A GLIMPSE OF SIGNIFICANT BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW IN 2006
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Family Court Access To Abuse Records This law provides child protective investigators 24-hour access to family court so that they will have the tools they need to get a order to gain access to children named in a child abuse report when the parents have denied an investigator access to the child and the investigator suspects the child’s life or health are in immediate danger. (Chapter 740)
Educational Neglect Reporting This law requires the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the State Education Department to create model policies and procedures for the reporting and investigation of educational neglect by April, 2007 and that local districts provide written policies and procedures regarding the reporting and investigation of educational neglect in their districts to OCFS. (Chapter 543)
Child Protective Services (CPS) Training This law requires all CPS workers complete six hours of continuing education annually, that all CPS supervisors receive enhanced supervisory training and that the OCFS set standards for educational and field experience in order to qualify for a position as a CPS supervisor. (Chapter 525)
Child Protective Services Reports This law requires that certain reports of child abuse and maltreatment be referred to the appropriate local law enforcement and for certain investigations be conducted by an approved multidisciplinary investigative team or jointly with local law enforcement where a county does not have an approved multidisciplinary team. (Chapter 494)
Foster Parent Criminal Checks This law requires that FBI background checks be conducted on prospective foster parents. (Chapter 668)
Child Abuse Zero Tolerance Campaign This law establishes an educational campaign to increase public awareness about the signs of child abuse and what can be done to prevent the maltreatment of children. (Chapter 539)
One Family, One Judge This law ensures "one family, one judge" in court proceedings, such as adoption, surrender and termination of parental rights. This law would establish continuity in cases where the court aims to provide children in foster care with a permanent home through adoption or return to their families. (Chapter 185)
Crime Of Incest This law charges sex offenders, without regard to how closely they are related to the victim, who engage in sex with a child under 12 years of age with a class B felony and prison sentence of up to 25 years and no chance of probation. In addition, the law would provide that sex with a child less than 15 years of age would be a class D felony offense. The law closes the incest loop hole that provided lenient treatment to offenders who assaulted children who were related to them. (Chapter 320)
DNA Databank Expansion This law expands the state’s current DNA databank by requiring all the individuals convicted of a felony crime or any one of a number of misdemeanors, including the most common misdemeanor crime of petit larceny, to submit DNA sample to the state DNA databank. (Chapter 2)
Sex Offender/Megan’s Law Requires lifetime registration for Level 3 offenders and persons designated as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender. This law would eliminate the possibility of these high-risk offenders ever coming off the state sex offender registry. (Chapter 1)
Felony Pursuit / "Craig Todeschini" Bill This law toughens the penalty for drivers who flee a police officer after being directed to stop their motor vehicle. Under the law, violators would face charges ranging from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony with a prison sentence of up to seven years. (Chapter 738)
School Bus Firearm Ban This law expands the current law that bans firearms on the property of schools, colleges or universities to include school buses. (Chapter 199)
Crime Victims Assistance This law standardizes procedures for victims to be notified by police and district attorneys to ensure they are aware of their rights and of the availability of assistance programs. (Chapter 173)
Swastika Graffiti / Cross-Burning Crime This law increases the penalty for the crime of drawing a swastika, thereby vandalizing and damaging property, as well as burning or desecrating a cross for the purpose of harassing or terrorizing individuals to a class E felony with a prison sentence of up to four years. (Chapter 49)
CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND PROTECTION
Pool Alarms This law requires swimming pools to be equipped with alarms to detect when a child has accidentally fallen into a swimming pool. Under the law, businesses selling or installing swimming pools must notify consumers of the mandate to outfit their pools with a pool alarm. (Chapter 450)
Rebate Offer Standards This law requires that rebate offers be clearly and conspicuously available for printing either on the Internet page where the product is purchased or on a page accessible by a hyperlink from such page to ensure that consumers do not have to experience an unreasonable, lengthy and cumbersome rebate policy as a way to discourage consumers from seeking the discounted price. (Chapter 81)
Anti-Phishing Act of 2005 This law establishes the Anti-Phishing Act of 2005 to allow the attorney general, or any person engaged in the business of providing Internet access, to bring a civil action against "phishers." Under the law, phishers are individuals who send e-mail messages to unsuspecting Internet users falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into disclosing private information that could be used for identity theft. (Chapter 64)
