Assemblyman Aubry Assemblyman
Jeffrion L.
Aubry
REPORTS TO
THE PEOPLE
WINTER 2006



photo Assemblyman Aubry signs Megan’s Law alongside Governor Pataki.
Assemblyman Aubry announces plan to keep sex predators registered

ASSEMBLY STRENGTHENS
MEGAN’S LAW

Assemblyman Aubry and the Assembly have passed new legislation that he sponsored which will immediately stop sex offenders from being removed from the state registry (A.9082). With this year being the 10th Anniversary of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, also known as Megan’s Law, this law is important because it allows police officials to monitor convicted sex offenders living in the community. It also provides the public with access to information about offenders who move into their neighborhoods. Over the past ten years, the Assembly and the Senate have worked together to strengthen Megan’s Law and pass other anti-crime measures that have helped to reduce violent crime in our state by 49 percent, more than any other state in the nation.

Both houses proposed a bill that would refine Megan’s Law, in order to ensure that sexual predators do not fall from view of law enforcement. Assemblyman Aubry and Senator Skelos proposed bills that addressed the problem. Assemblyman Aubry’s bill was passed in the Assembly and Senator Skelos’s bill was passed in the Senate. In light of this, a Conference Committee was formed in Mid-January to reconcile the differences between the two bills. Senator Skelos was the Chair for the Conference Committee on the Senate side and Assemblyman Aubry was the Chair for the Conference Committee on the Assembly side. Assemblyman Aubry’s bill enacts a moratorium on the expiration of the registration and verification requirements for 14 months, which would extend the duty to register for all sex offenders to March 31st, 2007. Senator Skelos proposed that all sex offenders be registered for life, with the exception that Level 1 Offenders could petition for relief after 20 years as long as they were not labeled as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender. Those who are eligible to petition for relief from registration in the future must wait a period of two years between filings. The original Senate bill would change the venue for certain level setting determinations. Previously, only the court that set a sex offender’s risk level was allowed raise or lower it. The original Senate bill would allow the court sentencing a registrant for a new crime to increase the offender’s risk level. Assemblyman Aubry’s bill requiring the moratorium was to give the federal government enough time to pass their legislation. Their legislation entitled the "Children’s Safety Act of 2005" which would increase the length of registration to include life on the registered list for "serious sex offenses," offenses that qualify as a "specified offense against a minor" and second misdemeanor sex offense against a minor, and a mandatory 20 years for all other sexual offenses. The federal law does not make reference to "risk levels," but rather crime of conviction, when determining length of registration.

Fortunately, the Conference Committee was able to come to an agreement based on all three proposed legislative measures which states that Level I sex offenders will be required to register for 20 years instead of the previous 10 years. Level II and Level III sex offenders are required to register for life, but Level II sex offenders can petition to be taken off the list after 30 years.




Medicaid’s New Prescription Drug Coverage Simplified

Starting January 1st, 2006, a new voluntary prescription drug coverage program will go into effect. While this program maybe confusing, here is some basic information about the program to make it easier to comprehend. The new Medicare prescription drug program is completely voluntary, although if you have both Medicaid and Medicare you must enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. If you have drug coverage already other than Medicaid, your current insurance company has to provide you with a notice indicating that your current prescription coverage is as good as or better than the standard Medicare plan. Seniors with EPIC can keep their EPIC coverage; however, for those with low-income who may need extra help, enrolling in the Medicare drug program will mean more savings because EPIC will waive fees for those who join the Medicare plan. If you have any more questions about this particular prescription drug program, please call 1-800-633-4227.




ASSEMBLY AND SENATE WORK TOGETHER TO PASS CIVIL COMMITMENT LAW

The Assembly and Senate recently passed different versions of legislation providing for the civil confinement of sexual predators after completion of their prison terms. Negotiators for the Assembly and Senate have been meeting in open conference committee meetings to try and come to an agreement on the issue of civil commitment.

