Legislative & Community Report
to the 42nd Assembly District
Fall 2011

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2011 Legislative Session, proved to be a difficult one in this economic climate and difficult budget decisions had to be made. Health care, education, housing, economic development and job creation are always my prime concerns. In the face of looming fiscal deficits, we strove to preserve needed programs to protect children, the elderly and the vulnerable.

I want to share with you some of our legislative efforts during this session and also to provide you with some important information.

Sesyon Lejislatif 2011 la se te yon sèl sesyon difisil nan klima ekonomik sa a. Se sa-k fe desizyon bidjè a te difisil nan a fe domèn santé, edikasyon, lojman, devlòpman ekonomik ak kreyasyon travay. Diskisyon sa yo se toujou gwo zafè konsekan. Anba gwo presyon lou, defisi fiskal yo, nou fè gwo jefò pou prezève tout pwogram nesesè ki pwoteje ti-moun, gran moun aje ak frajil.

Mwen vle pataje avèk ou kèk nan efò lejislatif nou pandan sesyon sa a, epitou ofri ou anpil infòmasyon ki impotan.
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Assistant Speaker

Health Care: Federal Changes & What You Need To Know

Medicare Coverage Change
If you are on Medicare, there is a new earlier deadline this year if you want to change your coverage for 2012. Open enrollment now runs from October 15th to December 7th. During this period you can compare the costs and benefits of your current coverage with other plans on Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-633-4227.

FREE
Medicare Preventive Visit

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a provision in the law goes into effect this year that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to get a free annual wellness visit. Medicare covers all the costs for a one-time, comprehensive “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit during the first 12 months that you have Part B.

You pay nothing for the yearly “wellness” visit if the doctor or other health care provider accepts assignment. If you get additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under these preventive benefits, you may have to pay co-insurance, and the Part B deductible may apply.

Following the visit, your doctor will give you a plan or checklist with free screenings and preventive services that you need. Please visit http://www.medicare.gov/welcometomedicare/visit.html for more information.

New Online Help
for Caregivers of the Elderly

Caregivers now have a new resource, the Ask Medicare website, launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The website includes information on navigating through Medicare, health care services, links to partner organizations that assist caregivers, and personal caregiver anecdotes. The website serves as a valuable one-stop resource for caregivers, helping them to better assist Medicare beneficiaries.

www.medicare.gov/caregivers
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New Tools Help Fight Health Claim Denials

Fighting back when your health insurance company denies a claim just got a little easier! Thanks to health care reform, new federal regulations expand consumers’ rights to an independent, external review board. The regulations apply to new health insurance plans starting September 23rd. You can contact your plan or the New York State Insurance Department at 1-800-400-8882. You can also email the department via externalappealquestions@ins.state.ny.us or visit www.ins.state.ny.us.



News from Albany

Assemblywoman Jacobs Joins Governor Cuomo
Announcing Federal Disaster Aid for Kings County

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs was pleased to join Governor Cuomo in announcing that federal disaster assistance is currently available for homeowners, renters and small businesses in Kings County as a result of damages incurred by Hurricane Irene.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

New Laws

A.3882 – (Chap. 270 of 2011) Authorizes the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program (LTCOP) to receive and resolve complaints affecting applicants and residents of assisted living residences.

A.8366 – (Chap. 398 of 2011) Will enable safe access to public roads for all users by utilizing “complete street design principles” by transportation officials. Such features to be considered would include sidewalks, paved shoulders for bicycle use, bicycle lanes, share the road signage, lane striping, crosswalks and pedestrian signals, ramps, bus pullouts and other traffic-calming measures.

Assembly Legislation Awaiting Senate Action

A.805 – The Assembly passed legislation I sponsored that would establish the Prescription Drug Assistance Program to harness consumer purchasing power by negotiating rebates with suppliers. Those rebates would then be applied toward reducing prescription drug costs for participants, helping to make their medication more attainable.

A.6289 – (Labor Committee) Recognizing that families need both time and financial support in order to fulfill their obligations to their relatives and loved ones, I support paid family leave. Although the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to many workers to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child, most people can’t afford to take unpaid time from work. I believe paid family leave benefits would allow all workers to remain in the workforce and still receive some income while taking leave to care for their family.

A.7777 – The Assembly passed legislation that would place a temporary moratorium on electric, gas or steam service terminations to residential customers, until the Public Service Commission (PSC) completes a review of existing consumer protection policies. The review would evaluate the current policies’ effectiveness in addressing consumer issues and protecting consumer welfare.



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Rent Laws Extended and Strengthened

The leadership of the Assembly led the way in passing legislation to extend and expand rent protections for New York City residents prior to the conclusion of this year’s Legislative Session. As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I am proud that we were able to pass the boldest improvements in nearly 30 years (A.8518). The new law encompasses many of the measures championed by the Assembly in previous years, and enacts these new protections until June 15, 2015.

“I am proud that we were able to pass the boldest improvements in nearly 30 years.”

Specifically, the new law raises the vacancy deregulation threshold to $2,500 per month and the high-rent threshold to $2,500 per month, while increasing the income threshold to $200,000 per year, thereby protecting more apartments and renters. Additionally, the new law amends the system of improvements to individual apartments by lowering this rate to only 1/60th of the costs of any new renovation.

