Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi Assemblyman
Reports to the People
Summer 2008

Hevesi Passes Bill to Reduce Fuel
consumption for the average driver

photo Assemblyman Hevesi explaining his vote on A.10262.
Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) approached Assemblyman Hevesi with an idea that resulted in Assembly bill A.10262-A which would establish a replacement tire energy efficiency program for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. After several rounds of negotiations with the NRDC and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a bill emerged that was introduced by Assemblyman Hevesi and by Senator Serf Maltese. A.10262 passed the Assembly on June 19th, and made it to the floor of the Senate but was not acted upon before the close of this year’s session.

This bill mandates the creation of a replacement tire energy efficiency program in an effort to curb fuel consumption, minimize carbon emissions, and reduce costs for drivers in New York State. Energy efficient tires perform better in terms of fuel economy by minimizing rolling resistance (friction on the road), which is defined as the measure of the amount of energy needed to move a tire. The higher the rolling resistance, the more gas a car consumes. By reducing the rolling resistance levels, the widespread use of energy efficient tires will allow New York State consumers to save money by using less gas.

Under federal law, auto makers are required to equip new cars with low-rolling resistance tires. There are no such fuel efficiency standards for replacement tires in New York State. Michelin, in comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, estimated that the rolling resistance of replacement tires is, on average, 22% higher than that of original equipment tires. Although some fuel efficient tires are already available on the replacement tire market in New York, consumers have no way to discern which tires are energy efficient and which are not.

Assemblyman Hevesi’s bill addresses this problem by directing the DEC to create a tire efficiency program analogous to the ENERGY STAR program for household appliances. The DEC will create and maintain a database of the rolling resistance and energy efficiency measurements of a representative sample of replacement tires sold in the state. They will also create a rating system which will enable consumers to make more informed decisions when purchasing tires through point of sale information or signs. The standards adopted by the department will not adversely affect tire safety, the average life of the replacement tire, or the effective management of scrap tires in New York State.

The energy efficiency standards created by the DEC will give New Yorkers more information to make choices about replacement tire purchases, which will save consumers money over the life of each tire, decrease demand for imported oil, and reduce emissions of greenhouse and smog forming gases.

The implementation of this legislation is expected to save New Yorkers money at the pump by increasing fuel efficiency. The bill is now awaiting Senate’s passage and movement to the governor for his signature.

Assemblyman Hevesi’s Legislation Prompts Rule Change at Long Island Railroad

In an effort to reduce the noise pollution in our neighborhoods caused by the Long Island Railroad’s (LIRR) frequent horn honking, Assemblyman Hevesi introduced legislation (A.9693) to create a quiet zone in the county of Queens. Prior to the summer of 2007, the Long Island Railroad did not consistently blow train horns in each station as the trains passed through Queens. However, in late 2007, the railroad began a policy of requiring trains honk their horns at every station to comply with rules changes on use of locomotive horns by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The railroad believed that it needed to respond to a 2005 FRA ruling on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. This rule required that locomotive horns be sounded as a warning to highway users at public highway-rail crossings and took effect on June 24, 2005.

The LIRR misinterpreted the federal rule. This ruling only mandated the sounding of horns at crossings where the railroad tracks come into direct contact with highway or local road traffic lanes, known as “at-grade crossings.” This does not apply to the Long Island Railroad tracks in most sections of Queens, where the majority of tracks run on raised platforms and never come into contact with highway or local road crossings.

A.9693, which was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Serf Maltese (S.6753), will provide residents with the relative peace that existed before this summer, when the Long Island Railroad wrongfully instituted its horn blowing policy. Enacting this quiet zone will have no effect on safety, as the legislation permits for horns to be blown if there are workers on the tracks as a warning signal. It will also ensure the safety of passengers in the stations as it provides that the horns must be used to signal emergency situations.

The introduction of this legislation sparked negotiations between Assemblyman Hevesi, Councilmember Melinda Katz, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, and Helena Williams, the president of the Long Island Railroad. As a result of those discussions on April 9th, the Long Island Railroad instituted a new policy, called the 2008 Horn Noise Reduction Plan, detailing its two-pronged effort to reduce the train noise. This LIRR initiative changes the operating rules and instructs train conductors to maintain horn silence through stations in Queens from the hours of 6:30-9 a.m. and 4:30-7 p.m., unless they have to alert passengers in the stations of an emergency situation. This initiative also outlines a plan to install directional mufflers that are designed to direct the sound of the horns forward rather than allowing the noise to disperse to the sides of the train, affecting nearby residents.

