Assemblywoman Sandy Galef 2011-12 Legislative Highlights

August 29, 2012
(Unless specifically noted, these bills have passed both houses of the legislature as of August 29, 2012. For updated bill status, go to www.assembly.state.ny.us and use the Quick Bill Search box.)

Tax Reduction

  • The Tax Cap legislation imposed a limit of 2% on what school districts, libraries, and local governments could levy from the prior year, without a majority override. There were certain allowances for capitol expenses. As a result, we have seen overwhelming support of our local school budgets at the polls when they stayed within this state cap. (A8518/S5856, Chap. 97 of 2011)
  • We approved new income tax rates in New York. While the new rates create an income tax reduction for 99% of New Yorkers, the new tax structure still allows the state to generate $1.9 billion, which would not have been possible had the old rates on the highest earners been allowed to sunset. (A40002/S50002, Chap. 56 of 2011)
  • At the same time as we reduced income tax rates, we also rolled back the MTA Payroll tax for 80% of small businesses, all schools, and not-for-profits, and we reimbursed libraries for their outlays. (A40002/S50002, Chap. 56 of 2011)
  • We reinstituted the 4% sales tax exemption on all clothing, footwear and related items purchased in New York costing $110 or less per item.

Mandate Relief, Government Consolidation and Sharing

  • With Tier VI Pension Reform, we created a pension tier for newly hired public employees that will increase individual contributions to pensions, cap the use of overtime in final pension calculations, and raise the retirement age, saving $80 billion over 30 years. Putnam County savings are anticipated to be almost $5.8 million within the next five years and over $371.5 million over the next 30 years, while Westchester’s savings are predicted to reach almost $75.5 million over the next five years, and nearly $5 billion over the next thirty years, reducing one of the most costly mandates on local and county governments, schools, libraries, and special districts. (A9558/S6735, Chap. 18 of 2012)
  • We took a major expense off the county rolls by putting in place a staged state takeover of Medicaid administrative costs which will save counties $1.2 billion over the next five years. (Budget 2012-13)
  • Prior to this legislation passing, libraries that merged would have received reduced state aid. This was a financial disincentive to merging and consolidating collections and employees. This bill will remove that restriction. (A10347/S7239)
  • BOCES does a wonderful job creating programs for a wide variety of students as well as for professional development of teachers and administrators. With this law, we will enable BOCES to increase their revenue stream by offering access to these programs and curricula to states outside of New York. This will help offset the property tax burden for New Yorkers. (A10205-S/S7120-A, Chap. 396 of 2012)
  • This law will offer municipalities flexibility in determining the appropriate equipment needed to provide emergency escape systems for their firefighters, while getting rid of an inadequate one-size-fits-all law that called for the purchase of unnecessary equipment. (A10677/S7677, Chap. 360 of 2012)
  • Up until now, public libraries and BOCES were denied the opportunity to contract with one another, even in cases where there would be services that would be mutually beneficial. This law will allow the two entities to enter into contracts with one another without further hindrance, encouraging sharing and cost savings. (A10147/S7014, Chap. 422 of 2012)
  • Another bill to encourage sharing and cost-saving, my legislation which only passed the Assembly so far would allow certain not-for-profits to purchase goods and services through county contracts. (A8551/S2012-A)
  • With the intent of saving local taxpayers by promoting fiscal efficiencies, this law will allow fire companies to enter into contracts with other municipal corporations such as ambulance districts and other fire departments, for the joint purchasing of goods, supplies and services. (A10279-A/S3739-A, Chap. 407 of 2012)

