LEGISLATIVE
UPDATE
Assemblyman
Steve
Englebright
Summer/Fall 2005 



Dear Neighbor,

From having an on-time budget for the first time in over 20 years to passing important legislation that increased the fiscal accountability of school districts, this year contained many successes for our state.

The advent of budget reforms and the use of conference committees, an open and public process, and the willingness of the Governor to come early to the negotiating table helped to bring positive change to the way the state legislature and the Governor traditionally conducted legislative business.

I have been busy during this legislative season working to move important legislation forward to protect and improve our quality of life including several new laws which strengthen the Meganís Law Sex Offender Registry. This newsletter highlights that work. I hope that you will take a moment to look through it.

As always, please call or stop by my local office at 149 Main Street in Setauket to share your comments, concerns or problems with state or local issues. My office also offers complimentary notary public service, senior citizen cards and a selection of informative brochures.

Sincerely,
signature
Steve Englebright



photo This summer, Assemblyman Englebright recognized the Science Olympiad Team of Gelinas Junior High for another winning season. Also honored was Earth Science teacher Gary Vorwald who devotes untold hours coaching the team of young scientists who compete with other teams in state and national competitions in solving a broad range of science problems.



Legislative Update

New Englebright Laws Help to Strengthen Megan’s Law

Among the highlights of the 2005 Legislative Session are several Englebright measures that will strengthen the Megan’s Law Sex Offender Registry.

  • Requires law enforcement agencies to compile and maintain a listing of sex offenders in the area to notify vulnerable organizations (schools, day care centers, camps, libraries, etc.) (A.2252-A/Englebright) (Awaiting the Governor’s Signature.)

  • Requires that public notices concerning Levels 2 and 3 sex offenders include any aliases the offender is known to use in an attempt to hide his or her identity. (A.2664/Englebright) - (Chapter 318 of 2005)

  • Requires day and overnight children’s camps to run Megan’s Law background checks on prospective job applicants. A.5209/Englebright (Chapter 260 of 2005)

Other important new laws passed during this session:
Hospital Infection Reporting (Chapter 284 of 2005)

More Americans die each year from hospital-acquired infections than from auto accidents and homicides combined. Under this law, hospitals will be required to report infections acquired by patients. Increased reporting will help identify medical errors and enhance patient safety, thus saving lives and bringing down the costs of health care.

photo
Assemblyman Englebright worked with AARP local reps Thelma and Bill Hall of Old Field to pass the Prescription Internet Act.
Helping You to Shop for Prescription Drugs For Less (Chapter 293 of 2005)

To help consumers - especially seniors - get their prescription drugs for less, Assemblyman Englebright sponsored the new law that requires that updated drug retail price lists from area pharmacies be posted in a database on the website of the State Board of Pharmacy. As there is often a large difference in prescription drug prices from retailer to retailer - sometimes in excess of $50 per prescription - the measure could potentially save the informed consumer hundreds of dollars per month.

School Accountability (Chapters 267 and 263 of 2005)

The financial misdeeds that were discovered in school districts on Long Island have brought about a crisis in confidence in the integrity of our public education system. This year the legislature passed two laws that require schools to be more fiscally accountable.

The first law (Ch. 267 of 2005) requires that every school district be audited by the State Comptroller (OSC) at least once by March 31, 2010. After that date, schools will be audited based on an OSC audit plan and risk assessment process that will assess and evaluate financial practices. Any findings of fraud or abuse will be reported to the Commissioner of Education, and state and federal prosecutors. The law would also require schools to make the final OSC audit available to the public.

The second measure (Ch. 263 of 2005) will further increase the oversight of schools throughout the state. The law:

  • requires school board members to be trained on their financial oversight responsibilities;

  • requires school districts and BOCES to establish an internal audit function;

  • requires audit committees in school districts;

  • mandates that school districts select an external auditor through a competitive request for proposals process;

  • establishes a five-year engagement limitation on contracts between a school district and the external auditor; and

  • improves annual external audits by requiring direct school board involvement.

VaSean’s Law (Chapter 39 of 2005)

VaSean’s Law was named in memory of 11-year-old VaSean Alleyne, the victim of a drunk driver who could not be charged with a felony under current law. VaSean’s Law will strengthen provisions of the current law to make it easier for District Attorneys to prosecute drivers for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter when serious physical injury or death is caused by a person driving a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by the use of a drug. Under terms of this legislation existing state law would be improved by removing the element of criminal negligence now required to prosecute crimes of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter. The measure would provide that a person who drives while intoxicated and kills or seriously injures another person because of that intoxication would be guilty of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault. The bill would also create a statutory presumption that any driver who kills or injures another while drunk is guilty of a felony.