Assemblyman Hevesi’s office will continue to work with all involved parties to determine the next steps in order to maintain operational safety for the railroad and protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Fast for Word Program Back in Action

In recent years, budget cuts to our community’s schools have reduced the number of valuable resources available to our children. In January, I was contacted by several parents and child advocates who made me aware of a computer-based program that was discontinued for the students of PS/IS 87 due to a lack of funding. They provided me with testimonials from the parents and students who have benefited from this program.

Fast for Word is a computer-based program designed to help children with learning disabilities improve their reading skills. The program, usually 8 to 12 weeks in length, begins with basic language skills and moves through increasingly challenging and sophisticated reading skills, all the while increasing the brain’s processing skills. The program is designed to match the ability and progress of each individual reader, allowing each student to be continuously stimulated and challenged.

After negotiating with the principal and the distributor of Fast for Word program, my office, along with Senator Serf Maltese’s office, provided the funding for the program to be reinstated. The program will be reinstated in September and run throughout the school year. It will be made available to all children in the school who have reading disabilities.

Hevesi and Governor Paterson to negotiate compromise on vetoed public works bill

photo Assemblyman Hevesi and Governor Paterson confer at Albany luncheon.
Assembly bill A.10785, introduced and passed this year by Assemblyman Hevesi, changes both the number of members and the appointing officers of the Public Works Advisory Board. The Public Works Advisory Board is an oversight board created to guide any and all public works projects that are brought before the Department of Labor (DOL). Currently, the executive branch is able to appoint all six of the members that make up this board. This bill expands the number of board members from six to nine and makes provisions that both houses of the legislature can make a specific number of appointments, along with the governor, to the board. In A.10785, the Governor gains the power to appoint five members of the board, while both the Assembly and the Senate would have the authority to select two members.

Section 220 of Article 8 of the Labor Laws of New York states the criteria that projects must meet to be considered a public work. The projects’ primary objective must be to benefit the public, which means that construction, reconstruction, or maintenance done on behalf of a public entity fit the definition.

This legislation passed the Assembly and was carried and passed in the Senate (S.1629) by Senator George D. Maziarz. It was then sent to the Governor for his consideration on June 27, 2008. Governor Paterson vetoed this measure on July 7th. The governor always has the option to attach veto messages explaining his decision. These messages are uncommon, but a message of explanation was provided for this bill.

The veto message stated that the governor’s office understands the need for changing the current make up and structure of the board. They do not object to the increase in board membership from six to nine. However, the Governor argues that in the bill’s current form, he is not able to retain appointing power over the majority of members of the board. The veto message explains that because two of the governor’s appointments have to be on recommendation from the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, in effect he has only three votes. The governor’s office is therefore asking that we reconsider the bill to give them a majority of the seats.

The Governor’s veto message specifically directs the executive branch to work with the sponsors of the bill to construct a compromise version for the upcoming legislative session. My staff is currently working with the Governor’s staff to achieve a compromise and ensure that public works projects are handled appropriately.

Below are some of the examples of legislation I sponsored this session. If you have any questions, please contact either my district office or my legislative director, Ashley Pillsbury at 518-455-4926.

A.1688: This bill creates the crime of engaging in criminal street gang activity; establishes such crime shall be a class A misdemeanor.

A.2019-A: This bill will provide the same rights to foreign adoptions as adoptions in New York State provided that the adopted parent is a resident of the state and the validity of the foreign adoption has been verified by the granting of an IR-3 immigrant visa.

A.3414-A: This bill establishes the New York State greenhouse gases management research and development program.

A.3496: This bill enacts the “dignity for all students act” to prevent harassment and discrimination.

A.5449-A: This bill requires the commissioner to establish standards for inspection and certification of green roofs and provides for a green roof installation credit.

A.6063: This legislation amends the education law, in relation to the creation of the “class size reduction act” providing for the contract for excellence and providing certain mandates for the city of New York.

