Report to Community Board 6

January 14, 2009

Session Starts in Albany: On January 7th the New York State Assembly opened its 232nd legislative session. There are many challenges to be addressed in the new session, none more important than the growing budget crisis. As previously reported, the Governor released his preliminary budget last month, in the hopes of stimulating budget negotiations. As we await word on the federal stimulus package, the Assembly has already begun holding hearings to review the Governor’s budget proposals. This first round of hearings will be completed by February 4th and will be the basis for the Assembly’s formal response to the Governor’s budget.

In addition to addressing the budget crisis, the Assembly will also consider some critical legislation this year. After passing 18 of his bills through the Assembly in 2008 – of which 9 were also passed in the Senate and 7 were signed into law by Governor Paterson – Kavanagh has already introduced 103 bills on housing, the environment, political and governmental reform, gun safety, and other issues for the 2009 session. We will provide additional details as bills work their way through the legislative process.

Mulch Ado About Christmas Trees: Last Saturday Assemblymember Kavanagh joined New York City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and other elected officials for the 13th annual MulchFest, a citywide event where New Yorkers recycle their Christmas trees by converting them into wood chips. Kavanagh attended events at Tompkins Square Park and Stuyvesant Town. MulchFest 2009 converted 17,083 trees into woodchips – a 30 percent increase from last year, with 5,820 trees coming from Manhattan. Woodchip mulch moderates soil temperatures, helps retain soil moisture and deters weed growth while slowly adding nutrients to the soil. The mulch will be used to line street tree pits and flowerbeds in parks. Wood chips may also be used in homes and gardens to enrich soil and control weeds and participants were given biodegradable bags to carry home some of their own mulch. In total, as part of the event, Parks & Recreation designated 89 recycling sites to accept trees throughout the five boroughs. At many of the tree drop-off locations, chippers were on hand and residents could take home mulch for their own gardens and plants. Last year, more than 173,000 Christmas trees were collected and recycled by the City – more than 13,000 through MulchFest.

Kavanagh’s Key Card Bill Voted Out of Committee: Assemblymember Kavanagh’s bill, A514, which would prohibit landlords from employing key-card systems that track personal information without tenants’ consent, passed the Assembly’s Cities Committee on Tuesday. The bill would ban electronic key card systems that collect personal data, including photographs, names, addresses, and the dates and times tenants or their guests enter and exit their apartments.

Kavanagh and Housing Committee to Review Affordable Housing Laws: On Friday, January 16th, the Assembly’s Housing Committee will hold a hearing to examine what actions can be taken to preserve the existing supply of rent regulated housing in New York and to encourage the development of new units. Last year the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of housing legislation, which included bills to eliminate vacancy decontrol, increase penalties for tenant harassment and limit the length of time over which a landlord can recoup the costs of major capital improvements (MCIs). Kavanagh was a sponsor of all the bills in the housing package, and as a member of the Housing Committee, looks forward to working with his colleagues in the Assembly and the new Senate Majority to address the critical housing issues that face our community.