Assemblyman Michael R. Benedetto Assemblyman
Michael R.
Reports to
the People
Summer 2008
Room 12, 2nd Fl., Co-Op City Comm. Center #1, 177 Dreiser Loop, Bronx, New York 10475 • 718-320-2220
3369 E. Tremont Ave., Bronx, New York 10461 • 718-892-2235 • E-mail:

4 for 4! : Fourth “On-Time” Budget Passed
Record Amount Sent to NYC Schools

photo Governor David Paterson and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto share a few words about the successfully completed budget.

After 20 straight years of late budgets the legislature has extended its streak of “on-time” budgets to four when they finished the 2008-09 state budget in early April. Assemblyman Michael R. Benedetto, whose tenure in office has paralleled this accomplishment was philosophical on the subject, “When my class in the legislature came to Albany, I believe, we sent a message to leadership that the bickering between the houses and the different branches had to stop and the people’s business had to get done. I think they heard us.”

“Getting it done this year was a minor miracle after we had the turnover in the executive chamber, but we all rallied behind the new Governor and it got done, although a couple days late,” commented Assemblyman Benedetto.

The budget maintained the commitment made to the New York City school system to meet court ordered funding mandates resulting from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision. A record increase of $650 million was sent to the city. “We elected to keep our promise to the students of the city and I hope the Mayor does the same with the city budget,” observed the Assemblyman.

Besides the transition from Spitzer to Paterson, the budget-making process faced other challenges. The Wall Street downturn put a significant crimp in state revenues at a time when operational costs were on the rise. “The state’s economic woes left us in quite a bind – how could we give more money to education when less was coming in? I think we did a good job of trimming here and there which enabled us to do justice to our children,” concluded Assemblyman Benedetto.

2008 Summer Reading Challenge

photo Assemblyman Benedetto with the 2007 Summer Reading Challenge students at the Certificate of Merit presentation.

Assemblymember Michael R. Benedetto reminds children and families that his 2008 Summer Reading Challenge is just around the corner.

“Summer is a great time to read books. Whether you’re at home, enjoying the outdoors, or traveling to visit friends or family, reading opens your imagination and gives you the opportunity to learn many new things,” Assemblymember Benedetto said.

Assemblyman Benedetto encourages children and parents to make reading a habit through his annual Summer Reading Challenge program. To receive a New York State Assembly Excellence in Reading Certificate, children must read with a parent for 15 minutes a day, for at least 40 days throughout July and August.

“We live in a world where there is so much technology around us that it is easy to forget about the importance of reading. Studies show that children who read at home are better prepared to succeed in formal education. This program gives kids a chance to get away from their digital music and video games, televisions and computers and engage in an activity that improves spelling, vocabulary, pronunciation and reading skills. It’s a great opportunity for family and friends to spend quality time together,” Assemblymember Benedetto said.

“Reading is a fun and beneficial pastime and a crucial tool for our children’s education. Nurturing a child’s love for reading begins at home. We ask parents and children to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge and help foster a generation of lifelong readers,” said the Assemblyman.

Assemblyman Benedetto Appointed
Sub-Committee Chairman

photo Assemblyman Benedetto and Assemblywoman Nolan sit and chat in the Chamber of the State Assembly.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Education, congratulated Assemblyman Michael Benedetto for his appointment to Chair the Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs.

Assemblyman Benedetto taught special education in the New York City Public School system for 30 years before entering the state legislature. He ran the first “very special” Olympics for multiply handicapped children, as a Department of Education in-service instructor he taught other educators about special education students and the laws that govern special education, and had taught as an adjunct instructor at Mercy College.

Ms. Nolan praised his appointment, “I am thrilled that Speaker Sheldon Silver has named Assemblyman Benedetto as Chair of this important committee. His extensive experience as a teacher in special education has given him the depth of knowledge and dynamic ability crucial to understanding complex special education issues. There is no better person for the job.”

Assemblyman Benedetto thanked Ms. Nolan for the high praise and expressed his wish to live up to the expectations.

New law takes aim at Internet sex predators
e-STOP regulates sex offender use of Internet

Assemblyman Michael R. Benedetto announced that Governor Paterson signed Assembly bill A.9859-A into law to help prevent sex crimes by prohibiting inappropriate use of the Internet by sex offenders. The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act is the result of a landmark agreement with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to prevent predators from victimizing children on Internet social networking sites.

