End of Year
This year’s legislative session ushered in a variety of positive initiatives for our community and state. For example, we passed legislation to protect college students and parents from exploitation by the student loan industry, colleges and universities, as well as enacted a new law to protect children from Internet predators. This newsletter highlights these measures and more. I hope that you take a moment to look through it.
The 2007 bipartisan budget passed earlier this year contains $1.3 billion in property tax relief for middle class homeowners. The final state budget helps advance the mission and quality of New York’s institutions of optimism—our schools, hospitals, libraries, colleges and universities.
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.
The following Englebright measures became law this year:
Breast cancer survivors to be members of Health Science Research Board (Chapter 621 of 2007). This new law creates a stronger, more meaningful voice for those who have or have had breast cancer by restructuring the Health Research Science Board (HRSB) to include three voting and three non-voting members who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer, and who represent grassroots breast cancer organizations throughout New York. The HRSB will make recommendations to the Commissioner of Health about research and education grants from the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund.
Breast cancer activists in our state took the initiative to create and successfully promote this important research and education funding program in 1996. This new chapter formalizes an avenue for their continued input and advocacy. The bill also ensures geographic distribution of these new voting members to reflect local and regional priorities.
Increasing Funding for Breast Cancer Research (Chapter 385 of 2007). In 2000, the Legislature enacted an Englebright law that required New York State to match funding coming into the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund. Inadvertently, the matching requirement did not apply to any gift, bequest or grant that the fund receives. Only the breast cancer income tax check-off proceeds and sales of the breast cancer license plate were matched by the state in 2001. This bill corrects the law to provide that all funds coming into the fund, including gifts, bequests and grants will be matched by the state. This should provide additional critical funding for innovative breast cancer research and education projects to be supported by the fund.
Early Identification of Alzheimer’s disease (Chapter 290 of 2007). An estimated 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. adult population age 65 and older is affected by a dementia disorder, and incidence doubles every 5 years after age 65. The earlier that Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, the greater the gain in managing symptoms and developing a plan of care and treatment. Assemblyman Englebright’s new initiative will help to identify early stages of Alzheimer’s disease during admittance or discharge from the hospital.
Removing Barriers to Residential Alternative Energy Use (Chapter 153 of Laws of 2007). This new Englebright law prohibits the imposition of a LIPA exit fee should a residential customer chose to terminate service to switch to an eco-friendly power source such as solar, wind or fuel cell.
Protecting Middle Class Families from Student Loan Exploitation (Chapter 41 of the Laws of 2007). Going to college is challenging enough. Students and parents should not have to fear being exploited when they take out student loans. This new law establishes protections for students and parents from exploitation by the student loan industry and institutions of higher learning which, with alarming frequency, have steered borrowers into student loans laden with conflicts of interest. Further, this legislation creates an account to be used for purposes of educating borrowers concerning the student loan process and reimbursing victims of inflated student loans.
This new law provides a code of conduct for lenders and institutions of higher learning that will help put an end to the deceptive and misleading practices uncovered earlier this year by the NYS Attorney General’s Office. It also establishes strict rules and standards, coupled with tough penalties for those who violate them.
New Law Protects Children from Internet Predators (Chapter 8 of the Laws of 2007). The rise in the use of the Internet has led to a dramatic increase in use of computers in sex crimes against children. This new law strengthens the prohibition against using the Internet to lure children for sexual activity by ensuring that graphic written text transmitted over the Internet to a child falls within the purview of the statute relating to indecent material. Previously, a loophole existed that banned only transmitting sexually graphic images to a child. This measure makes soliciting minors with sexually explicit text on the Internet a Class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
Englebright supported laws to protect the environment
Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) (Chapter 258 of the Laws of 2007). This new law increases the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $300 million and provides substantial funding increases to Open Space Acquisition, Farmland Protection, Non-point Water Pollution Control, Municipal Recycling, Pollution Prevention, State Lands Stewardship, Local Waterfront Revitalization, and Urban, Suburban and Rural Parks and Historic Preservation.
