Like many states, New York is struggling with sobering financial realities. Attempting to fill a $9.2 billion dollar deficit during a difficult economy with high unemployment and falling revenues has proven to be a daunting task during this legislative session. I have voted for many budget reductions that were difficult and painful. However, I did not support certain cuts proposed by the Governor that were simply unwise.
As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks, and Sports Development, much of the fight to save State Parks and funding for NYSCA has fallen on my shoulders. As it turned out, the Governor’s decision to close half of the state park system became the opening clash of a very confrontational budget season.
We all know that state parks and historic sites are important economic generators for our tourism industry, but they are much more. They are institutions of optimism that offer reassurance in a time of fear and uncertainty. I believe that it is imperative that we, as stewards of the people’s assets, protect and preserve these public recreational, cultural, and economic treasures, and enable them to be open and accessible during times when they are needed most.
I found it peculiar that out of a $135 billion dollar budget the Governor determined that his first priority was to supposedly save $11 million dollars by closing almost one half of the state park system. It is incontrovertible that State Parks are integral to one of our State’s largest economic drivers: the tourism industry. When spring attendance figures from the various regions of the park system showed increases of between 17 and 30%, the Governor’s proposed cuts to this agency appeared particularly ill considered. This policy debate was finally settled as we neared the Memorial Day weekend, when the efforts of my colleagues and I enabled restorations sufficient to keep all of our state parks open.
In June the Assembly voted for a balanced budget and took final action on a number of important non-budget measures. Now with similar closure in the Senate, it is good to be back on Long Island where I can more directly contribute to advancing many local issues. As always, if either I or my capable staff can be of assistance to you please do not hesitate to call my district office at (631) 751-3094.
Member of Assembly
Schools and Daycare Centers (Chapter 85 of 2010)
Every year large amounts of chemical pesticides are routinely applied without specific demonstrated need to many of the school fields and lawns where our kids engage in sports. Children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticide exposure due to their incomplete immune systems and rapid growth. Assemblyman Englebright, a scientist by training, has long been concerned about the potential risks for children who by merely playing may needlessly be poisoned by compounds that have the potential to cause cancer or other illness. Like many important laws this initiative took the combined effort of many experts and advocates to perfect and pass. Upon being introduced in 2009 this bill – which was co-sponsored by Senator Brian Foley – went through numerous refinements and became a high priority for groups such as the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. The Governor signed this measure into law on May 18, 2010.
Most pests and weeds can be successfully managed with safer and less costly nontoxic alternatives. That is why Englebright determinedly pursued this ban on the application of toxic pesticides for aesthetic purposes from our schoolyards, playgrounds, and day care centers. With passage this year of the Safe Playing Fields Act, our children will now enjoy a healthier school environment in which to learn and achieve.
Parks are also good for our economy. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute documented that the NY State Parks system generates $1.9 billion in economic activity every year. That includes $440 million in employment income, and 20,000 jobs. Clearly, the impact of the State Park System on New York’s economy is sizeable; the benefits exceed the direct costs of maintaining the state parks many times over. This study quantified that the benefit-to-cost ratio of park and historic site economic activity in our state is more than 5-to-1—more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.
Children and Babies Act Passes
The evidence is increasingly clear that the synthetic hormone, bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is implicated in a wide range of child and adult health problems. This important Englebright initiative (Chapter 280 of the Laws of 2010) will prohibit the sale of any child care product containing BPA, including baby bottles, baby bottle liners and cups, cup lids, pacifiers, teethers, and sippy cups.
BPA is used as a hardener in the production of epoxy resins and clear polycarbonate plastics. It is an estrogen-mimicking, endocrine-disrupting chemical that is linked to early onset of puberty, insulin resistance, obesity, and changes in prostate and mammary gland development. For babies and adolescents, the ingestion of BPA can lead to greater susceptibility to breast and other cancers later in life.
Extremely widespread, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that BPA has been found in 93% of surveyed Americans. This chemical is of particular concern for infants and children who have poor ability to metabolize BPA and whose developing bodies can be affected by the endocrine-disruption properties of BPA. Research studies have found that babies have up to eleven times higher levels of BPA in their bodies than do adults because of greater exposure and reduced capacity to metabolize BPA.