A.8083: This bill provides a death benefit for a member of the auxiliary police in New York City, who dies from injuries received in the line of duty.

A.8488-A: The bill creates a new felony crime of luring a child under the age of seventeen (17) for the purpose of committing one or more of the following: a violent felony offense; murder in the first or second degree; a felony sex offense that is a violation of article one hundred thirty of the penal law; kidnapping in the first degree; promoting prostitution in the second degree, compelling prostitution, or sex trafficking; incest in the first, second, or third degree; use of a child in a sexual performance, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, or promoting a sexual performance by a child.

A.8493-A: This legislation provides that tolls for Red Cross vehicles for access to highways, bridges and tunnels during an emergency are suspended.

A.9275-D: Called the Online Consumer Protection Act, the bill establishes rules and privacy policies with respect to how web site publishers and advertising networks collect and disseminate online information of consumers. It also requires that consumers are given adequate notice of how advertisers operate as well as a clear and conspicuous mechanism on web sites for consumers to opt-out of such online advertising.

A.9975-B: This bill would amend the agriculture and markets law to provide for mandatory hearings regarding the order of security to a shelter, humane society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or other organization or agency that provides care for animals seized by the state and payment of the reasonable costs incurred by such agency or organization in providing such care.

A.11146: This bill provides for net energy metering for non-residential solar electric generating systems and increase the size of farm waste electric systems that can be net metered.

A.11202: This bill amends the real property tax law and the education law, in relation to a solar electric generating system tax abatement for certain properties in a city of one million or more persons.

A.11500-A: This bill provides for the automatic revocation of a teaching certificate held by a teacher convicted of a sex offense.

A.11587: This bill would re-enact Article Six of the Energy Law, in respect to Energy Planning. The provisions would address shortcomings in previous energy planning law by requiring comprehensive studies of the State’s energy needs and by requiring the analyses to be conducted of the emerging regional energy markets in the state.

Update on Con Edison’s Rate Case

Responding to Con Edison’s last rate case, 07-E-0523, Assemblyman Hevesi and his staff organized a coalition of over 100 elected officials that called on the Public Service Commission to deny Con Ed’s rate increase request for Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management Programs. The PSC rejected the $123 million that the company requested. Subsequently, in May 2008, Con Edison filed another rate increase with the Public Service Commission, case 08-E-0539. In this new rate case, Con Ed has now increased their request for new ratepayers funds to half a billion dollars for these programs. Assemblyman Hevesi and his staff are active parties on this rate case and are currently analyzing Con Ed’s most recent rate increase request.

Update on Energy
Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS)

The EEPS is a structure currently being created by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in order to enable the State to reach the Governor’s goal of reducing New York’s energy demand by 15 percent by 2015. Every energy efficiency program in the state is being examined, each region of the state is being assessed in order to ascertain the level of demand reductions needed to achieve the goals, and every utility (including Con Ed), and State Authority (NYSERDA) and other participants in our energy infrastructure are at the table to create a workable standard. The latest part of the formulation of an effective EEPS is the creation of several working groups of experts to discuss the following areas: On bill financing, demand response and peak reduction, and natural gas. My staff and I are participants in each of these groups.

The question of what type of oversight structure will be put into place, the topic to which I testified at a prior EEPS hearing, has yet to be addressed by the Public Service Commission. My staff and I will make sure that the appropriate oversight structure is in place when the EEPS is finalized because we are mindful that it is ratepayer money that is going to be used for all of these programs.

Legislative E-mail Program

Dear Neighbor,

Recently, my office has unveiled our new legislative e-mail program. My office has begun sending weekly e-mail updates on pending legislation by subject matter. Over one thousand residents of our community receive these e-mails, request additional bill text and support memos, and register their approval or opposition to legislation.

If you would like to participate, please e-mail my office at:

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative in the New York State Legislature. Available topics include:

  • Agriculture
  • Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
  • Children and Families
  • Consumer Affairs
  • Corporations and Authorities
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental Conservation FHealth
  • Housing
  • Labor
  • Senior Citizens
  • Small Business
  • Transportation
  • Veterans’ Affairs

70-50 Austin Street, Suite 110
Forest Hills, NY 11375
NYS Seal
Andrew Hevesi
Room 833, LOB
Albany, NY 12248