Boosting Economic Activity

  • The New York Works Program allocates $1.2 billion in state and federal funds to repair bridges and roads, and is in addition to the $1.6 billion already allocated this year for a core transportation capital program for roads and bridges. (Budget 2012-13)
  • This bill will increase the maximum award available under the historic preservation tax code, helping to encourage revitalization of the local economy by offering additional incentives to renovate and restore buildings in severe disrepair from long-time abuse and neglect. (A9110/S6134)
  • We will provide tax credits for small New York State craft breweries and allow farms to brew locally made beer and cider to stimulate economic activity and encourage local production. (A10695/S7728, Chap. 109 of 2012 & A10694/S7727, Chap. 108 of 2012)
  • With this law, we removed certain regulations so that wineries can now more easily process, promote and sell New York Wines, making them more competitive in their industry. (A7828-A/S4143-A, Chap. 221 of 2011)
  • We will enhance tax credits from 10 to 30 percent for film and television post production, further supporting this growing sector of New York’s economy. (A10244-A/S7244-A, Chap. 268 of 2012)
  • The Innovate NY Fund is already helping to support innovation, job creation, and high growth entrepreneurship throughout the state by making it easier for small businesses to obtain financing through this seed-stage equity fund. (A8452/S5782 Chap. 103 of 2011)

Health and Safety

  • We established the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs to overhaul treatment and prevent abuse and neglect of over one million of our most vulnerable citizens who live in or utilize state-operated, certified or licensed facilities and programs. (A10721/S7749)
  • Our I-STOP legislation creates a prescription-drug database to protect against prescription drug abuse and misuse. (A10623/S7637, Chap. 447 of 2012)
  • We will prohibit smoking within 100 feet of any elementary or secondary school, making sure our youth are not exposed to toxic smoke. (A10141-B/S684-B)
  • While this bill has not yet passed the senate, I was pleased that the Assembly passed legislation making it possible for those needing marijuana for medically indicated pain relief to obtain it in a regulated, safe, legal manner. (A7347-B)
  • Lauren’s Law will help us increase the number of organ donors registered in the state by requiring people to actively select “yes” or “skip this question,” when applying for a drivers license or license renewal. (A10039-B/S7103-A)
  • Before we allow any hydrofracturing for natural gas in New York State, the Assembly passed a bill that calls for a complete health assessment of the impacts this type of drilling would have on those affected by environmental hazards associated with the process. (A10234)

Consumer Protection

  • We allocated $9 million to finance the Homes and Community Renewal mortgage foreclosure counseling services. Additionally, the Department of Financial Services will create the Foreclosure Relief Unit to provide counseling and mediation services to help promote foreclosure prevention. (Budget 2012-13)
  • The Assembly passed a bill, known as the Foreclosure Fraud Prevention Act, to protect homeowners from deceitful business practices used by lenders during the home foreclosure process by making residential mortgage foreclosure fraud a crime. (A10629-A)
  • I co-sponsored a bill, passed by the Assembly, to bar the placement of unauthorized charges on a local telephone bill, a practice known as “cramming,” to stop this deceptive practice. The bill prohibits any third party from adding charges to a phone bill without the informed consent of the consumer. (A10256)
  • A bill I co-sponsored passed the Assembly to prevent unfair gas pricing based on geographical location. (A7775-B)

Government Reform

  • I sponsored this legislation to amend the NYS Constitution by creating a paper-free legislature. This bill would allow state legislators to view bills electronically and will save taxpayer dollars by reducing paper waste. This constitutional amendment must pass again in the 2013-14 legislative session and subsequently be voted on in a public referendum. (A5274-A/S357-A, Delivered to Secretary of State)
  • I have been a strong advocate for an independent redistricting commission and I was pleased the legislature passed this bill earlier this year. While I did vote against the legislation creating the new legislative lines to begin in 2012, I strongly supported the separate measure to change the NYS Constitution to guarantee we have independent redistricting in the future. (A9526/S6698, Delivered to Secretary of State, This proposed constitutional amendment requires passage next legislative session and then would go to the people for a vote.)
  • The Ethics Reform Bill has created a new independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics, and will increase transparency in New York State government by requiring public officials to disclose outside employment, income level, and names of clients who deal with the state in any business capacity. (A8301/S5679, Chap. 399 of 2011)
  • I continue to sponsor legislation calling for the elimination of members items, or alternatively, to create more transparency and equitability in member item distribution. While these bills have not passed, there have not been any member items in the last three state budgets. (A6215 & A855)