Social Security Number Protection This law bans businesses from making an individual’s SSN available to the general public. The law also would restrict businesses from printing an individual’s SSN on mailings or on any card or tag required to access products, services or benefits; prohibit businesses from requiring an individual to transmit his or her unencrypted SSN over the Internet; and require businesses who possess SSN information to implement appropriate safeguards and limit unnecessary employee access to such records. (Chapter 676)
Private Information Disposal This law requires businesses to take appropriate steps in the disposal of personal identifying information, including shredding records before disposal; destroying personal information contained in the record before disposal; modifying the record to make personal information unreadable or taking action consistent with commonly acceptable industry practices to help ensure no unauthorized person will have access to personal information contained in the record. (Chapter 65)
Right to "Freeze" Consumer Credit Reports This law guards against identity theft by providing consumers with the ability to prohibit access to the personal information maintained in their consumer credit reports unless they expressly consent to it, thus preventing identity thieves from taking out new loans and credit in their name. (Chapter 63)
Magazine Renewal Notification This law requires that all magazine subscription renewal notices sent to existing subscribers indicate the month and year of the subscription’s expiration. The law aims to protect magazine readers from unnecessarily renewing magazine subscriptions that have not expired. (Chapter 204)
Food Safety Certification Requirements This law requires retail food establishments to employ personnel who have completed an eight-hour food safety course. (Chapter 80)
Pricing Accuracy This law requires retail businesses to price merchandise being sold to the public accurately. Under the measure, retail merchants would be required to disclose the selling price of an item in their store and to charge the correct price at the checkout. (Chapter 665)
Power For Jobs This law continues the highly successful Power for Jobs program and the Economic Development Power program until June 30, 2007. The $100 million appropriation for these two cheap-power programs will be utilized by industries across the state that rely on these programs to support more than 400,000 jobs. (Chapter 465)
"Come Home To New York" This law creates the "Come Home To New York" program to encourage the return of native New Yorkers to the state through a network of local outlets and resources designed to assist them in returning to or starting a small business in New York. (Chapter 756)
Indoor Fireworks Display Ban This law prohibits indoor fireworks or pyrotechnic displays without a permit. Under the law, the liquor license of an establishment, where an indoor fireworks display occurs without a permit, could be suspended, canceled or revoked. (Chapter 655)
Shaken Baby Syndrome This law allows for the parenting skill courses provided to high school students to include information about the consequences and prevention of shaken baby syndrome. (Chapter 177)
Whistle Blower Protections, School Employees This law provides protections to school employees who, having reasonable cause to suspect that fiscal practices violate the law, report this information. The measure would protect whistleblowers from civil liability and retaliation from their employer or other employees. (Chapter 118)
Preventing The Scheduling Of State Mandated Exams On Religious Holidays This law directs the State Education Department to make bona fide effort to schedule state mandated examinations on days other than days of religious observation. (Chapter 276)
Environmental Test Reporting This law requires the DEC to notify property owners of environmental contamination and potential exposure to potential health risks. (Chapter 707)
Dam Safety Measures To ensure the safety of the communities that host the more than 5,000 dams in New York State and to protect residents from the loss of life and widespread property damage, the law would require the state DEC to provide dam safety inspection reports to local government officials where intermediate- or high-hazard dams are located. This law allows local officials to assess their community’s readiness to provide an effective emergency response in the event of a dam failure. (Chapter 17)
Hazardous Substance Spills Reporting This law requires the DEC to notify communities affected by hazardous spills within 48 hours of the department being notified of the problem. (Chapter 616)
Consultant Contract Disclosure This law requires the state Department of Civil Service to publish an annual report revealing the number of employees hired contractually to perform services for state agencies; expand the types of contracts for consulting services that are required to be reported and mandate the reports include information about the number of employees hired under those contracts; and provide more reporting and public disclosure involving other types of services contracted for by the state. (Chapter 10)
