Assemblyman
Steve
Englebright
2003
Year in Review
Winter 2003



Dear Neighbor:

Despite hopeful glimmers of a turnaround in our national economy, most of the states have suffered massive budget shortfalls from the down turned economy. In New York the economic aftershocks of the September 11th attack significantly compounded our budgetary challenges.

Consequently, we faced many difficult budget choices in 2003. During the process my colleagues and I were keenly aware that the enormous budget cuts proposed by the Governor such as a dramatic reduction in education funding would mean massive property tax hikes for homeowners and devastated school programs for our children. Likewise, the Governorís cuts to healthcare would jeopardize the quality of care available to communities across the state and stress to the breaking point already financially strapped hospitals and nursing homes.

After the Governor refused to address these concerns, the Assembly and Senate passed its own budget restoring many of the Governorís cuts to education and healthcare. And after the Governor vetoed that budget, both houses of the legislature came together in a historic moment that defined this budget year and voted to override that veto.

Given our Stateís fiscal reality, the restorations we were able to make in the budget ensured that property taxpayers werenít straddled with huge tax hikes to maintain educational programs for our kids; that hospitals and nursing homes would not have to lay off healthcare workers and jeopardize services, and that students would continue to have access to higher education.

This newsletter highlights some of this yearís important legislative action. Please call or stop by my district office with any questions or concerns, or if I may be of help regarding any problem you may have. My office offers complimentary notary public service for your convenience.

Sincerely,
Your State Assembly Representative
Steve Englebright




Pictured above are from left to right: Gary Vorwald; Team Head Coach, the Gelinas Science Olympiad Team Members displaying their NYS Assembly Citations, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright.

Assemblyman Englebright recognized the Gelinas Junior High Schoolís Science Olympiad Team for their winning season. Early in February, the team placed 1st in the Suffolk County Regional Science Olympiad. Next, the Gelinas students took 2nd place in the State competition which sent them to the National Tournament held at Ohio State University in May. Competing with the top teams in the country, the Gelinas students held their own and placed 17th out of 54 teams.



SESSION UPDATE
  • BROOKHAVEN COMMUNITY PRESERVATION FUND

As development pressures mount, traditional mechanisms such as environmental bond initiatives have not been able to provide enough funding to preserve our open space, protect drinking water, and stop overdevelopment in the Town of Brookhaven. If left unchecked, this development activity will compromise both the unique character of our town, its cultural and natural assets, and the significant commitments previously made by local governments and the State of New York for the purposes of open space protection.

As a response, Assemblyman Englebright sponsored legislation (A.3583C Englebright / S.1664-C Ken LaValle) to create The Brookhaven Community Preservation Fund which was originally slated to be placed before Brookhaven voters this year but will now await further refinement by the Town Board.

Englebrightís legislation would create a funding mechanism similar to existing community preservation funds in the five East End towns which includes Riverhead and has been operating successfully for over four years. The Brookhaven Community Preservation Fund would finance the preservation of rapidly dwindling open space and farmland. Additionally, the fund also allows for the preservation of historic structures; the creation of a town office of land management; and for the distribution of 10% of collected funds to be divided among school districts where more than 25% of land has been removed from the tax rolls for property tax stabilization.

Additionally, purchasing open space will help hold in check additional recurring property tax hikes - such as school taxes Ė that would otherwise be driven upward by overdevelopment.

  • DESIGNATION OF THE "PEARL HARBOR MEMORIAL BRIDGE" IN CENTEREACH

Assemblyman Englebright sponsored and negotiated into law legislation designating the bridge at the intersection of Middle County Road (Route 25) and Nicolls Road in Centereach as the "Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge." Frank Belsito, commander of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Post 1941, Port Jefferson, played a pivotal role advocating for the naming of this bridge in honor of the men and women who fought and sacrificed on the day our country was attacked and entered the fight for the freedom of the worldís democracies. As so many veterans of World War II are taken from us by time, the naming of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge is a way to say that we remember that we live in a free society today because of the selfless acts of our nationís veterans.