Education

  • We increased state aid to public school districts by 4%, an approximately $805 million increase. (Budget 2012-13)
  • We allocated an additional $3.9 million to libraries, part of which was a reimbursement for the MTA payroll tax. (Budget 2012-13)
  • This year we increased aid to community colleges for the first time in five years. (Budget 2012-13)

Criminal Justice

  • This year the legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill requiring that schools take action when students experience cyberbullying, harassment, bullying or discrimination. It will ensure that school districts immediately seek to end the harmful behavior, prevent recurrence and ensure the safety of the targeted students. It also will establish training to strengthen the ability of teachers and administrators to prevent and respond to such acts.(A10712/S7740, Chap 102 of 2012)
  • We passed a bill that will make it a crime to knowingly access child pornography online, which will bring New York into line with current federal law. (A10713/S7742)
  • This important legislation will subject those who repeatedly commit domestic violence crimes to stricter bail requirements and harsher penalties for their actions. We can no longer allow repeat domestic violence offenders to continue their actions without fear of repercussion. (A10624/S7638)
  • Legislation signed into law last year established a ban on the use of electronic devices while driving a car. This law bans drivers from using devices such as mobile phones, PDA’s, laptops, pagers, and electronic games. (A8106/S5643, Chap.109 of 2011)

Environment/Energy

  • I sponsored legislation known as the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, which was signed by the governor. This law will increase public notice about certain sewage discharges. Current notice has proven inadequate and prompt notification of discharge events will help ensure the public has the information needed to limit recreational uses of the water impacted by the sewage discharge. (A10585-A/S6268, Chap. 368 of 2012)
  • I co-sponsored this legislation for the New York Power Authority to produce a report detailing best practices with regard to energy cost savings for schools. This information will help schools statewide determine if there are ways in which they can become more energy efficient and save taxpayer dollars. (A8527-C/S6921, Chap. 420 of 2012)
  • We passed legislation in June which would require unredeemed container deposits to be credited to the Environmental Protection Fund. (A10519/S7525)
  • This law, which I co-sponsored and supported, will authorize a municipal corporation to provide a real property tax exemption for improvements to real property meeting LEED certification standards for green buildings. (A1415-D/S1462-D, Chap 188 of 2012)
  • In this year’s state budget, we maintained the Environmental Protection Fund monies and provided an additional $89 million in funding to rehabilitate state parks. (Budget 2012-13)
  • The Assembly passed legislation in 2011 that would have instituted a moratorium on hydrofracking. (A7400)
  • I co-sponsored Complete Streets Legislation to revise the standards for New York’s roadways so future road construction or renovation projects will give consideration to all users of a public road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit. (A8311/S5411-A, Chap. 398 of 2011)
  • This legislation created Recharge NY, a permanent program that will make reduced-rate power available to non-profits and small businesses across New York State. (A4010/S2810, Chap. 60 of 2011)
  • The Power NY Act of 2011 reestablished New York’s regulations for the placement of power plants and created specific conditions that any new plant would have to follow. (A8510/S5844, Chap. 388 of 2011)

Veterans

  • This bill would allow veterans to have their New York State driver’s license indicate that they are a veteran. This will provide an easy way for veterans to be identified for special offers, programs and services for which they are eligible. (A9611/S6799)
  • This law directs the New York State Office for the Aging and the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs to collaborate and review their programs to ensure they are appropriately responding to the needs of New York State’s veterans’ population. (A544/S1753, Chap. 263 of 2011)
  • This new law, which I co-sponsored, creates a 300-foot buffer zone around funeral services for military members to prevent protestors from disturbing mourners. (A7698/S5605, Chap. 528 of 2011)