2005 Budget Highlights

Health Care

As a member of the Health/Aging Joint Budget Subcommittee Assemblyman Englebright helped to negotiate a budget agreement that ensures New Yorkers’ access to quality, affordable health care while easing the burden on local taxpayers.

These included:

  • Rejecting the Governor’s "sick tax" on nursing;

  • Rejecting the Governor’s proposed cuts to hospitals, nursing homes, home care;

  • Increasing efforts to collect $20 million in rebates owed the state by pharmaceutical companies;

  • Creating a preferred drug list that protects consumers by giving physicians the final say in prescribing medicine;

  • Creating a cap on the growth of local Medicaid costs to save Suffolk taxpayers over $200 million over the next 4 years.

photo Assemblyman Englebright with Drs. Ruth and Larry Jacobs at the last session of "Eating Right for Cancer Survival" cooking and health class at the Setauket Neighborhood House.
This summer, Drs. Ruth and Larry Jacobs joined with Assemblyman Englebright’s office and the Carol Baldwin Research Foundation to run an eight-week cooking and health class on "Eating Right for Cancer Survival" sponsored by The Cancer Project. The Cancer Project is a collaborative effort of physicians, researchers and nutritionists who have joined together to educate the public on how a healthy diet can help protect us from cancer and help us regain our health once cancer has been diagnosed. Drs. Ruth and Larry Jacobs volunteered their time to teach the course, which was attended by over 45 participants and held at the Setauket Neighborhood House. Those interested in attending future classes can call Assemblyman Englebright’s office at 751-3094.
Prescription Drugs

Assemblyman Englebright also fought to ensure that the New York’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) remains strong and independent of the Medicare Part d prescription drug program. Should individuals opt first for Medicare Part D, EPIC will remain an option to help fill in the large "doughnut hole" or period where the individual is not covered under the Medicare Part D Plan. EPIC will still remain as a stand alone program should an older adult not choose a Medicare Part D Plan.

Strengthening Programs to Help Older New Yorkers

As the baby boomer generation becomes the senior boomer generation, Assemblyman Englebright, Chair of the Committee on Aging, has been advocating for strengthening the programs that support the independence of older New Yorkers. However, for the last four years the fight was to keep important existing programs from being drastically cut or eliminated. This budget year, Assemblyman Englebright’s advocacy resulted in increases in program funding for the following programs:

  • Home delivered meals - $1 million

  • Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) - $1.2 million

  • Green Thumb Program - $360,000

  • Expanded in-home services for the elderly program (EISEP) - $10 million this year, $15 million commitment for next year

  • Access to Home program - $10 million - to help persons of all ages with disabilities make home modifications that will help them remain independent

  • Long Term Care Reform -$2.2 million in funding for the New York Answers program to develop a single access point for long-term care.

Education

One of the most important jobs of a state legislator is to advocate for state aid for our schools to ensure that students have an opportunity to achieve greater academic success while keeping a check on the rise of school property taxes. The year 2005-06 spending plan provides over $848 million more in funding to public schools than last year - approximately $354 million more than the Governor proposed. The Legislature restored the Governor’s cuts for various expense-based aids, funds that local schools already spent in anticipation of state reimbursement, including educating students with disabilities.

The governor had proposed a cut in state school aid for our assembly district. Assemblyman Englebright’s work during the budget process helped school districts within the 4th Assembly District see an increase of $3,731,567 in school aid over the year 2004. That is an increase of $4,575,728 over what the Governor proposed.

Protecting Access to a College Education

As a member the Higher Education Committee, Assemblyman Englebright worked to protect access to a college education by rejecting the Governor’s severe cuts to financial aid, costly tuition increases and a plan to make tuition increases automatic. Especially significant was the legislature’s rejection of the Governor’s proposed fifty percent cut in TAP Tuition Assistance Program as well as a proposal that would penalize TAP-eligible students who take 5 years to graduate.




Senior Citizen Law Day -
SAVE THE DATE

On Saturday, October 8, a special community event, Senior Citizen Law Day-2005, will be presented by Assemblyman Steve Englebright, the Long Island State Veterans Home and the Suffolk County Bar Association.

This event is being offered free of charge and is an excellent opportunity to learn about relevant legal information that will enable you and your family members to better plan for the future.

Throughout the day, elder law attorneys, health care professionals, and other elder experts from our area will provide objective and reliable informational sessions on topics including wills, trusts, long term care insurance, identity theft, health care proxys, choosing a nursing home and Medicare Part D.

Everyone in attendance will go home with a bound booklet containing the useful information presented during the educational sessions.

To register for this free day-long event, call Assemblyman Englebright’s office at 751-3094.




Contact
Assemblyman Englebright’s Office:

149 Main Street
East Setauket, NY 11733
(631) 751-3094

E-mail:



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