Hydrofracking Update

According to draft regulations released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), hydrofracking will be prohibited in New York City and Syracuse watersheds as well as primary aquifers across upstate. State forests and wildlife areas will also be shielded.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technology that injects liquids at high pressure deep into the earth to split rock and extract natural gas from shale.

While a moratorium on hydrofracking has expired, New York State will not be issuing permits for drilling until the final rules and regulations are approved after the 60-day public comment period.

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs joined striking Verizon employees and constituents and announced her support for the efforts of members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) during their ongoing dispute with the company.

Improving SUNY & CUNY for
Students and Their Future

The New York State Legislature made history this past June by passing a rational tuition plan for SUNY and CUNY. The five year plan will allow students and their families to plan for incremental tuition increases and protect the neediest students. Anyone who receives the maximum TAP award will not have to pay tuition costs over the $5,000 maximum TAP award. The added revenue from tuition will go directly to support student services and will allow for more class offerings and hiring of more full time faculty. Stable revenue support is a much needed investment in public higher education and its students. The new law will also help New York’s public universities become a leading catalyst for regionally-focused economic development while maintaining affordability and improving academic quality for all students.

Specifically, SUNY and CUNY campuses can now raise tuition by $300 per year for five years, replacing an era of sudden tuition increases. The law will maintain affordability by establishing tuition credits, which will require SUNY and CUNY to apply a credit against the tuition charged to a student. The amount of the applicable tuition credit will be based on the level of a student’s tuition assistance program (TAP) award.

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Ms. Jacobs meets with NYS Department of Education Regent Dr. Kathleen Cashin.

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

Award Determination Changes
  • All annual TAP awards are reduced by $75.
  • TAP awards are not available to graduate students.
  • Private pension and annuity amounts excluded from New York State income tax are to be included in the calculation of income used for determining TAP award eligibility.
  • A new award schedule, with a maximum New York income less than $40,000, and a maximum award of the lesser of $3,025, or the actual tuition charged, is established for independent students who are married with no tax dependents.
  • Students in default on any state or federal student loan are not eligible for TAP or any other New York State financial aid program.
  • Major changes on the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
The 2011 New York State Budget is in effect and to the left are changes made to TAP.

Students should contact their college Financial Aid or Student Accounts office with specific financial aid or billing concerns. For general information about TAP and other financial assistance programs, please visit the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website at www.hesc.com or call 1-888-NYSHESC (1-888-697-4372) toll free or 1-518-473-1574 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.




News from the Community

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Saturday, October 29th @ 7PM
Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church
424 East 19th Street @ Dorchester Road
(718) 282-5353
Gospel Fest Concert
No Admission Charge – freewill offering
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Sunday, December 11th
Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church
424 East 19th Street @ Dorchester Road
(718) 282-5353
71st Annual Candlelight Vespers – concert
No Admission Charge – freewill offering

Community Info

IRPE

The Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education (IRPE) at Brooklyn College – is an opportunity for members (there is a $75 fee) to participate in unlimited non-credit IRPE classes and lectures plus access to concerts, trips and more. For further information telephone (718) 951-5647 or visit their website at www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/pub/departments/irpe

Cortelyou Road Library
(1305 Cortelyou Road)

Due to renovations, the library will be closed for 4 months starting October 14th. It is anticipated that work will be completed and the library will re-open in mid-February 2012. The closest libraries are:
Clarendon Road (2035 Nostrand Ave.)
(718) 421-1159
Flatbush Avenue (22 Linden Blvd.)
(718) 856-0813

The Nonprofit HelpDesk

The Nonprofit HelpDesk helps community-based nonprofit organizations build capacity to better serve their clients. The FY- 2011 webinars are available to management, staff and board members of nonprofit organizations at no charge.
City Farmers Markets Offer Food Stamp Bonus
$2 in coupons for every $5

Through New York City’s “Health Bucks” program, shoppers using food stamps will receive $2 in coupons for every $5 they spend on fresh produce at participating farmers markets. The coupons are redeemable at 65 markets throughout the five boroughs, including the Cortelyou Greenmarket (Cortelyou Rd between Argyle & Rugby Rds); open Sundays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Rhoda Jacobs stops by the Bethesda Church of God in Christ to visit with Rev. Alfred Joseph.

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Staff member Wendy Powell joined Assemblywoman Jacobs and community activists Florette Vassal and Winnie Aikens at the Brooklyn United Congregations event at Holy Cross Church.

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Rhoda Jacobs helps distribute holiday food with COJO of Flatbush social worker Edith Friedman.

Register now!

Webinar: Fundraising Readiness
November 17, 2011 — 12:00-1:30 pm

Intended for: Administration, fundraising, development staff

Webinar: Connecting with Funders
December 1, 2011 —12:00-1:30 pm

Intended for: Administration, fundraising, development staff

For more information please call (718) 449-5000 x 2222 or visit http://nphd.org/education/courses_2011-12/

Assemblywoman Jacobs
Community Service Offices:
2294 Nostrand Avenue • Brooklyn, NY 11210 • (718) 434-0446
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 AM - 5 PM, Fridays 10 AM - 2 PM
1414 Cortelyou Road • Brooklyn, NY 11226 • (718) 940-0428
Hours: Thursdays 10 AM - 5 PM
You can e-mail Assemblywoman Jacobs at jacobsr@assembly.state.ny.us

Always available by appointment if necessary.