales tax free weeks on clothing that occur in January and September.

Teacher Tax Credit - Assembly Minority members favor a $500 tax credit for teachers in recognition of the countless educators in New York State who generously contribute their own funds to improve the classroom setting by purchasing supplies, paying for field trip costs and helping out students.

Higher Education- the First Step to a Bright Future
In order to maintain access to an affordable higher education and ensure that college graduates are properly trained to meet the rapidly evolving technological needs of high-tech employers, Assembly Minority members propose the following initiatives:

Self-Managing New York’s 529 College Savings Program --Assembly Minority members believe families should be able to invest their money with the financial institution of their choice. Therefore, this proposal mandates that the state Comptroller allow all qualified financial institutions to manage the College Choice Savings Program.

Community College and BOCES Partnership Program - Assembly Minority members support legislation to create a partnership between community colleges and BOCES, establishing a High-Tech Manufacturing Job Training Program that gives students vital hands-on experience. Participating community colleges would be eligible for state capital grants to support the purchase of necessary manufacturing equipment.

Community College Workforce Development Program --In addition to training the workers of tomorrow, Assembly Minority members are committed to keeping longtime, dedicated workers in New York State. Under this program, community colleges would develop a high-tech manufacturing job training program to re-train displaced workers. In partnership with the High-Tech Research and Development Corridor, the state would provide 50 percent tuition reimbursement to employees participating in the program.

Recognizing Exceptional Students Students of Excellence Summit Day in the State Legislature --One of the best ways to learn about New York State government is to visit the Capitol in Albany. This program creates an annual essay contest for high school juniors and seniors, with "winners" invited to travel to the state Capitol, meet with their state representatives, and learn about the functions of their office as well as about career opportunities in state government.

Keeping Schools Safe Reducing Hazing and Bullying in Schools --To provide further protections for students, teachers and school personnel, Assembly Minority members favor harsher penalties for bullying and hazing, especially on and around school property. The proposal includes creation of a State Hotline to report bullying and hazing.

Safer Communities

New York is currently the safest large state in the nation, but there is more to be done. Assembly Minority members stand committed to further reducing violent crime and other illegal activity by supporting the following initiatives designed to ensure the utmost safety of every New Yorker, both at home and in the communities we share.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, New York State has been at a heightened state of alert. The Assembly Minority Safety First Act of 2005 is a comprehensive package of legislation to protect New Yorkers on our streets, at our borders and throughout the state from terrorism and transportation-related crimes.

Transportation Safety
In recent years, New York has made positive strides to make our streets safer, most notably the reduction of New York’s legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) threshold to 0.08 percent. However, many risk factors still need to be addressed.

Hardcore Drunk Drivers: The vast majority of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes either have a BAC of at least 0.15 or are repeat DWI offenders. To combat these most dangerous motorists, Assembly Minority members propose to:

  • Create the felony of Aggravated DWI for those convicted with a BAC of 0.18 or higher;

  • Require that those charged with Aggravated DWI have their driver’s license suspended pending prosecution and, if convicted, have their license revoked for three years.

Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle: This new legislation would hold deadly drivers accountable for their actions by imposing a criminal penalty for the negligent operation of a motor vehicle which results in the death of another person.

Excessive Speed: Excessive speed is frequently a factor in crashes with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and other collisions, often increasing the severity of the accident. Because penalties for infractions that involve driving at excessive speed are often easily circumvented by simply pleading to a lesser offense, the problem needs to be specifically addressed. Assembly Minority members propose to:

  • Increase the numbers of points assessed to drivers caught going at least 20 miles per hour above the speed limit in areas posted at 45 mph or less;

  • Increase the numbers of points attached to a person’s license for habitual speeding violations.

Hit, Run and Hide -- Under current law, a driver may be compelled to flee a fatal accident scene, particularly if alcohol or drugs are involved, because the legal consequences for driving off are less severe than if they stayed and accepted responsibility for their actions. To rectify this loophole, Assembly Minority members propose stiffer penalties for those who flee the scene of a fatal auto accident, nearly doubling the current sentencing provisions.

Mobile Infrared Transmitters (MIRT): These devices, which are commonly used by police and emergency personnel, enable drivers to change traffic lights from red to green immediately. They can be purchased relatively easily on the Internet and can be extremely dangerous if used by the general public. This Assembly Minority proposal would outlaw their use by unauthorized drivers.