Public Pension Fund Assets This law increases from 15 percent to 25 percent the portion of public pension fund assets that may be invested according to the prudent investor standard. (Chapter 22)
Word Trade Center Accidental Death Benefit This law provides accidental death benefits for municipal employees who, as responders to the World Trade Center, were exposed to toxic substances in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. (Chapter 445)
FOIL Compliance This law increases public access to information by strengthening agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). (Chapter 492)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Day This law establishes November 12 as Elizabeth Cady Stanton Day. The law aims to honor Stanton and her lifetime advocacy for women’s rights. Stanton, who was born in Johnstown, New York, and Susan B. Anthony, established the National Women’s Suffrage movement that was instrumental in securing a women’s right to vote and to own property. (Chapter 23)
Emergency Announcements This law requires the Disaster Preparedness Commission to develop public service announcements (PSA’s). The measure would ensure that the state is prepared to communicate in multiple languages, through television, radio and other media formats, critical disaster relief information to New Yorkers. (Chapter 171)
Gold Star Mothers This law designates the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers Day to honor the mothers of the men and women who made the supreme sacrifice in service to our nation. (Chapter 48)
Flag Of The United States Of America This law requires state parks with developed facilities for public use to display the flag of the United States of America. (Chapter 688)
Carbon Monoxide Detectors This law requires that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in dwellings constructed or offered for sale after July 30, 2002 that have appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide. (Chapter 202)
Medicaid Inspector General This law establishes the office of Medicaid inspector general, who would be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor. The Inspector General would be responsible for improving Medicaid fraud detection and control, and for establishing a medical provider compliance program. (Chapter 442)
Organ Donation This law requires the state Transplant Council to study the issue of a presumed consent standard in organ donations (Chapter 638); establishes for donors and their families income tax credits for up to $10,000 (Chapter 565); provides that driver’s licenses and renewals issued to a person making an anatomic gift include a prominently printed statement confirming the organ donor status (Chapter 568); and creates an anatomical gift information program to promote public awareness of organ donation. (Chapter 598)
Immunizing Children This law requires children born on or after January 1, 2005 to be immunized for invasive pneumococcal disease prior to being admitted to any school and allows the commissioner of health to develop and execute an immunization, surveillance and testing program for such disease. (Chapter 189)
SUNY Board Of Trustees Membership This law increases the SUNY Board of Trustees membership from 16 to 17. The additional member would include the president of the University Faculty Senate as a non-voting ex-officio member. In addition, the president of the Student Assembly of the State University would become a voting and ex-officio member of the board. (Chapter 127)
Authorizes Physical Therapy Treatment To Be Rendered Without Referral This law authorizes access to physical therapy treatment without a referral in certain instances. (Chapter 127)
Nurse Title Protection This law provides that no one would be allowed to use the title nurse unless he or she is registered as a professional nurse or licensed practical nurse authorized to practice nursing. (Chapter 323)
Housing Preservation Development This law extends the ability of New York Housing Preservation Development (HPD) to restructure rents in multiple dwellings that are receiving Article 8-A rehabilitation loans (Chapter 134); This law would continue the HPD rent-restructuring authority in buildings that are part of urban development action area projects and are rehabilitated with municipal loans (Chapter 121); This law would extend HPDs authority to restructure rents in residential buildings that have received low-interest, municipally financed rehabilitation loans under Article 8 of the Private Housing Finance Law. (Chapter 133)
Housing For The Disabled This law establishes the Access to Home Program in state law. The program provides financial assistance to property owners and renters to make existing dwelling units accessible for low- and moderate-income persons with disabilities. (Chapter 159)
Housing For Special Needs Population This law exempts community residences, as defined under the Mental Hygiene Law and other residential facilities under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mental Hygiene, from the minimum rehabilitation percentage requirement to qualify under the definition of rehabilitation loan within the Mortgage Insurance Fund. (Chapter 402)
Workplace Violence This law requires certain employers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence. Under the law, public employers must evaluate the potential risks for violence within their workplace and develop and implement a written violence prevention program to prevent and minimize the hazards of workplace violence to their employees. (Chapter 82)
