Legislative Update
Steve Englebright
Reports to the people of the 4th Assembly District
149 Main St. Setauket, NY 11733
(631) 751-3094 •

Assemblyman Steve Englebright
Dear Neighbor,

This year’s legislative session signaled an especially positive direction for our state. For example, we passed legislation to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault and enacted landmark laws to toughen drunk driving penalties. In another major accomplishment, we passed a law to triple the size of the state’s criminal DNA database. This newsletter highlights these measures and more. I hope that you will take a moment to look through it.

The bipartisan budget that was crafted will provide our schools with a record increase in aid. It also helps advance the mission and quality of New York’s institutions of optimism—our hospitals, libraries, colleges and universities. Similarly, for the second year in a row we achieved an on-time budget and passed important legislation that will cut taxes, give property tax relief, and make our neighborhoods safer.

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.

Steve Englebright

Among the highlights of the 2006 Legislative Session are several significant measures that protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.

New York to have most extensive criminal DNA database in U.S.
(Chapter 2 of 2006)

New York State’s criminal DNA database will now include all persons convicted of felonies and serious misdemeanors. The wide range of misdemeanor convictions to be added to the database by this measure include those that involve violence, threats of violence, menacing or stalking behavior, or offenses against children.

Also included are critical reforms prohibiting DNA samples from persons who have never been convicted of any crime from being kept in impromptu local databases which currently operate in a number of jurisdictions without statutory authorization.

Statute of limitations on rape eliminated
(Chapter 3 of 2006)

This landmark measure eliminates the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of Class B felony sexual assault crimes including: first degree rape, first degree criminal sexual act, first degree aggravated sexual abuse, and first degree course of sexual conduct against a child. This legislation also extends the civil statute of limitations from one to five years.

Individuals who are sexually assaulted suffer long-lasting impacts on their lives. The shame and embarrassment experienced by many victims may prevent her/him from promptly reporting the incident. Often, victims are incapable of pursuing criminal action against their perpetrators for several years, even if they have received a medical forensic examination.

Additionally, the advent of DNA and other forensic technology has made it possible to identify a perpetrator long after a crime has been committed. It is time for state penal codes to catch up with the current advances in the use of DNA and other technological advances that make the prosecution of sexual assaults possible long after the statute of limitations has expired.

Making our Waterways Safer
Assemblyman Englebright joined with Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli and Senator John Flanagan to advocate for passage of legislation (Chapter 151 of 2006) that would bring the penalties for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) up to the level of penalties faced by those convicted of drunk driving. This new law went into effect on August 6, 2006.

Sweeping DWI legislation targets repeat offenders

This legislation comprehensively updates New York’s antiquated vehicular homicide and assault provisions, adding four new elements – called aggravating factors.

As a result, a person who drives drunk and causes a fatality or serious physical injury to another person would be charged with a higher felony if he or she also:

  • causes serious physical injury or the death of more than one other person;

  • has two or more convictions within the previous five years, or three or more convictions within the previous 10 years for a DWI or DWAI;

  • has been previously convicted of a homicide or assault involving the operation of a motor vehicle; or

  • has a BAC of .18 percent or more.

Passed Both Houses—Awaiting Governor’s Signature.

Protecting Children’s Environmental Health and Safety – (A.6905-A Englebright)

Children are not just small adults. They are vulnerable to environmental pollutants and hazards because of their size and developing body systems. However, environmental and public health laws and safety standards have lagged behind our growing understanding of the special susceptibility of children and mechanisms by which exposures affect children.

Assemblyman Englebright’s legislation establishes an advisory council which will include physicians and scientists with experience in children’s environmental health, school facilities directors, teachers, parents and children’s health advocates.

In consultation with the Commissioners of the Departments of Health, Environmental Conservation, and Education, the council will establish criteria and recommendations for evaluating the impact of each agency’s regulations and standards on children’s health and safety. The report and recommendations will enable our state to take steps to close gaps in the protection of children from environmental health hazards. Passed Both Houses—Delivered to Governor.

Are you eligible for unclaimed funds?

State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi holds over $7 billion dollars in unclaimed funds that he wants to return to rightful owners. Some of it may be yours! Banks, insurance companies, utilities, investment companies and many other businesses are required by state law to surrender inactive accounts to the state. The State Comptroller serves as custodian of this money and wants to help you claim what is rightfully yours. You can visit the website (www.osc.state.ny.us) to find out if they have money that belongs to you. Once you provide proof of ownership, they will return your money to you. The service is free; you do not have to pay anything to get your money back. Call Assemblyman Englebright’s office at 751-3094 with any questions.