It has been more than three years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 yet, due to inaction by the AssemblyMajority, New York’s anti-terrorism laws have changed only marginally. The Assembly Minority suggests the following changes, many of which are supported by the Governor and have already passed the State Senate:

Cyberterrorism: Create a crime for using the Internet, or other electronic means, to commit acts of terrorism;

Agri-bioterrorism: The food we eat is a fundamental resource, one that can too easily be threatened. This legislation would punish individuals who attack our food supply for the purpose of intimidating either civilians or our government;

Committee on Homeland Security: Such a body should be created within the Assembly to deal with issues that pertain specifically to terrorist activities;

Roving Wiretap: Authorize the use of roving wiretaps in certain circumstances to make it easier for law enforcement officials to track those suspected of terrorist activities;

Freight Rail Security: Another unfortunate consideration in our post 9/11 world is tre legitimacy of freight rail shipments along the New York-Canadian border, especially those that contain hazardous materials. Although security has been stepped up in recent years, gaps still exist - particularly in rural, remote or sparsely-staffed areas of the border. Secure rail policies that target screening and examination of freight rail shipments (especially those containing hazardous materials) into the United States, and particularly those coming over the New York-Canadian border is a top Assembly Republican priority.

Reducing Urban Crime
The Assembly Minority Task Force on Urban Crime held a series of hearings across the state in 2004 to gather information about the problem of crime in our cities. The Task Force plans to continue those hearings throughout the coming year in an effort to produce a comprehensive omnibus bill to address the crime and violence plaguing New York’s urban areas. Preliminary recommendations of the task force include:

  • Warrant Return Assistance Program (WRAP): Provide communities with funds to return criminals to their home jurisdictions if those municipalities are unwilling to pick up the necessary costs;

  • Gunshot Detection: Create a pilot program using proven gunshot detection technology to assist undermanned and overworked police departments. In addition to improving response time, this program would help police to implement preventative strategies in high-risk areas;

  • Expansion of "Bawdy House" Law: Improve the current law so that it can be better applied to the fight against the illegal drug trade. This could be accomplished by adding possession and/or sale of drugs to the unlawful activities already covered under the law, expanding the geographic area encompassed by the law from 200 to 1,000 feet, and giving certain neighborhood officials the right to begin eviction proceedings;

  • Abandoned Houses: Make it easier for municipalities to remove abandoned and deteriorating houses to improve the quality of life in certain neighborhoods.

Combating the Growing Meth Problem
The scourge of drug abuse is no longer just an urban issue. It has now infiltrated each region of our state and has devastated families everywhere. The most insidious new drug plague is the manufacture and use of methamphetamine.

Experts say that the drug could soon rival "crack cocaine" in New York State unless preventative measures are taken immediately. It is easily and cheaply produced from a variety of "run of the mill" ingredients and highly addictive. Additional resources, stricter laws, and increased public awareness are crucial to combating this potential epidemic in New York. The Assembly Minority proposals include:

  • Expand the crime of "criminal possession of precursors of controlled substance" to include chemicals commonly used in methamphetamine production;

  • Restrict access to certain precursor chemicals used to produce methamphetamine;

  • Criminalize clandestine laboratory operations, with additional penalties when children are present.

"Zero Tolerance" for Sex Crimes
Over the past two years, S.A.V.E.-NY, the Assembly Minority Task Force on Sex Crimes Against Children and Women, has held hearings across the state to gather information about new ways to combat sexual violence and strengthen Megan’s Law. The resulting "zero tolerance" proposal will help to further protect New York’s women and children, and deliver a clear message to criminals that the eradication of these brutal assaults is a high priority for state government. Components of the plan include:

Phase I - Combating Sexual Violence Against Children

  • Remove the "affirmative defense" that allows offenders who do not return verification forms to escape punishment by simply proving they have not moved;
  • Increase the penalty for failing to register or verify current address from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony for the first offense;
  • Add the amount of time the offender evaded registration to the required registration period;
  • Create a Class E felony for submitting fraudulent information for registration or verification purposes;
  • Increase the penalty for Level 3 offenders who fail to register or re-verify to a Class D felony;
  • Provide for Internet posting of Levels 1 and 2 sex offenders, in addition to Level 3 sex offenders;
  • Requires a photograph submitted by a sex offender to be taken contemporaneous with the act of registration; requires directory of sex offenders to maintain a directory of sex offenders on the internet to be available at all times;
  • Require, rather than permit, dissemination of information about Levels 2 and 3 offenders to "vulnerable populations" as officially defined by DCJS;
  • Prohibit any sex offender from living within 1,000 feet of school grounds, or within 500 feet in New York City;
  • Relieve schools from liability in the event that parents are not notified when their children are questioned by law enforcement officials on school property;
  • Prohibit registered sex offenders from working in any capacity in which they could have significant contact with children;
  • Create the crime of attempting to lure or entice a minor for sexual purposes, whether in person or online, including law enforcement officials who pose as minors in the scope of an investigation;
  • Prohibit those accused of sex offenses from pleading to any non-sexual crime;
  • Allow prosecutors to appeal low bail and sentencing determinations;
  • Permit prior sexual offenses to be admissible in court proceedings for similar accusations;
  • Revoke Youthful Offender status upon conviction for a second sexual offense within five years;
  • Prohibit the release of sex offenders on bail or recognizance in cases of A, B, or C felony offenses pending appeal, regardless of the victim’s age;
  • Require sex offenders to undergo polygraph examinations as a condition of probation;
  • Eliminate the statute of limitations for all Class B sex offenses, and extend the statute for certain sex crimes committed against children;
  • Increase penalties for commission of sex crimes against children, increase the penalty for incest from a Class E to a Class D felony;
  • Increase penalties for repeat public lewdness offenses, make public lewdness a registerable offense in extreme cases;
  • Create new crimes for endangering the welfare of a child and the use or promotion of a child in a sexual or obscene performance;
  • Allow parents to tape record a child’s phone conversations in the home if doing so is in the best interest of the child;
  • Continued Civil Confinement: Would give judges the discretion to order the most dangerous sexual predators remanded to secure mental facilities following incarceration if they still pose a threat.

Phase II - Violence Against Women Prevention Act of 2005

  • Continued Civil Confinement: Would give judges the discretion to order the most dangerous sexual predators remanded to secure mental facilities following incarceration if they still pose a threat;
  • Consecutive Sentencing for Serial Rapists: Require that sex offenders convicted of rapes against multiple victims must serve the sentences for each crime consecutively, rather than concurrently;
  • Require certain sex offenders to be tested for transmissible diseases, and facilitate voluntary testing for victims at state expense;
  • Require mandatory jail time for repeat violators of orders of protection;
  • Increase penalties for unlawful intentional viewing (Peeping Toms): make third degree a Class B misdemeanor, second degree a Class A misdemeanor, and first degree a Class E felony and a registerable offense;
  • Adopt stiffer penalties for gang sexual assault: make gang sexual assault with the use of a weapon a Class D felony;
  • Prohibit those accused of sex offenses from pleading to any non-sexual crime;
  • Allow prosecutors to appeal low bail and sentencing determinations;
  • Permit prior sexual offenses to be admissible in court proceedings for similar accusations;
  • Revoke Youthful Offender status upon conviction for a second sexual offense within five years;
  • Eliminate the statute of limitations for class B violent felonies; require reports on certain post-conviction motions involving DNA evidence; provide for the use of DNA in missing persons cases; make all criminal convicts designated offenders for DNA submission purposes; make failure to submit a class E felony and grounds for revocation of parole or probation; direct the commission on forensic science to establish a DNA review subcommittee;
  • Create the new crime of Domestic Assault for those who commit violent acts against partners, children or other household or family members and establish penalties for the crime. Increase duration of Orders of Protection.

Additional Anti-Crime Measures

Death Penalty -- In the summer of 2004, the Court of Appeals ruled that New York’s death penalty law was unconstitutional based on its jury deadlock instruction. As a result, capital punishment has been left in limbo. Shortly after the Court’s decision, both Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Bruno expressed a desire to correct this flaw. The Senate subsequently passed a Governor’s Program bill, while the Assembly failed to act. Assembly Minority members favor legislation similar to the Senate’s, which instructs juries in death penalty cases that they must be unanimous in the sentence they impose. In the absence of unanimity, the alternative sentence would be life without parole.

Commencement of a Criminal Action -- Under current law, in order to obtain an arrest warrant, the officer must file a local criminal court accusatory instrument. This filing commences a criminal action and at the same time triggers substantial collateral rights for the defendant. The defendant’s right to counsel is then deemed to have attached and the defendant cannot waive his/her right to counsel in the absence of counsel. In some instances, defendants want to speak with law enforcement, but are unable to do so as their rights have already been triggered. By changing the commencement of a criminal action to the time of arraignment, this will allow law enforcement to more effectively investigate and interview defendants who want to waive their own rights and speak with law enforcement.

Prescription Drug Diversion -- The abuse of prescription drugs poses many risks to society, including ingestion of unlabeled and unidentified medications, addictions and related street crimes that placed increased demands on law enforcement sources. In addition, prescription drug diversion results in misappropriation of health care system funds, often from government reimbursement programs. Assembly Minority members propose strengthening the ability to prosecute pharmacists and others involved in criminally diverting drugs.