Industrial Development Agencies Extender This law extends the expiring provisions of the Industrial Development Agency statute until July 1, 2007. (Chapter 142)
Volunteer Firefighter Defense And Indemnification This law requires municipalities and fire districts to provide defense and indemnification for actions taken by volunteer firefighters, provided that the acts did not involve willful negligence or malfeasance. (Chapter 559)
Fire Company Scholarship Eligibility This law extends provisions related to volunteer firefighter scholarships and changes the eligibility requirements to permit scholarship recipients to live outside the 50 mile radius requirement, under certain conditions. (Chapter 125)
Lung Disease Presumption This law establishes a presumption that death or disability from lung disease in volunteer firefighters results from actions taken in the line of duty. (Chapter 606)
Publication of Firefighter Training Standards This law requires the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control to promulgate rules and regulations governing firefighter training, including the process by which training hours are allocated to counties and a uniform procedure for requesting additional training hours. (Chapter 615)
Emergency Services Revolving Loan Cooperation This law encourages regional cooperation by authorizing applicants to apply jointly for funding from the Emergency Services Revolving Loan Fund and increases the loan amounts available to joint applicants. (Chapter 72)
Volunteer Firefighter Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) Reforms This law authorizes the comptroller to post information about firefighter Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) vendors on a single website in order to make it easier for sponsors to select the appropriate vendor. (Chapter 262); This law establishes an optional state-administered service award program for volunteer firefighters. (Chapter 714)
RACING AND WAGERING
Internet And Cell Phone Betting This law allows wagers to be placed via cell phone and the Internet at events sponsored by New York race tracks or simulcast races broadcast at local Off-Track Betting Corporations (OTB). The law, expanding the current law, allows bets to be made over the telephone and does not authorize "off-shore" Internet betting sites to operate legally in this state. According to the sponsor, Internet wagering reduces the cost of processing bets significantly, thereby increasing profits and allowing more money to be paid to winning bettors and to support the operation of state and local governments. (Chapter 34)
REAL PROPERTY TAXATION
Property Tax Breaks This law provides a personal income tax (PIT) credit to eligible home owners for school property taxes paid in 2006. Under the law, taxpayers could claim their tax credit when they file their 2006 personal income tax form. For 2006 only, property owners have the option of filing for their tax credit early by filing a claim form to the Department of Taxation and Finance by November 15, 2006. The credit would be $9,000 multiplied by the taxpayer’s real property tax rate for the 2004-05 school year. Under the legislation, the New York City school tax reduction credit would be increased from $125 to $230 for married couples filing jointly and from $62.50 to $115 for single filers and heads of household. In addition, the tax credit for seniors with incomes under $67,850 would be increased by 67 percent. (Chapter 105)
Single-Room-Occupancy Housing This law extends until December 31, 2011, the date by which owners rehabilitating single-room-occupancy housing (SROs) are eligible to receive tax benefits. (Chapter 609)
STAR Extension This law allows local governments to grant senior citizens a five-day extension to pay their real property taxes and remain eligible for the STAR program. (Chapter 161)
Free ID Card for Persons 62 or Older on SSI Benefits This law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue non-driver ID cards free of charge to persons 62 years or age or older receiving SSI benefits who have no drivers’ licenses or whose drivers’ licenses are surrendered or expired. (Chapter 575)
Omnibus DWI Bill This law establishes the new crime of "Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)" for drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 18 percent or higher; permanently revoke the driver’s licenses of persistent offenders; authorize higher felony charges for persons who drive drunk or impaired by drugs and seriously injury or kill another person, if other factors are involved, such as multiple victims, prior convictions or high BAC levels; impose longer license revocation periods and higher fines for chemical test refusals; and require alcohol- and drug-abuse assessment and treatment of certain offenders. (Chapter 732)
Bill Leaf-Brandi Woods Law This law cracks down on drunk drivers involved in accidents causing physical injury or death and who have been convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the previous 10 years. The law is named after Brandi Woods and Bill Leaf. Woods, a teenager from Memphis, New York , and Leaf, a Syracuse radio station sportscaster, were both killed by drunk drivers who had a history of drunk driving related convictions. (Chapter 245)