Under the Assembly’s plan, sex offenders would be intensely monitored and supervised after their prison terms and after any term of civil confinement. The Senate’s plan would allow sex offenders who are not civilly confined to walk free. And in order to reduce the risk of re-offense and enhance public safety, the Assembly’s plan requires mandatory treatment for incarcerated sex offenders. In contrast, the Senate’s plan does not require any treatment for incarcerated sex offenders.

Under the Assembly’s proposal the civilly confined would be kept separate from mentally disabled patients, while the Senate’s plan doesn’t prohibit that potentially dangerous scenario.

The Assembly’s plan requires that a sex offender’s commitment trial take place where the crime was actually committed, before the court that heard all of the testimony in the criminal trial. The Senate’s plan would have the trials in courts that happen to have a facility in their jurisdiction, which could be hundreds of miles away from where the crime occurred.

Another difference between the Assembly and Senate’s legislation is that the Assembly’s version provides for initiation of civil commitment proceedings a full nine months before an offender is scheduled to be released, while the Senate’s plan would not start proceedings until just four months before a sex offender’s scheduled release, increasing the likelihood that proceedings would not be completed before a scheduled release date.

In another common-sense measure, the Assembly’s proposal requires mental health officials to initiate civil commitment proceedings - the same officials who are responsible for evaluating and treating incarcerated offenders. The Senate’s plan would leave the initiation of proceedings to corrections officials in nearly all instances.

And finally, the Assembly’s bill would ensure that recommendations concerning who is a predator are made by mental health professionals, while under the Senate’s plan there would be no training or experience requirement for the committee making recommendations, and would leave determination to individuals with potentially no experience in evaluating sex offenders.

The Assembly and Senate conference committee has yet to reach agreement on the two bills, but I am confident that we can resolve our differences and adopt a smarter, safer law.




Budget Passed on time this year

The Budget was passed on time this year, for the 2nd year in a row. The overall budget amounted to a total of 113.25 billion dollars. The 2006-07 Budget provides 10.3 billion dollars to New York City in a variety of ways. This includes 6.5 billion in capital funding to reduce class size in New York City schools. More details about the specifics of how the dollars were allocated will be discussed in the next newsletter.




Assemblyman Aubry warns that so-called instant tax refunds cost low-income taxpayers billions.
CONSUMERS MAY FACE 700 PERCENT INTEREST RATES ON REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS.

During tax season, millions of Americans expect refund checks. Many want their money quickly to pay bills and daily expenses without getting deeper in debt. To get a fast turnaround, many low-income Americans will turn to refund anticipation loans called RALs to receive all or part of their refund a few weeks earlier than expected.

But RALs are not tax refunds. They are high-cost, short term loans against taxpayers’ anticipated refunds, and tax services charge exorbitant interest rates for them. Interest charges can range from about 70 percent for a loan of $5000 to over 700 percent for a loan of $200. In addition, if one’s anticipated refund is less than expected, the consumer still has to pay the total RAL amount.

Tax preparation companies that promote these loans prey on the poor and convince unaware consumers to unnecessarily borrow against their own money. Over half of refund anticipation loans are taken out by an estimated 7 million low-wage families who receive Earned Income Tax Credits.

RAL fees siphon off millions from those tax credits. Add tax preparation fees and check cashing costs and the annual expense to consumers totals $1.75 billion, according to the Consumer Federation of America. The fees markedly reduce the refund amount that working families count on, transferring this money instead to multi-million dollar corporations. I support legislation that will protect taxpayers and prevent them from falling victim to these loans (A. 1366).

The measure requires that RALs must be clearly advertised as loans, not refunds. The tax preparer must also explain that an RAL is an option, not a requirement, and that it is loan. In addition, the preparer has to provide the amount of the refund without the RAL and when one can expect it. If the consumer signs for an RAL, the tax preparer must disclose the fee, the amount of the loan, the estimated annual percentage rate of the loan and the loan receipt date. The consumer also would be advised that the full amount of the RAL will have to be repaid if the refund is less than anticipated.