“Protecting Our Heritage is an Urgent Priority”

– Assemblyman Steve Englebright

Tourism is the largest non-agricultural industry in New York. Yet, our state too often fails to protect the “magnets” of our remarkable heritage. Assemblyman Englebright believes that “we need to do more to honor New York’s legacy, utilize it to reinforce our tourism economy, and preserve our state’s rightful place in history.” This year Englebright was especially active in historic preservation, including helping to pass a new tax credit for preserving historic structures (A.11987) which awaits the Governor’s signature. Other recent examples of Englebright’s deep commitment to investing into the protection of our state’s unique and important heritage are the two initiatives described below.

Portrait of President George Washington
Englebright Brings George Washington Spy Letter to Long Island

There are few historic documents that tell the story of the critical role that patriots in our area played in the Revolutionary War. So when Assemblyman Englebright learned of the impending auction of an extraordinarily revealing 1779 letter that General George Washington sent from his headquarters at West Point to his chief of espionage Major Benjamin Tallmadge of Setauket, he worked to enable public ownership. Englebright successfully brought together interested individuals and institutions to purchase the letter, bring it to Long Island, and make it a centerpiece of the Stony Brook University Library’s Special Collections. With strong leadership from Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny and modern patriot Henry Laufer of Setauket, Englebright helped bring together Stony Brook University, the Three Village Historical Society and the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay to acquire this artifact. At Dr. Laufer’s request, this important document will forever be cooperatively interpreted to the general public and made available for public viewing and educational use.

Stony Brook University—which now owns the letter—has ordered a secure display case so that schoolchildren and adults can view this insightful and inspiring document that is an open window into our understanding of how courageous Long Islanders played a pivotal role in the birth of our nation.

Preserving one of New York’s most important Revolutionary War sites

The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October of 1777 was the turning point of the Revolution. Because of the British surrender at Saratoga our ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin, was able to forge the alliance that brought France’s great military might and money into the war on the American side. If this surrender had not taken place the colonial revolt would have been put down and the American experiment with democracy ended.

When Assemblyman Englebright discovered a “For Sale” sign on the 18-acre farm near Schuylerville where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Horatio Gates, Commander of the American forces at the Battle of Saratoga, he immediately called upon other Assemblymembers to help protect this singularly important historic site from subdivision, development, and sprawl.

Key legislators who joined this initiative included Assemblyman Roy J. McDonald (R- Saratoga), Jack McEneny (D-Albany), Joe Morelle (D-Rochester), Pete Grannis (D-Manhattan), and Senator Joseph L. Bruno (R-Brunswick). In the Assembly, Englebright, McDonald, and Morelle spearheaded an allocation of $350,000 in the 2006 budget to acquire the Burgoyne surrender site. “Almost losing Washington’s spy letter and the Battle of Saratoga Surrender Site to uncertain private interests illustrates the tenuous nature of contemporary efforts to preserve for public use the important evidences of our nation’s beginnings,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “We need to preserve New York’s history because it deepens connections to our communities and reinforces our state and national identity.”

The Surrender of British General John Burgoyne at what is now Schuylerville in Saratoga County, New York on October 17, 1777 as painted by John Trumbull in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Property Tax Relief Signed into Law

Assemblyman Englebright joined with other local elected officials in Smithtown as the Governor signed into law the property tax rebate legislation that will relieve some of our local tax burden.
2006 Budget Highlights

The New York State Legislature passed an on-time, bipartisan budget for 2006-2007 that used the conference committee process to publicly negotiate the budget. The Governor, who did not participate in the process, subsequently vetoed portions of the budget. The Legislature then voted to override the Governor’s vetoes.

Among the budget items Assemblyman Englebright fought for that will take effect are:

  • an increase of $6 million in state aid for 4th Assembly District schools over and above the Governor’s proposal;

  • a property tax rebate of approximately $250 for homeowners who receive Basic STAR and $400 for seniors who receive Enhanced STAR:

  • a child tax credit up to $330 for each child ages 4 to 17;

  • elimination of the marriage tax penalty saving married couples $41 million annually;

  • elimination of the state sales tax on clothing for purchases under $110;

  • full funding of the Environmental Protection Fund at $225 million;

  • elimination of the one dollar monthly MTA maintenance charge on EZ-Pass accounts;

  • additional funding for libraries;

  • restoration of the Respite Program which helps caregivers by giving them a break from the demanding job of caring for an elderly family member;

  • restoration of funding for the college Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), new capital funding for SUNY campuses, rejection of the proposed SUNY tuition increase, and new funding to strengthen SUNY academic programs; and

  • restoration of more than $490 million to hospitals, nursing homes, and home care sites to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality, affordable health care in their community.

Assemblyman Englebright joined with Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, Sara Anker of the Community Health and Environment Coalition and other clean energy and public health advocates to call for the repowering of Keyspan’s Northport and Port Jefferson plants - two of the most polluting plants in the Northeast. Repowering would double energy capacity, reduce toxic emissions that contribute to asthma, lung disease and other health-related diseases, decrease greenhouse gases, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.