This measure permanently addresses the ongoing shortfall in environmental funding by both increasing the portion of the state Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) that is dedicated to the EPF and providing a mechanism to ensure that any future growth in RETT revenues driven by development is rightfully dedicated to the preservation of the environment.
Global Warming Index Label on Automobiles (Chapter 466 of 2007). This new law will allow consumers to consider a new vehicle’s carbon emissions at the point of purchase by requiring a “global warming index” to be added to the fuel efficiency label.Englebright initiatives
Tax Incentives for the Purchase of Hybrid and High-efficiency Vehicles (A.7626A – Englebright). This legislation, when passed into law, will eliminate the state sales tax on the purchase of new and used hybrid vehicles and vehicles with a highway fuel economy estimate of 35 miles per gallon or more. In addition, the legislation enables New York City and county governments to eliminate their local sales tax on these vehicles.
By purchasing hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles, New Yorkers around the state can do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Single-occupant hybrid vehicles are allowed use of the High Occupancy Vehicle lane (HOV) on the LI Expressway under the Clean Pass Program.
New Englebright bill to study artificial turf safety (A.9503- Englebright). This new Englebright legislation places a limited (6 month) moratorium on the installation of synthetic turf until scientific studies can examine the potential adverse effect associated with certain uses and venues. The bill would also require that any installation of artificial turf trigger a site-specific environmental assessment under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
The fill in synthetic turf is crumb rubber, a product derived from ground-up waste tires. Concerns arising from the use of this material include health impacts such as inhalation and skin exposure, as well as soil and groundwater contamination.
“Before we take risks with our children’s health and drinking water quality, we need to make sure that the uncertainties that may be associated with the many artificial turf playing fields and playgrounds that are being installed are fully investigated,” says Assemblyman Englebright. “Synthetic turf has been found to contain hazardous contaminants, including lead, arsenic, cadmium and chromium, and may not be an appropriate replacement for natural and other materials in all settings.”
Highlights of the SFY
Fighting for our fair share of school aid. This year’s final state budget makes an historic investment in our schools to help students succeed in an ever-changing global economy. Assemblyman Englebright fought alongside his Long Island colleagues to ensure that our suburban schools received our fair share of aid to provide their children with a solid education and to hold the line on property taxes. Suffolk County schools saw more than $126 million in aid over 2006, an estimated 8.5 percent increase. For schools in the 4th Assembly District, schools will receive more than $16.5 million over 2006.
Protecting Suffolk hospitals and nursing homes. Governor Spitzer laid out a plan to transform New York’s health care system by putting the focus on patients—where it belongs. His proposed cuts, however, jeopardized local health care and reduced funding for Suffolk hospitals by $19.7 million and nursing homes by $38.5 million.
Assemblyman Englebright worked with the governor to restore a significant level of state aid to our local hospitals and nursing homes, ensuring patients come first. The final budget restores:
The budget also eliminates the “sick tax”—a tax on hospital receipts that simply ends up being paid by patients.
Helping keep SUNY Schools Strong and Competitive. Like the steel and manufacturing industries during the 1900’s, universities fuel the regional economic engines of the 21st century. The future of New York’s economic vitality depends on education and knowledge.
That’s why the state budget makes a significant investment in New York’s higher education system and provides college students with the resources they need to succeed. The budget increases operating aid for SUNY/CUNY and community colleges, does not raise tuition at these institutions, and continues to fund the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and higher education opportunity programs. The budget provides $62 million more than the governor proposed for higher education, and $278.5 million more than last year.
To help stave off tuition increases or local property tax hikes, the budget also increases state support for community colleges by $150 per full-time equivalent student over last year. Statewide, SUNY community colleges will receive $8.16 million over the governor’s budget and $24.4 million over last year.
Assemblyman Steve Englebright
149 Main Street • Setauket, NY 11733 • (631) 751-3094 • firstname.lastname@example.org