Be patient and you will get your full refund. In addition, wage earners who want their refund quickly should be aware that New York State has increased its pace of processing tax returns. What used to take months now takes about five days.

If you file electronically or, e-file, you can receive your refund in half the time and not pay interests rates or other fees. For information on electronic filing, visit the Internal Revenue Service Web site at www.irs.gov or the State Department of Taxation and Finance at www.tax.state.ny.us.




NYS Seal
Legislature agrees to help New Yorkers with heating costs this winter


SENATE FOLLOWS ASSEMBLY’S LEADERSHIP

Aubry announced in early January that the Assembly and Senate have agreed to expand the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help offset high energy costs that are endangering the well being of the elderly and families of modest means.

New York will now contribute an additional $100 million to the program, which up until now has solely relied on federal funding (A.9562-A & A.9564). This money will be distributed to counties throughout New York State to increase the availability and amount of HEAP grants. New York City will receive $16,357,530 in additional funds. The bipartisan agreement falls short of a measure recently passed by the Assembly (A.9281), which would have made $200 million more in HEAP grants available for those who need it the most. The governor originally wanted to provide just $50 million, which falls drastically short of the demand needed to keep families warm this winter.

"The recent energy and fuel crisis has forced many New Yorkers to sacrifice basic needs in order to heat their homes," Assemblyman Aubry said. "Unprecedented fuel prices have left many families with nowhere to turn, which underscores the dire need for more assistance to our more vulnerable residents. I applaud the Senate and governor for following the Assembly’s leadership in making affordable energy available to those who desperately need it."

Assemblyman Aubry noted that the timing of the agreement is critical, as federal funding to New York for the HEAP program has been reduced $15 million in recent years. Families heating their homes with oil saw prices per gallon rise 21 percent over the last year and 60 percent over two years. Natural gas prices are up a similar amount. While grant amounts have remained flat, HEAP applications have increased by 240 percent this year, and considering that the numbers of eligible households are increasing, even more applications are anticipated.

"Families are struggling more than ever," Assemblyman Aubry said. "Across the state, fires and other tragedies have been blamed on people taking unsafe steps to keep warm, and many elderly have also reported having to choose between buying prescription drugs and paying home heating bills. The Assembly’s leadership in this agreement with the Senate and governor to increase funding is in direct response to the public’s demand for more home heating assistance."

The Assembly has also passed a resolution urging Congress to further increase the amount of federal HEAP aid to New York (K.1211).

Questions regarding the HEAP program should be directed to your County Social Services Office or to the NYS HEAP hotline at (800)342-3009.




LOCAL SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION

***Click here for printable view.***

Tennessee State University (T.S.U.)
Alumni Scholarship
c/o Malcolm X Day Care Center
11-12 Northern Boulevard
Corona, NY 11368
Attn: Education Chair
This is only for those who are accepted to attend T.S.U.

Corona/East Elmhurst Clergy Church Association
M.L.King Scholarship
Essay Application
Your Church must be a Member of C.E.E.C.A.

East Elmhurst-Corona Civic Association Inc.
Arthur Hayes Scholarship
Applications Available: Now
Submission Deadline: 05/2006
You can pick up your application at your East Elmhurst, Corona and Langston Hughes Libraries

Ericsson Street Block Association
Ericsson Street 27th and 29th Avenues Block Association Scholarship
Essay Requirement
Applications: Available Now

Deadline: 5/2006
Submission Information Contact: Mollie Muller, 718-898-5890
Applications can be obtained from Ericsson Street Block Association Members. 2006 Graduating High School Seniors. East Elmhurst Residents are a priority.

