Reports to the People
New EPIC rules are effective July 1, 2007, so it’s important to know now how these changes may affect you or your loved ones.
Whether you’re enrolled in the fee or deductible plan, show your EPIC card at the pharmacy and the prescription prices will be adjusted to the following EPIC rates:
Epic Exceptions Might Affect You
Some exceptions to the new EPIC rules include seniors who:
Other Important Information
To Apply for EPIC or for further information, please call the EPIC hotline at 1-800-332-EPIC (3742).
|Assemblymember Cook met with representatives of the InterAgency Council of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Agencies. The Interagency Council membership consists of 120 member agencies that provide services in New York City area. This vital organization serves about 75, 000 people each day in residences, special schools, job training programs, clinical and health services, and supports to families. In the photo is Mr. Seibert Phillips, Executive Director of the Evelyn Douglin Center where Assemblymember Cook has secured vital funding to help those in need.|
|A Glimpse At The New Laws Of 2007|
This year marked the 230th Legislative Session and hundreds of bills passed the Assembly and Senate; many were signed into law. It is important to review these new laws as they are designed to better protect you. I will keep you informed about bills as they continue to be sent to the Governor for final approval. These new laws will be highlighted in future newsletters.
Patients Identification – Provides for a process prior to admission to a general hospital for performance of a cognitive impairment identification on patients 60 or older. (Ch. 290 of 2007)
Children and Families
Administering of Medication at Daycare – Provides for the administering of medication or treatment to a child under certain circumstances at daycare. (Ch. 16 of 2007)
Firearm License – Provides that a person who has been convicted of a violent felony offense or a class A-I felony and who is issued a certificate of good conduct or relief from disabilities shall not be entitled to obtain a firearm license or to lawfully possess a rifle or shotgun. (Ch. 235 of 2007)
Indecent Material to Minors – Includes written communication within the offense of first-degree dissemination of indecent material to minors. (Ch. 8 of 2007)
Sexual Predators – Keeps the most dangerous sexual predators off the streets even after they finish their prison terms, and establishes new, tougher sentences for people convicted of sex crimes. The state Attorney General will decide when to seek civil commitment of individuals determined to suffer from a mental abnormality by a state committee of mental health professionals. If confinement is not ordered, the sex offender will still be under strict and intensive supervision and treatment. In addition:
The law also toughens penalties for convicted sex offenders by:
Health Insurance Coverage – Extends a law prohibiting school districts from reducing neither the level of health insurance coverage nor their contribution toward its cost for retirees, unless the reduction applies equally to active employees. (Ch. 22 of 2007)
Public Employee Organizations – Extends right of public employee organizations to agency-shop fee salary deductions for two more years. (Ch. 13 of 2007)
Website – Requires state entities that maintain a website to post certain information on them, including the contact information of the person who is responsible for complying with FOIL requests. (Ch. 102 of 2007)
Ethics Reform – This law curtails gifts from lobbyists to legislators and creates a comprehensive watchdog agency to ensure the integrity of state government. Specifically, the package:
The measure also increases penalties for violations of the lobbying law and public officers law and creates a permanent watchdog on ethics issues by merging the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying and the State Ethics Commission into a new entity, the Commission on Public Integrity. (Ch. 14 of 2007)
WTC Site Relief – Provides for reimbursement for unreimbursed or unreimbursable counseling expenses or indebtedness incurred by WTC site relief workers. (Ch. 21 of 2007)
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act – The law enacts the “allergy and anaphylaxis management act of 2007. (Ch. 579 of 2007)
SUNY/CUNY – Provides that the city and state contribute the required employee contribution on behalf of SUNY and CUNY who are members of the optional retirement program. (Ch. 617 of 2007)
Multiple Dwellings – This law makes technical amendments regarding eligibility limitations on exemptions of new multiple dwellings. (Ch. 620 of 2007)
Eligibility Limitations Multiple Dwellings – Makes technical amendments regarding eligibility limitations on exemptions of new multiple dwellings. (Ch. 619 of 2007)
New Multiple Dwellings – Makes eligibility limitations on exemptions of new multiple dwellings from local taxation. (Ch. 618 of 2007)
Shelter Allowance – Relates to the shelter allowance for individuals and families receiving public assistance and residing in city, state or federal public housing. (Ch. 598 of 2007)
Employee Right to Express Breast Milk – Provides that an employee has the right to express breast milk at work; requires employer to make reasonable efforts to provide a location for a woman to express milk in privacy; and prohibits discrimination. (Ch. 574 of 2007)
Workers’ Compensation Reform – Reduces workers’ compensation premiums by 10 to 15 percent by:
The law increases the $400 maximum weekly benefit rate over a four-year period. In year 1, the rate is raised to $500; in year 2, to $550; and in year 3, to $600. In year 4, the rate will be indexed to the average weekly wage. In addition, the minimum weekly benefit will increase from $40 to $100. (Ch. 6 of 2007)
Jonathan’s Law – Allows parents and guardians of individuals with mental disabilities access to investigative records pertaining to their loved ones. Jonathan’s Law:
Department of Economic Development – Provides for regional offices of the Department of Economic Development to offer information and assistance to small businesses on environmental compliance and pollution prevention and help provide technical and financial assistance to promote compliance with environmental standards. (Ch. 572 of 2007)
Veterans Burial – Direct NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs to apply for and institute a fund to provide grants to honorably discharged veterans to offset the cost of burial and interment expenses and to allow for the interment of NY veterans in their own communities at a reduced cost. (Ch. 652 of 2007)
Ways and Means
Budget Process – Brings more balance, timeliness and transparency to the budget process by:
Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2007 – Establishes the Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2007 for Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Madison, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Tompkins, Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga and Ulster counties; holds school districts harmless. (Ch. 15 of 2007)
Broadcast of Government Proceedings – Creates a bipartisan and bicameral advisory board to oversee the broadcast of government proceedings. In addition to exploring the expansion of the current statewide television broadcasts, the advisory board will consider broadcasting or Web casting legislative committee meetings. (Adopted by the Assembly 4/23/07)
STAR tax relief is on its way. Seniors 65 years or older who receive the enhanced STAR exemption do not need to apply. These homeowners will get their STAR rebate check automatically. All other eligible homeowners will receive a letter in the mail by the end of September and must fill out an application prior to the November 30th deadline. The rebate checks will be mailed to homeowners as their applications are processed. To receive a rebate check, homeowners only have to verify required information for all resident property owners. You may also go online at www.nystax.gov or call the STAR Hotline at 1-877-678-2769 to find out when their notice and application will be mailed.
This winter, several delayed flights unwittingly trapped passengers for endless stretches of time in the cramped, stuffy cabins of airliners without any relief.
On Valentine’s Day, passengers were held for more than 9 hours on a JetBlue flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport with little food, little air, and no power. Other JetBlue flights were similarly stalled, one with bathrooms overflowing. On St. Patrick’s Day, passengers were stuck for 14 hours aboard a Royal Air Maroc flight. People on a Swiss flight to Zurich were trapped on board for 8 hours and a Virgin Atlantic flight to London left after a 9 and l/2 hour wait. A Cathay Pacific flight to Vancouver was finally canceled after a wait on the runway of more than 9 hours.
Airline passengers stranded on New York’s runways should have basic amenities to make their wait more tolerable. In joining my colleagues to support legislation creating an airline passenger bill of rights, we ensure more humane treatment for airline passengers in such stressful situations.
Travel brings its share of hassles and frustrations, especially in today’s post-9/11 climate where safety concerns replace the once unfettered path from door to tarmac, meaning longer lines at airport check points to confirm identities, stop potentially dangerous persons and scan baggage and clothing for weapons and other items that can threaten our security.
Passengers also cope with unforeseen delays caused by weather and mechanical problems. In these instances, basic amenities like bathroom facilities and clean air and water should be available to safeguard passengers’ health and well-being.
The airline passenger consumer bill of rights will ensure the availability of electricity to provide fresh air and lights, working bathrooms, and adequate food and drinking water if the wait runs longer than 3 hours. In addition, the legislation creates the Office of the Airline Consumer Advocate to resolve passenger complaints, investigate bill of rights violations and refer cases for legal action by the Office of the Attorney General, which can result in civil penalties.
New York State is a hub for millions of travelers. In 2006, JFK handled about 43 million passengers, Newark International nearly 36 million, and La Guardia approximately 26 million passengers, making New York airports some of the busiest in the United States. We have a responsibility to ensure that airlines provide basic amenities at all times – but especially during delays and emergencies – that protect the health and safety of passengers.
I am pleased to inform you that this year’s 2007–2008 budget contains $25 million in funding for the Shared Municipal Services Incentive (SMSI) grant program administered by the Department of State. The SMSI program was created in 2005, to encourage municipal consolation and cooperation. Grants are intended to cover the cost associated with mergers, consolidations, cooperative agreements, dissolutions and shared services, including legal and consultant services, feasibility studies and capital investments. Recurring expenses such as salaries, utilities or fuel are not eligible. Applications are due December 14, 2007. For more information you may go to the Department of State Web site at www.dos.state.ny.us or by calling (518) 473-3355.
Under this grant, counties, cities, towns, villages, special improvement districts, fire districts, school districts, may apply.
YOU MAY CONTACT ASSEMBLYMEMBER COOK
Albany Office: L.O.B. – Room 331, Albany, NY 12248
District Office: 142-15 Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11436
Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.
For assistance you are welcome to call or stop by Assemblymember Cook’s Office