Prior Out Of State Convictions This law requires that prior out-of-state convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or while ability impaired (DWAI) be given the same weight as a prior conviction for the equivalent violation in New York State, when determining penalties for a DWI or DWAI conviction in New York State. (Chapter 231)
BWI/BWAI Penalties This law makes the penalties for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) and Boating While Ability Impaired (BWAI) convictions the same as those imposed for equivalent Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) convictions. (Chapter 151)
Drowsy Driving This law requires the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to develop and implement an outreach campaign to inform the general public about the dangers of driving while drowsy and the Department of Transportation to study the safety and availability of highway rest stops. (Chapter 651)
New York City Red Light Cameras This law authorizes the City of New York to utilize an additional 50 red light cameras. The law would also require the use of technologies to prevent images of a vehicle’s occupants and contents from appearing in red light camera photographs; prohibit owner liability if the vehicle was operated without his or her consent; expand the reporting requirements to include accident data and expenses incurred for the program and require the annual issuance of the report; and create a defense to any prosecution if traffic-control signals were malfunctioning at the time of the alleged violation. (Chapter 658)
Failure To Yield The Right Of Way This law requires the mandatory suspension or revocation of drivers’ licenses if failure to yield the right of way in a motor vehicle which causes the death or serious physical injury of another. (Chapter 571)
Organ Donor This law requires that driver’s licenses and renewals issued to persons making an anatomical gift have prominently printed on the front the statement "ORGAN DONOR." (Chapter 568)
Notation Of Death Or Serious Physical Injury This law requires police officers to note, in the "description of violation" section of a uniform traffic summons issued for all violations rising out of an accident whether a death or serious physical injury occurred. (Chapter 553)
Congressional Medal Of Honor Monument This law provides for the creation of a monument dedicated to the memory of all New York residents who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The monument would be located in the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza or Capitol Park in the city of Albany. (Chapter 690)
Small- And-Medium-Sized Business Relief This law provides financial assistance to small- and-medium businesses that have been adversely affected by the absence of an owner, manager or key employee called to active military duty. (Chapter 164)
Military Spouses 10 Days Leave This law provides the spouses of members of the United States National Guard and reservists who have been deployed during a period of military conflict up to ten days of unpaid leave from their place of employment. This law would allow the wives and husbands of our men and women in uniform a period of vacation time when their spouse returns from serving in a combat zone. (Chapter 495)
State Of Military Decorations This law prohibits the sale of military decorations found in safe deposit boxes deemed to be abandoned. Under the bill, such military awards, medals or decorations would be sent to the New York State military museum and veterans research center under the jurisdiction of the division of military and Naval Affairs, where they shall be retained (stored and displayed) indefinitely until claimed by the lessee of the safe deposit box or the lessee’s estate or released to a person or entity lawfully entitled to possession of the medals. (Chapter 297)
Gift Shop Located In A Veteran’s Home This law exempts from sales and compensating use taxes retail sales of tangible personal property by gift shops located in New York State veterans’ homes. (Chapter 296)
Military Voting This law extends for one year the provision in the Election Law to allow military ballots to be cast and counted if signed and dated by the voter and one witness. It also would extend the time for receipt of the general ballot to 13 days after the election, as compared to 7 days for a primary or special election. (Chapter 528)
Limitation For Phenoxy Herbicide This law extends the statute of limitation for lawsuits relating to exposure to phenoxy herbicide by armed forces personnel who served in Indo-China for two years. (Chapter 39)
Vietnam Veterans Tuition Awards Program This law extends the date for eligible veterans to apply for state college tuition assistance. Under the bill, veterans would have until September 1, 2008 to file an application form for the Vietnam, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan Tuition Assistance Program. (Chapter 208)
Expand Real Property Tax Exemption For Those Eligible For Pecuniary Assistance The purpose of this law is to include seriously disabled veterans who are eligible to receive monetary assistance from the federal government to acquire or adopt a home to their needs in the category of those qualified for the eligible funds exemption under Section 458(3) of the Real Property Tax Exemption. (Chapter 46)
New Law to Prevent Home Equity, Deed Theft
Measure to prohibit scammers from
taking advantage of homeowners’ hard times
Assemblymember Cook announced a new law preventing mortgage fraud and deed theft and protecting homeowners’ hard-earned equity. The measure was signed into law - Chapter 308.