In March, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a number of actions to address the potential effects of BPA, including the addition of BPA to its list of chemicals of concern and requiring testing related to environmental effects. Englebright’s bill, which was signed into law by the Governor on July 30, 2010, is an important first step to remove bisphenol A from products used by our most vulnerable residents-- infants and toddlers.
On July 6, 2010, Assemblyman Englebright met with four practicing nurses who are now doctoral candidates in the program of Doctorate in Nursing Practice at Stony Brook University to discuss special projects that each are pursuing as part of their studies. From left to right, are Marie Frazitta, Kathleen Dhundale, Assemblyman Englebright, Jane Corrarino, and Joan Nathan.
A prohibition on the use of automated ticket purchasing software which presently is used by unscrupulous speculators to purchase tickets at initial sale ahead of consumers intending to attend an event;
Prohibits an operator’s agent from selling or conveying tickets to any secondary ticket reseller owned or controlled by the operator’s agent;
Provides new consumer protections on the private market by prohibiting venue operators and their agents from using paperless ticketing systems that do not allow consumers to transfer their tickets independently unless the consumer is provided a choice of purchasing independently transferable tickets in another form;
Requires disclosure to the consumer whether a seat has an obstructed view;
Provides that twice annually every licensee that resells tickets will report to the Consumer Protection Board on the number and resale price of all tickets sold to an event;
Makes permanent buffer zones outside venues where tickets cannot be resold.
Assemblyman Englebright sponsored new law (Chapter 151 of the Laws of 2010) that significantly enhances and extends for one year Article 25 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, which regulates the resale of tickets to places of entertainment such as concerts, theaters, and professional sporting events.
Empire Zone Program
With our State’s economy and the Long Island community struggling through this recession, now is not the time to cut by 90% the state’s main economic development tool: the Empire Zone Program. That’s why Assemblyman Englebright voted against the budget bill that would replace the Empire Zone Program with a “watered down” version of only $50 million available annually.
Assemblyman Englebright stated that, “New jobs created through economic growth must be part of the solution to addressing New York’s long term fiscal problems and we need to have continuity in our economic development programs in order to re-establish and maintain credibility with the business community.” That’s why Englebright believes that the Empire Zone program should be extended in a manner that simplifies and reduces costly bureaucracy, and enables its function as a powerful tool to create jobs and attract investment.
Any New York State economic development program needs to be competitive with surrounding states in order for it to attract private investment and create jobs. Englebright has pledged to work toward reinstating this important jobs program because “during these difficult economic times we cannot afford to sacrifice the economic interests of our region.”
prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow
When most Middle Country High School students are ending their school day, about 100 young people who have just left day jobs are beginning their school day at the Middle Country High School Business Services Career Academy. These students are part of an innovative educational method tied to real careers and real companies on Long Island. Assemblyman Englebright believes that this is a model program.
The Long Island Works Coalition has partnered with the Middle Country School District to develop this alternative learning Career Academy that teaches basic academics such as math, science, and English in the context of careers in various industries. Long Island Works Coalition establishes partnerships between the academic and business communities to foster the development of a skilled and educated workforce. This program achieves success where traditional learning often comes up short by creating an environment that empowers students to meet the demands of both the 21st century and the Long Island region’s workforce needs.
A large part of ending the devastation caused by drunk drivers is to make sure that prosecutors and law enforcement have the tools they need to successfully prosecute offenders.
That is why Assemblyman Englebright co-sponsored a bill (Chapter 169 the Laws of 2010) to help close a loophole that has allowed intoxicated drivers involved in accidents to escape prosecution. This new law removes the requirement that a physician must supervise the withdrawal of blood from a drunk driver. Previously, if a police officer requests that trained medical personnel draw blood to test for intoxication after a collision this evidence is suppressed unless a physician is present. This means that charges against drunk drivers who have caused injuries and even death have been reduced or dismissed.
This legislation is named for Jack Shea, an Olympic gold medalist who was killed in 2002, in a collision with an alleged drunk driver. Even though the driver consented to a blood test, the district attorney could not present proof of the driver’s blood alcohol level because no doctor was on duty to supervise the drawing of the blood.
This new law will allow for more positive blood test results in cases of alleged drunk driving crashes to be admissible in court. As a result, fewer DWI offenders will be able to get off on a technicality.
Assemblyman Englebright’s Office Provides
Free Notary Public Service
Weekdays 9 am – 5 pm
149 Main St., Setauket, NY 11733