With the advent of new technology comes the need for new, appropriate regulation. This law will help keep New York safe by protecting our children on the Internet and averting future victimization.

— Assemblyman Benedetto

“Although the Internet has revolutionized communication and information gathering for the 21st century, it also provides another opportunity for sexual predators to further victimize children,” Assemblyman Benedetto said. “With this breakthrough law I sponsored, New York becomes the first state to require such stringent regulations on sex offenders’ Internet usage – a necessary step in ensuring the continued safety of our children.”

Under the law:

  • all sex offenders who are required to register under Megan’s Law must register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services all Internet accounts and provide all electronic mail addresses and designations used for the purposes of chatting, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communications;

  • registered sex offenders must notify DCJS within 10 days if that data changes, or face the current penalties under Megan’s Law for failing to register – a class E felony for a first offense and a class D felony for subsequent offenses; and

  • sex offenders’ Internet information will be made available to social networking Web sites who are authorized to prescreen or remove offenders and advise law enforcement if there is a potential violation of law or a threat to public safety.

“Social networking Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook have become daily resources for millions of young people, but they can also provide sexual predators unprecedented access to unsuspecting users – subjecting them to unwanted advances and placing them in harm’s way,” said the assemblyman. “The e-STOP law will head off these predatory encounters before they happen, preventing sexual offenses over the Internet and safeguarding our children.”

The e-STOP law also imposes four new mandatory conditions of conditional discharge, probation and parole for certain dangerous sex offenders under Megan’s Law, including:

  • a complete bar on Internet use to access pornography;

  • a ban on accessing or belonging to social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace;

  • a complete bar on using the Internet to communicate with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with minors; and

  • a bar against using the Internet to communicate with a minor unless the person is a child of the offender and the offender is not otherwise prohibited from communicating with that child.

“With the advent of new technology comes the need for new, appropriate regulation. This law will help keep New York safe by protecting our children on the Internet and averting future victimization,” concluded Assemblyman Benedetto.

Lord Mayor of Wexford and the Italian Consul Generalare Greeted by Assemblyman Benedetto in Albany


During the course of a legislative session various dignitaries will pass by the Assembly Chamber. This year two such people dropped in to pay their respects and Assemblyman Benedetto welcomed them to the State capitol. The Lord Mayor of Wexford County, Ireland, George Lawlor and the Italian Consul to New York, Francisco Marie Talo, came away impressed with the way the legislature conducted its business and with Albany in general.

Crowley and Benedetto Join in Helping PS 160


PS 160, the Walt Disney School, recently had a fund raising event at Barnes and Noble.

Congressman Joseph Crowley and Assemblyman Benedetto were enlisted to read stories to the boys and girls who had come to the bookstore. Congressmnan Crowley read “My Lucky Day,” the tale of a cunning piglet who outwits a not-so-sly fox and Assemblyman Benedetto entertained the youngsters with his rendition of “The Wolf’s Story,” a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood yarn from the point of view of the wolf. Everyone seemed to come away delighted by the readings and the fund raising event proved to be a big success.

Israeli Consul to New York Meets with Benedetto


Assemblyman Michael Benedetto spent a little time with Israeli former Consul General to New York, Arye Mekel, when he addressed the Assembly Majority delegation. The Consul General gave the legislators an overview of the middle east and the Israeli political situation and his hopes for peace in that region of the world. Consul General Mekel’s address was followed by a lengthy question and answer period where members peppered him with their concerns. Assemblyman Benedetto came away impressed with, what he considered was, “a clear and honest assessment of very complex issues.”

Joe Namath, Football Jet Legend Comes to the Assembly Chamber


Former New York Jet and football great, Joe Namath paid a visit to the Assembly chamber and stopped to say a few words with Assemblyman Benedetto. The Assemblyman told “Broadway Joe” how he remembered, and was still awed by, his great 1964 Orange Bowl performance in a losing cause when he quarterbacked for the University of Alabama. The NFL Hall of Famer winced a bit and commented, “It was one of the toughest losses ever.”