This new law, Chapter 225 of the Laws of 2003, also provides for the installation and maintenance of appropriate signage.

  • NEW BROOKHAVEN TOWN HALL

As many residents know, a trip to town hall means a visit to a nondescript industrial park structure which houses the town offices. However, throughout our history, the builders of civic buildings recognized the importance of the dignity, aesthetic, and function of the government center in which the work of the people is conducted. The architecture and placement of these public structures reinforced the sense of connection that is at the core of democracy.

In that spirit, Assemblyman Englebright sponsored legislation (A.3589 Englebright Chapter 281 signed into law by the Governor on August 5, 2003) which helped to facilitate the purchase of the new Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville by removing the premises from the tax rolls so that town residents do not have to bear the prorated tax burden encumbered before closing.

The new town hall at 1 Allstate Drive in Farmingville near Bald Hill is located centrally for town residents and its vista offers an inspiring view of the broad sweep of Brookhaven from the north shore to the fanning south shore.

  • CONSUMER PROTECTION

Curbing Identity Theft (Chapter 499 of 2003) Our society increasingly relies on debit and credit cards which create receipts with personal information every time we make a transaction. Though convenient, this system is an easy target for thieves to obtain account numbers and rack up illegal charges. Thatís why Assemblyman Englebright sponsored this new law which requires merchants to remove expiration dates of debit and credit cards from electronically printed receipts. It also requires that no more than the last five digits of the account number appear on the receipt.


Assemblyman Englebright joined Lee Xippolitos, Chief Nursing Officer, at Stony Brook University Hospital for Nurses Recognition Week to express gratitude and appreciation for the work of nurses all year long and to recognize the caring and compassion they bring.



ENGLEBRIGHT LEGISLATION
  • PROTECTING OUR HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

Promoting Wind and Hybrid Solar-Wind Electric Generators (A.4245 Englebright) New York has considerable wind energy resources, and this asset has great potential to provide customers low-cost, clean energy. Wind energy has emerged as a cost-effective, clean method for electric generation and can significantly reduce customer electric bills. Small wind generators have zero-emissions and are an environmentally responsible method for generating power. This legislation will encourage both residential and commercial customers to invest in wind or solar generation, thus diminishing our demand for fossil fuels and improving air quality. Englebrightís bill provides for the inclusion of wind and hybrid wind-solar electric generating equipment within provisions relating to net metering for solar and wind generating systems. (Passed State Assembly on 5/21/03 - needs "same as" bill to pass in State Senate)

Neighborhood Notification of Petroleum Discharges - Assemblyman Englebrightís legislation (A.3647 Englebright) would require landowners to be immediately notified of a petroleum discharge once it has been reported to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Current law requires any person responsible for a petroleum discharge to notify the DEC within two hours. This requirement is inadequate in that neighbors are not notified of the release. This bill requests the DEC to immediately notify neighboring property owners and tenants of a petroleum discharge. This will in turn help protect nearby property owners and their drinking water supply which may be potentially impacted by such discharge. (Passed Assembly 3/3/03)

Includes Breast Cancer Survivors on the Health Research Science Board. (A.4002A Englebright) The six persons must be actively involved with community-based, grassroots breast cancer organizations. The 1996 law that created the HRSB provides for 11 scientists as voting members appointed by the Legislature and the Governor; one additional person who has or has had breast cancer is to be appointed as a non-voting member of the Board. The present HRSB composition insufficiently represents persons whose personal experience, knowledge and awareness cannot be matched by those who have not faced this terrible disease first-hand. This bill would provide a great role and voice on the Board for people who are directly affected by the Boardís decisions Ė those who have or have had breast cancer. These six persons would be appointed by the Assembly, the Senate and the Governor from 6 geographically distinct regions of the State.

