2003 Legislative Report from the
NYS Assembly Committee on

Sheldon Silver, Speaker square RoAnn Destito, Chair square Summer 2003

RoAnn Destito, Chair As Chair of the Standing Committee on Governmental Operations, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the activities of the Committee. The Committee is working diligently on a number of issues aimed at supporting our military personnel and their families, helping elderly victims of identity theft by providing financial counseling and establishing uniform firefighting standards for live burn exercises. If you have questions on anything contained here, would like copies of legislation, or would like to share any ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at (518) 455-5454.


RoAnn Destito, Chair
Assembly Committee on
Governmental Operations

Session 2003
...at a Glance

2003 Legislative Initiatives
Crime Victims Package
In order to highlight Crime Victims week, April 7-11, the Assembly passed a six-bill package. The package of bills responds to specific and repeated concerns voiced by crime victims in New York State. Highlights of the Assembly’s six-bill crime victim package include measures that would:

  • Ensure that programs are in place to provide necessary forensic examinations for sexual assault survivors by enacting the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Payment Act of 2003 (A.11 - John);
  • Allow parents whose children are victims of crimes to seek restitution for lost earnings from the CVB (A.3097 - Diaz,R.);
  • Enhance efforts to make crime victims aware of their rights and the services and programs available to them (A.1739 - Sidikman);
  • Improve the CVB’s ability to help victims by establishing a Victim’s Assistance Education Program for board members and staff (A.1738 - Sidikman);
  • Provide financial assistance to crime victims so that they can attend and participate in court proceedings related to their cases (A.4011 - Ortiz); and
  • Require the CVB to provide claimants who are denied claims with a complete explanation of the reasons for the Board’s decision (A.2853 - Dinowitz).

In addition, Chairwoman Destito also unveiled a new bill, A.8136, that would authorize the use of crime victim awards for financial counseling of elderly and disabled victims of fraud or economic crimes. This would aid residents who were victims of crimes like telemarketing fraud or identity theft. This bill was passed by both houses.

Live Fire Training Initiatives
In 2001, a firefighter in Oneida County was killed, and two more were seriously injured, during a live fire burn exercise. In 2002, nine firefighters and a civilian were injured in Montgomery County, when a building, used in a live fire exercise, exploded. These incidents show an overwhelming need for the State to act and prevent future misfortune in training exercises in our communities.

As a result, A.8145 (Destito) was introduced to prohibit the use of a person as a victim in a live fire exercise. This bill has passed both houses.

Legislature Approves Patriot Plan
The Committee reported and the Assembly passed A.9110 (Silver, Destito), which aims at supporting New York State’s more than 20,000 military men and women and their families.

The Patriot Plan will help veterans deal with important health issues, alleviate the concerns of active military personnel over job and financial security and protect students called to duty who have to suspend their education by allowing them to retain credits, standing or scholarships. The legislation also contains measures to supplement current benefits for those soldiers called to active duty, including a supplemental funeral benefit of up to $6,000 for soldiers killed in combat or duty subject to hostile fire or imminent danger.

New York’s Patriot Plan reflects the concerns voiced by veterans groups and maintains New York’s commitment to serving the men and women who have served our country so well. Other provisions include allowing veterans to transfer their military training and experience to civilian jobs and for higher education credit. The plan will also extend the time to obtain job-related licensing, certification and continuing education requirements for those on active duty.

Hearings and Roundtables

Women and Technology in the 21st Century
The Committees on Governmental Operations and on Labor, the Task Force on Women’s Issues, the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, and the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology have developed a series of roundtables focusing on women and technology in the 21st Century. The Committees, Commissions and Task Force recognize the fact that proportionally fewer women pursue science degrees and earn less than men in both technology fields and in the workforce. Because many of the new businesses in the economy derive from science and technology innovations, the underrepresentation of women in this field risks continued disparity in income between men and women.

The roundtables focus on the barriers that hinder women from succeeding in science and technology careers, the nature and extent of the barriers, and solutions that may increase women’s participation in science and technology.

The first roundtable was held on March 20, 2003, in Utica. On April 15, 2003, a roundtable was held in Albany that had a special focus on pay equity. Participation at the roundtables has been phenomenal with industry representatives, educators, universities, profession organizations and labor groups attending. Future roundtable destinations include Rochester and New York City.