Rev. Robert Smith
Pays a Visit to the Capitol


Rev. Robert Smith of the Christ the Savior Church in Co-op City came to Albany recently and stopped by to say ‘hello’ to Assemblyman Benedetto, The Assemblyman took the reverend on a tour of the capitol and arranged for him to say the opening prayer at that day’s session. Among those who greeted Rev. Smith was Assemblyman Carl Heastie whose district borders Benedetto’s and who also is a friend of the pastor.

Senior Citizen Assault Protection Package
Passed by Assembly


Assemblyman Michael Benedetto announced that Governor Paterson signed into law a measure that makes assaulting a senior citizen a class D violent felony, helping curb predatory attacks by those who target the elderly.

“Society cannot tolerate criminals who assault and abuse the elderly,” Assemblyman Benedetto said. “Elder abuse is a heinous crime, and we must take immediate action to stop this type of violence.”

“Our senior citizens deserve to feel safe and protected,” said the Assemblyman. “This law will ensure that criminals who assault and victimize the elderly will be severely punished for their shameful behavior.”

The Assembly also passed legislation this year to combat abuse against the elderly and vulnerable that will:

  • Increase the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony if more than one vulnerable elderly person is victimized by a scam artist (A.9813);

  • Add an experienced elder law attorney to the state’s Crime Victims Board, providing valuable perspective for cases involving older New Yorkers (A.6204); and

  • Protect rent security deposits of the elderly and other New Yorkers by requiring landlords to promptly repay and account for a tenant’s security deposit at the end of a tenancy; require landlords to itemize deductions against security deposits in writing for damages to an apartment; and set penalties if landlords ignore the law, thereby helping to halt the widespread and unwarranted practice of unduly withholding tenant security deposits (A.2114);

  • Rewrite New York’s power of attorney statute to ensure that agents for the elderly, the incapacitated and anyone who has given a power of attorney, are always answerable to that person, that this powerful tool in planning for incapacity is not used to cheat and defraud, and that prosecutors can effectively seek to punish those who criminally take advantage of others (A.6421-A); and

  • Prevent debt collectors from seizing Social Security, Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security and veterans’ benefits in bank accounts up to $2,500; give notice to debtors that such funds are exempt; and bar banks from charging their processing fees against those protected assets (A.8527).

In New York State, an estimated 30,000 seniors are victims of some kind of abuse or exploitation, a low estimate according to the National Center for the Elderly Abuse, which notes that only one in six elderly abuse cases are reported. Crimes can range from physical abuse – including sexual assault – to financial exploitation and emotional abuse.

bike riders

“Safe Summer Campaign”
Pushed by Assemblyman Benedetto
Benedetto offers tips on how to keep children safe this summer

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto urged parents to take the time to be informed about important safety issues to help prevent their children from being seriously injured while participating in outdoor activities this summer.

“During the summer months kids have more freedom and tend to push the boundaries a little more – which increases the opportunity for injury,” Benedetto said. “Swimming, biking, walking, skating, and playing safely is our goal and prevention is the key.”

Benedetto noted that children ages 14 and under will be rushed to emergency rooms nearly 3 million times for serious injuries resulting from drowning, bike crashes, pedestrian incidents, falls, motor-vehicle accidents and other hazards this summer. According to Safe Kids USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and protecting families from accidental injury, 40 percent of all unintentional injury-related deaths occur from May to August – with July being the deadliest time for childhood unintentional injury.

“In five summers, 2000-2004, 82 children ages 14 and under died in New York from accidental drowning – an average of 16 kids every summer,” Benedetto said. “Practically every one of those deaths could have been prevented.”

Benedetto, a member of the NYS Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, as well as the Subcommittee on Child Product Safety, urged parents to be more observant and to review safety information before school lets out and children will be outside even more.

“Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, but we must always remember to be safe while we are having fun. Whether it’s exhibiting caution while barbecuing, wearing helmets while bicycling, wearing protective gear while skating, or applying sunscreen at the beach, we can’t forget that ‘safety first ensures a fun summer.’”

To request an Assembly “Playing it Safe” or “Bicycle Safety and the New York State Helmet Law” pamphlet, call Assemblyman Benedetto’s district office at 718-892-2235. For more information about summer safety issues, visit

“Even though the latest Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report placed New York State fourth with a low childhood unintentional injury death rate compared to other states, it is of the utmost importance that we still do everything we can to ensure that our kids have a safe summer by reminding parents of the resources available to them to help educate their children – preventing serious injury to the ones they love,” Benedetto said.