Assemlbyman Abbate Assemblyman
Peter
Abbate
REPORTS TO THE PEOPLE



In this issueÖ




Dear Friend:

This past legislative session saw a number of important pieces of legislation introduced and passed in the Assembly, some of which were signed into law.

Measures to toughen driving while intoxicated laws, give greater protections to victims of sexual assault, provide additional protection for stalking and other crime victims, and holding HMOs and insurance companies accountable for denying or withholding necessary patient care were addressed.

The Assembly also acted to put an end to the rising costs of auto insura=nce rates. Insurance rates have gotten so out of hand that it now has become really hard for a family to afford adequate auto coverage. Iíve sponsored legislation that would stop insurance companies from raising their rates and aggressively pursue the number one reason for high rates ó fraud.

On the home front, I was able to address some of the quality of life issues that affect us all. These are often overlooked by the media but are important to people in our community. Things like making sure that our streets and sidewalks are paved and passable, pruning our trees so that they remain healthy and donít interfere with utility lines and our homes, and ensuring that the youth and families of our neighborhoods have access to services such as after-school programs and social services through community organizations like the St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis Neighborhood Improvement Association (NIA). These are all important aspects of our everyday lives and seeing that they are available to all area residents is a top priority of mine.

As always, Iíll continue to do all I can to ensure that our community remains one of the best in New York City.

signature
Peter J. Abbate, Jr.
Member of Assembly



Assembly Passes Important Legislation
AGREEMENT WILL HELP PREVENT AND PROTECT AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT
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The state Assembly, Senate and governor reached an agreement on a bill that will give greater protections to victims of sexual assault by strengthening the Sexual Assault Reform Act of 2000.

To send the message that sexual assault is wrong no matter what the relationship between abuser and victim, the legislation eliminates circumstances under which a defendant could inappropriately use marriage as a defense against rape or other sexual assault charges.

The legislation also offers greater protection against date rape drugs by making it a crime to knowingly administer to a person any prescription drug to incapacitate them, and then commit a sexual assault.

Sexual assaults are horrific crimes, and perpetrators of them need to be punished swiftly and severely. This agreement makes a strong law tougher and provides all of us with an added measure of security.

ASSEMBLY PASSES LEGISLATION INCREASING PROTECTION FOR CRIME VICTIMS

The Assembly passed a bill that provides additional protection for stalking and other crime victims by adding more stringent guidelines for keeping criminals at bay.

Under this measure, a stalking or other crime victim could get a special order of conditions against a defendant who has been found not guilty of the crime due to mental disease or defect. Current law invalidates orders of protection if their target is found not guilty by reason of insanity or accepts a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. This bill would protect victims from further harassment, intimidation and threats while their assailants undergo court mandated treatment.

Stalking is much too serious a problem to allow victimsí safety to be jeopardized by a loophole that allows stalkers to avoid legal restraints. No one should have to face the unique kind of terror and anxiety that stalking victims face.

LEGISLATURE TAKES STEPS TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY

The Assembly has consistently fought for measures to make life safer for every New Yorker. In this yearís bipartisan budget, the Assembly and Senate:

  • Set aside $100 million to provide grants to localities to help install enhanced 911 technology which enables emergency dispatchers to pinpoint calls from wireless phones
  • Established a special temporary joint legislative task force Ė similar to how Congress reviews our federal homeland security efforts Ė to assess New Yorkís disaster preparedness efforts.



Legislative Measures that Impact Us All
STOPPING NEW YORK'S RUNAWAY AUTO INSURANCE RATES
photo Assemblyman Abbate discusses legislation with Assemblywoman Adele Cohen during budget negotiations.

Our state now has the dubious distinction of being number two behind New Jersey in having the highest auto insurance rates in the country. New York is only $20 behind New Jersey, and thatís too close for comfort.

