As the 2006 legislative session draws to a close, it is fitting we look at what has been accomplished this year.
In the early months of the session, my conference helped pass measures that keep our loved ones safer from sex offenders who are likely to strike again, even after they’ve served prison sentences. We did this by strengthening Megan’s Law to increase the time convicted sex offenders must remain on the state Sex Offender Registry. The most dangerous sex offenders, classified by the state as Level 3 predators, continue to register for life, while moderate-risk Level 2 offenders must register for 30 years. After 30 years, Level 2 offenders may petition judges for removal from the registry.
I don’t believe we can ever be tough enough when it comes to cracking down on crime. In working to make our communities safer, my colleagues and I approved legislation to keep illegal guns off the streets, making it harder for criminals to obtain firearms, and increased penalties for illegal gun traffickers.
The state Legislature also passed the Crimes Against Police Act that increases the penalties for criminals who injure or kill police and correction officers. Convicted murderers of law enforcement personnel face more punitive sentences, including life imprisonment without parole. The state’s death penalty has been ruled unconstitutional by the state Court of Appeals, but I am a strong proponent of correcting the statute’s deficiencies and applying it to perpetrators of these types of crimes.
The Assembly and state Senate this week passed legislation providing personal income tax credits for New York’s homeowners. The School District Property Tax Credit replaces earlier, similar legislation that was deemed unconstitutional by the governor. This new measure still provides much-needed tax relief for community residents who own homes. It’s well known that homeowners in New York state pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation.
The tax credit is especially good news for senior citizens on fixed incomes, who too often lose their homes because of rising assessments and ever-increasing taxes. It is only fitting we return this money to people who earned it while we work to alleviate the property tax burden.
Perhaps the most noticeable impact this year stems from a cap imposed on the state gas sales tax as of June 1. Because of the skyrocketing cost of gasoline and motor fuels, my colleagues and I effectively pushed to limit the state tax on gasoline purchases as a way to help New York’s motorists save money at the gas pumps. Instead of the state reaping an unanticipated windfall from the percentage-based sales tax on gasoline, consumers are able to save or spend the tax savings on other crucial areas.
There is still a great deal of reform and legislation that I want enacted. We must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and explore alternative sources of energy. It’s critical for the Legislature to pass meaningful civil confinement legislation to keep the most dangerous sexual predators off the streets and away from our loved ones.
As a former small business owner, I know what it takes to help New York’s employers succeed in this state. Soaring increases in liability insurance premiums and other costs of doing business make it difficult for local employers to survive and grow. I am advocating reforms targeted at reducing the workers’ compensation burden shouldered by employers. Through the Assembly Minority Small Business Task Force, I constantly look for ways the state can encourage and help small businesses grow in our communities.
As always, please contact my office if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other matters. I can be reached by mail at 2300 West Ridge Road, Rochester, NY 14626, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (585) 225-4190.