  • HISTORIC THREE-WAY SUPERFUND-BROWNFIELDS BILL SIGNED INTO LAW

Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblyman Englebright will refinance the stateís Superfund Program and clean-up thousands of contaminated brownfield parcels across New York. To address the future funding needs of the State Superfund Program, the law provides for an estimated $120 million in annual funding to be supported through bonds issued by the Environmental Facilities Corporation. New York has made significant progress in remediating contaminated sites. The State Superfund Program has reduced or eliminated the threat of contamination from hundreds of inactive hazardous waste disposal sites across New York State. The Clean Air/Clean Water Bond Act of 1996 provides funding to municipalities to investigate and remediate contaminated properties, and to return the properties to productive use. The reforms and enhancements included in this bill will serve to accelerate and strengthen the effectiveness of site remediation in New York State.

  • ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT RESTORED AID TO HOSPITALS IN THE 4th DISTRICT BY OVER $9 MILLION

Despite staffing shortages and loss of revenue already facing hospitals and nursing homes, the Governor proposed over $2 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other health care spending statewide. The Governorís proposed cuts to Medicaid seriously threatened the quality of care available for the elderly, in addition to jeopardizing 48,000 healthcare related jobs and eradicating services.

The Assembly and Senate joined together to reject these shortsighted healthcare budget cuts and successfully restored $1.1 billion to Medicaid. In the 4th Assembly District Assemblyman Englebright secured restorations to the John T. Mather Memorial Hospital totaling $170,317. At the St. Charles Hospital & Rehab Center $248,434 was restored. Similarly, the sum of $4,312,401 was restored to Stony Brook University Hospital. In addition, Englebright was instrumental in eliminating a "sick tax" on hospitals and other health care providers that resulted in further restorations to area hospitals, including: $776,946 to the John T. Mather Memorial Hospital; $641,273 to the St. Charles Hospital & Rehab Center; and $2,859,784 to Stony Brook University Hospital.

  • ENGLEBRIGHT SECURED MORE THAN $11.7 MILLION OVER THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED BUDGET FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN THE 4TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

When Governor Pataki proposed a $1.4 billion cut to education Ė the largest in New Yorkís history Ėthe Assembly and Senate rejected the Governorís proposal and joined together to pass a budget that would help schools avoid cutting essential education programs, laying off teachers, overcrowding classrooms, and increasing local property taxes.

The Legislatureís budget provided schools with $1.1 billion more than the Governorís budget proposal for this school year. The resulting restorations for local school districts were:

Three Village - $1,614,107 over the governorís proposal

Comsewogue - $1,396,898 over the governorís proposal plus an additional $150,000

Port Jefferson - $202,382 over the governorís proposal plus an additional $50,000

Mt. Sinai - $1,114,092 over the governorís proposal plus an additional $100,000

Middle Country - $2,121,269 over the governorís proposal plus an additional $500,000

Through the direct advocacy of Assemblyman Englebright an increase of more than $11.7 million over the Governorís budget was secured for school districts in the 4th Assembly District.

In addition to cutting school aid, the governorís budget proposed to freeze the STAR property tax relief program Ė one of the most successful tax relief measures in history. This year Assemblyman Englebright fought to ensure that STAR tax relief remained a reality for the working families who depend on these important savings by making sure that the program wasnít cut by the governor. STAR saves the average property tax payer about $860.

  • SENIOR LIVING LEGISLATION

Assisted Living Facilities Resident Protections (A.421-A Englebright)

Although assisted living facilities have quickly grown in popularity as an option for certain seniors, they are as of yet unregulated. Assemblyman Englebright as the Chair of the Committee on Aging has been working to ensure that all facilities be registered or licensed with the state and that residents and their families have the consumer protections they deserve including full disclosure of what services are provided and their cost. Assemblyman Englebrightís legislation (A.421) would require these facilities to:

  • execute written residency agreements and only admit individuals whose needs can be safely met;
  • maintain and support resident and family councils;
  • allow for special court proceedings when residents are being involuntarily discharged; and
  • train staff regarding residentsí rights and be inspected by the state.

This bill first passed the Assembly on 8/26/02. In 2003, A.421 was resubmitted and passed the Assembly Rules Committee on 6/20/03 Ė it is currently under three-way negotiation with the State Senate and Governor.


