I am proud to be your new representative in the New York State Assembly. Since my inauguration, I have been working on many issues that affect our community on both the state and local levels. This newsletter highlights some of the actions I have been taking to make sure that Northeast Queens gets its fair share of government resources and remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
In addition, I want you to know that my office is here to help you. If you are having trouble dealing with state and local government agencies, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. My staff and I are always available to help you with: obtaining benefits, government forms or applications; providing information on programs such as EPIC and HEAP; answering questions about government issues; and developing legislative solutions to community problems.
Finally, I want to invite you to attend my District Office Open House on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 11am at 213-33 39th Avenue, Suite 238 in Bayside. I will discuss important topics such as the state budget, education and seniors issues. This will also give me an opportunity to meet with you and learn about any other issues that may be of concern to you.
Edward C. Braunstein
Assemblyman Braunstein recently introduced new legislation (A.4769-A) which would ban the sale, manufacturing, possession, and distribution of so-called “bath salts” in New York State. These “bath salts,” which are smoked, snorted or injected, are actually a dangerous series of chemicals similar to methamphetamines, which cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, hypertension, chest pain, headaches, heart attack, stroke, and suicidal thoughts.
These dangerous “bath salts,” which have been labeled a drug of concern by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, are sold online and in convenience stores and smoke shops under many different names. These “bath salts” are not the same as aromatic bath salts. Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed to Assemblyman Braunstein that none of the products they sell contain any of the dangerous chemicals that his legislation would ban.
This issue came to Assemblyman Braunstein’s attention in January when he read reports about violent incidents taking place in several Southern states which were committed by people having hallucinations after using “bath salts.” One incident took place in Louisiana, when a 21-year-old man cut his throat and shot himself to death. And in Mississippi, a tragedy occurred when a sheriff’s deputy was murdered by a man allegedly under the influence of “bath salts.” Additionally, a young woman was recently murdered in New Jersey by someone allegedly under the influence of “bath salts.”
“My legislation would ban these dangerous chemicals before the problem becomes widespread in New York. I look forward to working together with my colleagues to pass my legislation which would protect all New Yorkers from the scourge of these dangerous meth-like drugs,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.
Assemblyman Braunstein is also working with State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky to introduce legislation to change our tax system to treat co-op owners more equitably.
“The EPIC program currently provides over 300,000 enrollees with secondary coverage for prescription drug costs. Our proposal restores funding to ensure no program benefits are eliminated.
“We reject the governor’s plan to force all EPIC participants, regardless of financial hardship, to join a Medicare Part D drug plan. Our proposal also continues the vital ‘wraparound’ coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles. Eliminating this aid could cost seniors up to $1,000 or more annually.
“Many older New Yorkers are on fixed incomes, making any reductions to EPIC especially disastrous. We can’t put seniors in a position where they must choose between putting food on the table and getting the medicine they need. Restoring EPIC funding in our budget ensures that seniors receive the support they need during these difficult times.”
“Closing senior centers would dramatically impact the lives of so many in the elderly community. We can’t balance the state budget by cutting services to vulnerable citizens during this economic downturn. We must protect those who have made lifelong contributions to our communities and continue providing them the services they need and deserve,” said Assemblyman Braunstein.
“That’s why I voted in favor of the Assembly budget that rejects the plan to strip $36 million in Title XX discretionary funding from senior centers – potentially forcing 105 centers to close their doors, including Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center in Bay Terrace. In order to eliminate the state’s $10 billion deficit, difficult decisions have to be made, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of seniors in Northeast Queens.
“Our proposal allows New York City to continue using the discretionary funding to support local senior centers and keep them open. This will ensure that thousands of seniors won’t lose essential services provided by the centers, including nutritious meals, health and wellness activities and socialization.”
Northeast Queens Photo Contest
The Northeast Queens Photo Contest is open to students in grades six through twelve. Photos may be in color or in black and white and taken in the last three years. The photo subject must be relevant to and identified as Northeast Queens. Matted prints (5x7 or 8x10) must be submitted with a completed entry form by Monday, April 11, 2011. To receive an entry form, please contact Assemblyman Braunstein’s office at 718-357-3588.
Mother’s Day Essay and Poetry Contest
The Mother’s Day Essay and Poetry Contest is open to students in grades one to five. Submissions may be of any length and should be based on the theme of “Why My Mother Is So Special To Me.” The deadline to enter the contest is Monday, May 9, 2011.
Prize winners will be selected for both contests and New York State Assembly Certificates of Merit will be presented to everyone who participates. Please submit entries to Assemblyman Braunstein’s district office at 213-33 39th Avenue, Suite 238, Bayside, NY 11361.