Committee Chair RoAnn Destito briefs members of the committee on New York State’s new building code. Guest speaker was Tom Labelle of the NYS Association of Fire Chiefs.

Help Americans Vote Act
The Committees on Governmental Operations and on Election Law held three hearings across New York State in order to obtain public comment on New York State’s implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

The first hearing was on April 4, 2003, in New York City, followed by an April 14, 2003, hearing in Albany, and the last hearing was held in Rochester on Wednesday, April 23rd. These hearings provided a forum, open to the public, to comment on what should be included in the state plan to implement HAVA. The implementation of HAVA will impact the voting procedures for all New Yorkers for the foreseeable future.

The Help America Vote Act requires the New York State Task Force to make decisions on: developing a statewide centralized electronic database of eligible voters, ensuring accessible voting especially for minority and disabled communities, broadening participation and setting requirements for the statewide training for election officials and poll workers.

Assemblymember Destito chairs a discussion on MWBE legislation at a roundtable held in New York City. Left to right: Assemblymembers Peter Rivera, RoAnn Destito, Darryl Towns, and Adriano Espaillat.

Extension of Executive Law, Article 15-A
(Participation by Minority Group Members and Women with Respect to State Contracts)
In July 1988, Article 15-A of the executive law created the Governor’s Office of Minority and Women’s Business Development. The office was created to assist minority and women business enterprises (MWBE’s) in securing state contracts and to increase general employment and business opportunities for MWBE’s throughout New York State. In 1992, this office merged with the Department of Economic Development and was renamed the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development (the Division). Article 15-A was authorized for fifteen years and is set to expire on December 31, 2003.

In light of the pending expiration of Article 15-A, the Committees on Governmental Operations, Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, and Small Business, the Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus, the Task Force on Women’s Issues, and the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force held a joint hearing to examine the reauthorization of Article 15-A of the Executive Law. This hearing allowed the Committees, Task Forces and Caucuses to examine the effectiveness of the Article in encouraging public agencies and authorities to attract and retain women and minority owned businesses (MWBE’s) as state contractors for goods and services.

While the hearing proved successful in examining the extent to which the Division has implemented the provisions of Article 15-A and the extent to which public agencies have devised specific plans and programs to increase the number and amount of contracts awarded to MWBE’s, public comment was also a very important aspect of the process.

On May 30, 2003, the Committees, Task Forces and Caucuses held a roundtable in New York City in order to obtain the views of MWBE owners on the effectiveness of the program. The roundtable was well attended by trade groups, business organizations and minority and women business owners who shared their experiences and suggestions for the reform of Article 15-A.

Chairwoman Destito has introduced and the Committee has reported Assembly bill 7233-a, which would extend the provisions of Article 15-A for fifteen years and would extend Article 15-A oversight over the Urban Development Corporation. In addition, the Committee has reported Assembly bill 6750 (Millman) which would require the State Comptroller to conduct an audit and review of Article 15-A, as well as a disparity study, and two bills — A.8715-a (Cook, Destito) and A.9057 (Towns, Destito) — which would increase oversight and outreach capabilities of the state.

The Assembly passed all these legislative initiatives. The Senate passed A.7233-a and A.9057, but failed to act on the audit and review legislation.

NYS Chief Information Officer James Dillon (3rd from left) joins Assemblymember Destito in addressing a meeting of the committee.

Upcoming Events

Disaster Preparedness Committee to Hold Hearings This Fall
Pursuant to Assembly resolution 897 and Senate resolution 1911, the Legislature created a Temporary Legislative Joint Committee on Disaster Preparedness. The Committee will evaluate existing agencies that deal with disaster preparedness and response issues, analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization structure and interagency cooperation. This will enable the Committee to make recommendations regarding the most effective organization of these functions that will enhance public security, ensure the most productive use of expenditures and increase accountability.

Chairwoman Destito has been appointed the Assembly Co-chair of the Committee. An update on the Committee’s progress will be issued this fall.

Assemblymember RoAnn Destito, Chair
Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations
Room 621 LOB square Albany, NY 12248 square 518.455.5454

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]