Especially during this holiday season, I am more than thankful for the widespread support I have received during my first months as your Assembly Member. The 38th Assembly District is a vibrant community that brings together diverse people who share a common goal, to live a healthy, happy and prosperous life. As your representative, I am committed to defending and preserving your quality of life.
Today, our local community, state and nation face many challenges, and I am aware that our neighborhoods feel the hardship more keenly than many others. However, we are resilient, and by working together we will get back on track. As a representative in the State Assembly, I am advocating for our district and for vital services and organizations in our community.
Please remember that I am here to serve you and your family. My office is located at 83-91 Woodhaven Boulevard in Woodhaven, and you can reach me by phone at (718) 805-0950 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to our weekday hours, we are open from noon to three on Saturday and Sunday. You can stop by at any time to voice your concerns, or you can contact me in order to schedule a meeting. You can reach me or a member of my staff by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I look forward to meeting you, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.My warm regards,
Drunk driving is an incredibly reckless and dangerous crime, made all the more senseless and heinous when a child’s life is on the line. The recent Assembly passage of legislation to protect our children and every New Yorker imposes even more severe penalties on those who drive drunk with a child in the car (A.40008). The DWI law will be the toughest in the country.
This multi-pronged measure will make drunk drivers think twice before climbing behind the wheel with a child passenger, and harshly punish those who do so.
The bill also requires the installation of ignition interlock devices by those convicted of the new crime, any misdemeanor or felony DWI, and any DWI-related penal law felony. Ignition interlock devices—breathalyzers tied to a car’s ignition system—prevent drunk drivers from starting their vehicles. Under the bill, operating a vehicle without such a device, or bypassing or tampering with it, would constitute a Class A misdemeanor.
The deadly decision to drive drunk is not one to be taken lightly. It’s a serious crime that destroys lives. This law will go a long way toward keeping our children and our roadways safe from reckless drunk drivers.
Severe weather and a poor economy pose serious risks to working families and the elderly during the winter. To help those vulnerable households meet their home-heating needs this winter, I strongly encourage eligible residents to sign up for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). HEAP is a federally funded program that issues financial assistance to help with a household’s heating cost.
The HEAP regular benefit component assists lower-income New Yorkers with the cost of heating their homes. Regular HEAP benefits are based on income, the primary fuel source—such as oil, gas, propane or kerosene—and number of household members who are under the age of 6 or age 60 and older, or who are permanently disabled. You may be eligible for a regular benefit if:
HEAP also provides emergency benefits to New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat-related energy emergency and do not have the resources available to resolve the crisis. The emergency benefit component of the 2009-10 HEAP program opened on Nov. 2, and emergency HEAP applications also became available at that time.
During the cold winter months, it’s critical that every home has heat. The exorbitant cost of keeping warm has created a dire predicament for too many residents, and HEAP assistance provides additional protection for those who need it most. Heat is a necessity, not a privilege. That’s why I am committed to supporting HEAP and ensuring that seniors on fixed incomes and working families struggling to make ends meet don’t have to choose between paying for necessary prescription medicines, putting food on the table or heating their homes.
For further information about HEAP, including how to apply, please call the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDA) toll-free hotline at (800) 342-3009, or visit the OTDA Web site at www.otda.state.ny.us/main/heap/. To find out if you are eligible for HEAP assistance, visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov.
Automobile accidents happen. If a child is not properly secured, serious injury or even death can occur. That’s why New York State has extended the law that requires children to sit on a booster seat in a motor vehicle from age 6 to age 7. The new law will take effect on Nov. 24 (Ch. 405 of 2009).
Previously, the law required children ages 4-6 to use booster seats. Most 7-year-old children, however, are not big enough to be adequately secured by a vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. Therefore, the law needed to be amended to include children under the age of 8.
Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Seat belts are more effective for children in a booster seat because they raise a child up to an adult’s sitting height. Young children who only use seat belts, rather than booster or child-safety seats, are more likely to suffer life-threatening injuries in a crash, including severe damage to the brain, spleen, liver and spinal cord. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59 percent when compared to children who only use seat belts.
The road is unpredictable and can present unexpected dangers. Booster seats give our children the support and protection they need to help them stay safe when they are passengers in an automobile. It can mean the difference between life and death.
For more information on New York State’s occupant restraint law, visit www.nysgtsc.state.ny.us/.
Whether you keep in touch by using your mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), laptop, pager or two-way messenger, New Yorkers are constantly “plugged-in.” While these devices have numerous benefits, their increased usage has proven to be a significant distraction and danger on the road. That’s why I helped implement a statewide ban on driving while using portable electronic devices (PEDs) (Ch. 403 of 2009).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25 percent of all police-reported crashes involve some form of driver inattention. According to a 2007 Harris Interactive poll, 91 percent of Americans think that driving while texting is as dangerous as drunk driving, and 89 percent of those polled were in favor of a ban.
Under the new law, drivers are prohibited from composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages or other electronic data while driving. The measure also bans viewing, taking or transmitting images and playing games. Motorists found in violation of the ban could face a maximum fine of $150. Fines are allowed to be imposed only as a secondary offense, when the driver is pulled over for a violation of another law.
When certain products are too dangerous to be used by minors, we implement law in order to protect these vulnerable members of the community. Laws regulate the age at which a person can drink alcohol, drive a car, and buy tobacco products. I believe that protective law also should apply to e-cigarettes, a product that currently faces too little regulation. This is why I am co-sponsoring legislation to prevent e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of children.
E-cigarettes are nicotine delivery systems that are available online to anyone, regardless of their age. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found through laboratory analysis that e-cigarettes contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze. I am supporting two bills regarding e-cigarettes. The first would prohibit the distribution or sale of items containing or delivering nicotine that is not defined as a tobacco product or approved by the FDA as a tobacco use cessation or harm reduction product. The second would ban the sale of these electronic cigarettes to minors, as is the sale of other tobacco-related products.
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Cracking down on sex offenders who prey on our children is one of my top priorities in the State Assembly. Under a new law I helped pass, it will be easier for families to find out if a dangerous sexual predator has moved into their neighborhood.
Residents will be able to receive free automatic e-mail updates about the presence of Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders in their community beginning next March (Ch. 478 of 2009). This legislation is an important tool for families to help keep their children safe.
In the past, concerned residents, if not otherwise specifically notified, would have to check the sex offender registry for updates themselves. This law, which I supported, allows any New York State resident who signs up with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to receive automatic e-mail notifications when a registered sex offender moves into the neighborhood. This initiative will help protect our communities through increased awareness.
The law provides residents with an additional means to acquire information about registered Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders who reside in their communities. Residents will be able to request e-mail updates for up to three counties or ZIP codes, and the service will be free of charge.
E-mail notifications allow families to keep tabs on sex offenders who live in the 38th Assembly District in a convenient and hassle-free way. Giving families more information about sex offenders in their community helps keep their children safe.