Protecting Our Quality of Life
Assembly Minority members recognize that quality of life is a vital component to the success and advancement of New York State. Through a series of programs targeted at enhancing housing, healthcare, and childcare as well as new programs for veterans and immigrants, we will improve upon the quality of life for all New Yorkers - from our newest residents to those fighting overseas to protect our homeland.

Commitment to Military
Assembly Minority members recognize the sacrifices that New York’s citizen soldiers routinely make in defense of our freedom, both at home and abroad. Over the past two years, we have been primary architects of both the Patriot Plan and its subsequent enhancement. Our blueprint for 2005 includes child care benefits to further support these brave men and women who voluntarily put their lives on hold to answer their country’s call and creation of state veterans’ cemeteries to honor their fallen comrades.

Child care cost relief for NYS National Guard Families -- Provide financial relief to the families of NYS National Guard members in which one or both parents have been called to federal active duty other than training purposes.

Adopt the recommendations of the New York State Veterans’ Cemetery Committee - Assembly Minority members applaud the creation of the New York State Veterans Cemetery Committee and advocate the immediate implementation of the committee’s recommendations, due on June 30, 2005.

Housing Initiative Package
In 2004, Assembly Minority members conducted a series of "Building for our Future - Funding for Affordable Housing" forums across the state. The resulting legislative recommendations include incentives to rehabilitate and build housing, discourage the abandonment of homes in distressed neighborhoods, and provide greater opportunities for New Yorkers to realize the dream of homeownership.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit - Would create a $4 million state tax credit for the rehabilitation and construction of single-family homes in low-income neighborhoods, rural areas, and areas of chronic economic stress.

Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit -- Create a tax credit of 15 percent of the qualified rehabilitation expenses incurred by the taxpayer.

Historic House Tax Credit -- Create a two-tiered state tax credit for rehabilitation of owner occupied homes located on the national or state historic registers or in historic districts.

Create a program that provides tax exemptions and tax abatements to owners of multiple dwellings and provide rehabilitation work on those properties.

Allow any municipality in the state to make loans, in conjunction with private lenders, for the reconstruction or rehabilitation of residential housing in areas in danger of deteriorating.

Create an anti-abandonment initiative allowing localities to convey distressed residential property that is foreclosed upon for non-payment of taxes.

New Americans
For generations, New York has been a favored destination of people from other nations in search of better lives. Assembly Minority members now seek to further that legacy by opening a dialogue on the needs of those who continue to follow the Statue of Liberty’s torch as a beacon to freedom.

Assembly Minority Task Force on New Americans will work with various interest groups involved in improving the lives of New Americans. The Task Force defines "New Americans" as those individuals born in a country other than the United States. The mission of the Task Force is to gather and examine information and engage in a multi-pronged analysis of the needs of New Americans and their communities in order to determine and develop ways in which New York State can better improve the quality of life for these individuals and their families. In a social and political climate that includes varying opinions and philosophies on immigration issues, we hope this task force will provide a stimulus for state-wide discussion and action.

Child Care
New York’s working parents require a variety of quality child care choices, with a particular emphasis on cost and flexibility. The following proposals would help to provide them with a broader spectrum of both business and home-based day care options.

Day Care Clearing House Website --Expand upon the existing Office of Children and Family Services on-line database to provide specific information regarding the license status and violations of day care facilities across the state.

Tax Credit for Low Child Care Worker Wages -- Create a tax credit to provide a more streamlined wage supplement to workers playing a direct role in the education and development of a child based on the worker’s education and experience.

Tax Incentives for Employer-Based Child Care -- Create tax incentives for businesses that develop child care facilities for their employees.

Access to quality, affordable healthcare is essential to every New Yorker. Unfortunately, the delivery of such care often leaves hospitals and other providers with inordinate amounts of paperwork. The following Assembly Minority proposals would make healthcare more affordable for those who need it most, while also streamlining hospital administration so medical professionals will have more time they can devote to treating patients.

EPIC Extra -- Allow every senior with an income of less than $60,000 to claim an annual income tax deduction of up to $1,000 to defray the cost of prescription drugs.

Hospital Technology Modernization Program --Provide hospitals with incentives such as low interest loans to modernize their information processes to reduce paperwork, expedite payments to providers, reduce errors and maintain reimbursement rates for hospitals and providers.

Health Insurance Tax Credit -- Provide young adults who are paying their own health insurance premiums with a tax credit for three years after graduation from high school, college or graduate school.

Expand Appeal of Federal Health Savings Accounts (HSA) -- New York’s health insurance statutes predate the availability of HSA’s, making them difficult to obtain. Assembly Republicans propose to ease state requirements so more New York families might take advantage of this federal program.