"For many New Yorkers, the home equity they build is their most valuable asset" Assemblymember Cook said. "However, too many dishonest businesses talk homeowners - especially seniors and low-income families - into unknowingly signing over the deed of their house under false pretenses."
Assemblymember Cook said these con artists seek out those who have trouble making ends meet and then offer what appears on the surface to be a loan to save the homeowner from foreclosure. However, these deceitful financiers use fine print and deception to transfer ownership to them - and with it the hard-earned equity of their victims.
Other fraudulent behavior includes selling home improvement services through high-cost financing, leaving homeowners with no money and incomplete repairs. Some contractors also recommend high-interest loan officers, who offer to help refinance or "flip" the loan for a better rate - but in reality, they only put the homeowner further in debt.
"Last year, the Assembly’s Committee on Banks held hearings and found homeowners who were taken advantage of, and were often evicted from their homes with little or no recourse," Assemblymember Cook said. "This law protects homeowners and prevents these deceitful tactics."
The bill supported by Assemblymember Cook, contains measures to safeguard New Yorkers against home equity theft and penalizes those who intentionally mislead homeowners.
The Home Equity Theft Prevention Act:
Assemblymember Cook said the AARP pushed for this reform to stop predatory lending, and that other states - California, Minnesota, Maryland and Illinois - already have such laws in place. The measure strengthens existing state laws passed in 2002 to to protect homeowners.
"We must continue to do all we can to protect New York’s homeowners, especially the most vulnerable of them," Assemblymember Cook said.
|Assemblymember Cook Announces Law to Toughen Penalties for Selling Drugs on School Buses|
Assemblymember Cook announced a law she supported that would add school buses to the designated areas where a person can be charged with violating a Drug-free School Zone by selling controlled substances. The bill was signed into law in July 2006 - Chapter 436.
"Drug-free School Zones help keep drugs away from our children, and this law will help strengthen the zones by including school buses," Assemblymember Cook said. "I urge the governor to promptly sign this legislation into law. This new law will help keep our children safe from the dangers of illegal drugs."
The law would subject selling controlled substances on a school bus to the same heightened penalties as selling them on school grounds.
"Obviously, extending the same penalties for selling drugs on or near school grounds to school buses is a reasonable step," Assemblymember Cook said. "Parents should be able to expect the same safety measures in place on school buses as in schools themselves. This common-sense piece of legislation, now law, will help rid our schools of drugs."
ASSEMBLYMEMBER COOK’S OFFICE INFORMATION
Assemblymember Cook has an open door policy. If you are in need of special assistance or would like to express a particular concern, please feel free to stop by or call her office.
ALBANY OFFICE: LOB - Room 331 * Albany, NY 12248 * (518) 455-4203
DISTRICT OFFICE: 142-15 Rockaway Boulevard * Jamaica, NY 11436 * (718) 322-3975
Email: email@example.com * Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.