The Assembly is committed to helping New Yorkers afford auto insurance and protecting them from scam artists that are exploiting the stateís no-fault insurance law. This year we passed a comprehensive reform bill that:

  • Establishes an independent Office of Consumer Advocate to safeguard auto and health insurance consumers;
  • Requires insurers who do not reduce their no-fault premium rates to provide the state Insurance Department with a detailed explanation justifying their inability to lower rates;
  • Creates felony level penalties for Ďrunnersí ó individuals who recruit clients and facilitators to stage accidents for the purpose of scamming insurers;
  • Provides for stricter accounting of medical costs incurred under the no-fault program.

The Assembly created real reforms and did whatís right for New York motorists. Itís time for the governor and the Senate to do the same and make it the law.

NEW DWI LAW WILL SAVE LIVES AND MAKE OUR ROADS SAFER

Too many of our loved ones have had their lives impacted by drunk drivers. Lowering the blood alcohol level (BAC) sends a clear message that New York does not tolerate mixing alcohol and driving. Itís a serious crime with very serious consequences.

The new state law, which lowers the legal blood alcohol concentration from .10 percent to .08 percent, went into effect on July 1, 2003. Our state has taken steps to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, and to combat this problem. Lowering the BAC to .08 percent is another important step in deterring irresponsible drivers and protecting innocent lives. If one family is spared the heartbreak and devastation of having a loved one killed by a drunk driver, this new law will have been a success.

ASSEMBLY PASSES LEGISLATION INCREASING HMO ACCOUNTABILITY

The Assembly passed a bill that holds insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) liable for denying or withholding treatment. The measure also prohibits insurers from retaliating against health care providers who criticize them for delays or refusals to cover treatment.

For far too long, HMOs have played both judge and jury with human lives ó failing to acknowledge that when they deny a claim, a patient has no where else to turn for help. Itís time these providers realized that thereís more than just money at stake. Their decisions can mean the difference between good health and illness ó or even death.

New York canít afford to sacrifice the quality of health care available for our families. Iíll continue fighting to ensure our families get the care and respect they deserve. Iíll also support legislation that ensures that health care providers make first-class patient care a priority.




Assembly Passes Important Legislation
WORKING TO BRING SENIOR CENTER BACK TO BENSONHURST
photo Assemblyman Abbate assures members of the Narrows Senior Center that heís fighting to open a center in Bensonhurst by bringing $100,000 from the state for renovation of the Moose Lodge.

After losing their center because it did not meet the cityís standard for handicap accessibility, the seniors of the Narrow Center were left with no choice but to travel up to a mile to another center. Realizing that this was wrong, I sought out the owners of the Moose Lodge (7717 18th Avenue) and hammered out a deal that would meet city regulations and accommodate the seniors who had gone for years to the Narrows only a block away.

It was wrong to tell seniors who worked hard all their lives, paid taxes and have been the backbone of our community that they had to go to another neighborhood to be with their friends. When the work is completed at the Moose Lodge, these seniors will once again be able to walk to a new center that will be near their homes.

MAKING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AVAILABLE IN OUR COMMUNITY
photo Assemblyman Abbate joins children, instructors and parents at NIA after-school program.

One of the most important things an elected official can do is to ensure that the area he or she represents gets their fair share of programs and services for children, families and the elderly. Often, providing grants to local neighborhood organizations that offer the programs and services to the community does this.

One organization that performs this function in our area is the Neighborhood Improvement Association (NIA). Since 1981, the NIA has been offering free after-school programs for children, individual and family counseling dealing with issues such as violence prevention and the aftermath of September 11th, and special events for senior citizens.

NIA activities serve the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Boro Park. To help them continue to grow and expand their services, Iíve secured a grant that will allow them to move their offices to a new and bigger location (6614 11th Avenue) some time in 2004.




MEASURE TO LOWER COST-OF-LIVING FOR SENIORS BECOMES LAW

Iím happy to announce that legislation I supported that increases income eligibility for the "Over 65" property tax exemption to $24,000 was signed into law. This new law will help more seniors afford to stay in their homes and community.

Each year, seniors who receive cost-of-living increases in their pensions and social security benefits risk losing their "Over 65" tax exemption eligibility. By increasing the eligibility limit, participating seniors and those with disabilities can continue saving money.




Assemblyman
PETER ABBATE

District Offices

8500 18th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11214
718-236-1764

6419 11th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11219
718-232-9565



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