First Baptist Church
Education Scholarship
Essay/Application: November 2006
Submission Information: Ms. Dent, 718-446-0200
You must be a member of First Baptist Church
** If you are a member of a Church you should check to see what scholarship programs are available.

115 Precinct
Jacob Govan Scholarship
Available to High School Graduates that reside within the 115th Pct. Territory from Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.
* Community Service is a plus
Applications Available: Now
Submission Deadline: 5/25/2006
You can pick up an application at your local library or the 115th Precinct, Community Affairs - 718-533-2010 or CP: Ms. Phelan, 718-424-2162.

Dollars for Scholars
Applications Availability: Now
Submission Deadline: 5/15/2006
You can pick up your application at your local East Elmhurst Library 718- 424-2619 and Langston Hughes Library, 718-651-1100 Only

Unfortunately these Scholarship Deadlines have passed - You can pass information along for a graduate you may know for 2007 that their applications are usually available in October ’06 for High School Seniors for June 2007.

Key Women
Jessica B. Davis Music Scholarship
Children Ages 8-16, Musically Gifted Scholarship
Applications Available: Still Available
Submission deadline: Postmarked by 3/31/2006
Submission Information Contact: Mrs. Gloria Dixon, 718-478-4421
You can pick up your application from a Key Women Member

Elmcor Alumni Association
Adelphi University/Cecil K. Watkins
Deadline: 01/2006

James Johnson Memorial
Deadline: 03/01/2006

Faulkner Family
Deadline: 03/01/2006

Clifford Goldstein/Rubenette Weaver Goldstein Memorial
Deadline: 03/01/2006
Submission Information Contact: Mr. Robert Butts, 718-924-4286

N.A.A.C.P.
Scholarship for Males Only
Application Availability: Now
Submission Deadline: 03/31/2006
You can pick up your application at your local East Elmhurst Library 718- 424-2619 and Langston Hughes Library, 718-651-1100 Only

National Association of University Women
Postmarked Deadline: 3/11/2006
Notification to Scholarship Awardees by: 4/2/2006

Statewide Scholarship Information

Here are some you may or may not be aware of:
www.fafsa.ed.gov/ for Free Application Federal Student Aid
www.hesc.com/bulletin.nsf/ for Higher Education Services Corp
www.careersandcolleges.com/cnc/rules.do Free to apply
www.doi.gov/bureau-indian-affairs.html If you are able to prove you’re a descendent of Native American by at least there could be some Aide for you
www.restaurant.org/careers/scholarships.cfm For the Culinary Gifted
http://www.naacp.org/about/downloads/downloads_index.html#edu Other N.A.A.C.P. scholarships
http://www.elmcoralumni.org/SCHOLARSHIPS.htm another excellent resource
http://www.knoxvillecollege.edu/pstudents/admissions-info.shtml - scholarship just for first time Freshmen wishing to attend Knoxville College




POST OFFICE
  • Has late hours of operation - Open until 7pm

    • Some stations provide man operated full service and some provide automated service; be sure to take advantage of it.

    • Remember anything posted after 3pm will be processed for the next day

  • Our local post office East Elmhurst Station has finally received authority to assess and re-route the district for delivery improvement and efficiency. Our community has diligently fought for this for the past two years. Thank you Post Master General Mr. Rogers, and Ann Brown, Member of Corona/East Elmhurst Civic Association

  • New division - Business Services: specializes in mailing pick ups, postage meters, etc. Could save you TIME on your home run business, civic group mailings, etc.




photo On Education Day, students discuss important issues and concerns with Assemblyman Aubry.



New York State Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry
District Office
98-09 Northern Boulevard
Corona, New York 11368
T: (718) 457-3615
F: (718) 457-3640
My offices are here to serve you.
If you have a question, problem or an idea, please do not hesitate to call or drop by and we will do our best to try to assist you.
e-mail: aubryj@assembly.state.ny.us
Legislative Office
526 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12248
T: (518) 455-4561
F: (518) 455-4565


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