Assemblyman Englebright spoke recently at the Island Nursing and Rehab Center on "Critical Issues Facing LIís Seniors."

Pictured right are (from left) David Fridkin, Administrator at Island Nursing; Assemblyman Englebright; and Doreen Guma of Port Jefferson Station, Director of Quality Improvement.


  • PORT JEFFERSON DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES REMAINS OPEN

Through the grassroots effort of hundreds of local residents who wrote letters and signed petitions, as well as the advocacy of elected officials, the Port Jefferson DMV remains open despite a proposed June 2003 closing of this user-friendly office. In a letter to the Commissioner of the NYS DMV, Assemblyman Englebright noted, "Rather than closing this office, it should be held up as a model for the reorganization of other state public service offices. Our local Port Jefferson Station DMV office is an example of state government working with the needs of its citizens in mind. The proposed closing of this office would sever this connection and reinforce the familiar perception that government is more interested in serving itself than its citizens."

Kudos to residents in Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Terryville, the Civic association, and the CSEA who joined together in preserving this important community resource.

  • SENIOR CITIZEN LAW DAY 2003

In his opening statement at the recent public seminar on legal issues facing seniors and their families, Assemblyman Englebright said, "Because many seniors are facing difficult legal issues now, or may face them in the future, Iíve organized our second Senior Citizen Law Day 2003 with the Suffolk Bar Association and the Long Island State Veterans Home to provide attendees with a better understanding of their own and their familiesí legal options, rights, and benefits.

Assemblyman Englebright welcomes a participant at Senior Citizen Law Day 2003 on October 25th.
Assemblyman Englebright also extended warm appreciation to both Stony Brook University for hosting the event at their campus and the hundreds of individuals who attended. Thanks was also extended to the many corporate sponsors of Senior Citizen Law Day including: Jeffersonís Ferry, Sunrise Assisted Living, Times Beacon Record Newspapers, Reon/Realty Group, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate and, Citibank, IPRO, Keyspan, UBS Financial Services, Morningstar Home Health Services, Jolie Powell Realty and Astoria Federal Savings. Special recognition was given to the eventís Coordinating Committee - which included many leaders of the Suffolk Bar Associationís Elder Law Committee - who spent numerous days meeting in Englebrightís district office and at the LI State Veterans Home. These collective efforts helped to make this event a success.

Most especially, the Assemblyman applauded the individuals who presented the seminars - the practicing attorneys, health care professionals, and other elder law experts from our area generously volunteered their time and efforts including: Fred Sganga, MPH, CHE, Kenneth F. Grabie, Esq., Richard Weinblatt, Esq., David R. Okrent, Esq., Sheryl L. Randazzo, Esq., Eileen Coen Cacioppo, Esq., George L. Roach, Esq., Jeanette Grabie, Esq., Tom Murphy, Bryan Frankel, Esq. Denis McElligott, Esq, Regional Director of Attorney General Spitzerís office, and Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld.

  • FIGHTING TOXIC DREDGE SPOIL DUMPING IN LONG ISLAND SOUND

Assemblyman Englebright testified at an EPA hearing on December 11 against the continued Long Island Sound dumping of dredge materials from industrial rivers in Connecticut and in support of Congressman Tim Bishopís Long Island Sound Preservation and Protection Act which would prohibit dredge dumping in the Sound. An excerpt from Englebrightís testimony reads, "The Long Island Sound is one of only a few places in our great nation deserving of federal designation as a National Estuarine Sanctuary. I implore you to take this opportunity to end the abusive use of an "emergency exemption" and not to make an even greater mistake by allowing this exemption to swallow the rule and make permanent mockery of the intent of Congress and our state to protect this critical ecosystem and extraordinary ecologic and economic national asset."

Please call the district office at 751-3094 if you are interested in a copy of Assemblyman Englebrightís testimony on this important environmental health issue.




ALBANY OFFICE: Room 824 LOB, Albany, New York 12248 • (518) 455-4804
DISTRICT OFFICE: 149 Main Street, East Setauket, New York 11733 • (631) 751-3094
engles@assembly.state.ny.us


Back