After the Dust Settles

A good session for Syracuse and Central New York

Despite the unexpected and difficult start to this year’s legislative session, my Assembly colleagues and I made great strides and great successes. We passed a timely budget and numerous bills improving the safety of New Yorkers, addressing the rising costs of energy, protecting the elderly, cleaning up the environment and bringing tax relief to those who need it most.

First and foremost, I sponsored legislation to keep the New York Telecommunications Relay Service Center in Syracuse, saving over 100 jobs from elimination (Ch. 128 of 2008). The center provides TTY service for deaf and hearing impaired citizens across New York and is a valuable asset to the Syracuse area.

The Electronic Security and Targeting Online Predators Act (e-STOP), which I supported and is now law, prohibits the inappropriate use of the Internet by sex offenders. We also passed legislation I supported that provides for the immediate termination of teachers, school administrators and counselors who are convicted of a sex offense (A.11500-A). In addition, numerous other bills I sponsored passed both houses.

These successes include the Omnibus Alzheimer Services Act of 2008, which I authored, creating the Silver Alert System, similar to the Amber Alert System, which I brought to Onondaga County in 1997. This bill will aid law enforcement personnel in locating missing citizens who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia (A.10265-B). This bill would allow the Director of the Office of Aging to contract with non-profits to educate law enforcement agencies about cognitive impairments and the best uses of locater equipment to find these missing persons. If made law, New York will become one of only a handful of states taking this initiative to protect one of our most vulnerable populations.

Other legislation I authored that I hope will be signed by the governor:

  • A bill to establish the New York State Greenhouse Gases Management Research and Development Program under NYSERDA to provide grants for research to promote new technologies and processes to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere (A.3414-A);
  • A bill enabling the Canal Flood Mitigation Task Force to study the flooding in the Oswego River Basin and recommend ways to manage the yearly flooding (A.9667-A); and
  • A bill that would waive court fees associated with court action necessitated by being called to active duty for citizen soldiers (A.4323-A).

This session I also succeeded in securing funding for many worthy services and projects in the

Syracuse area:

  • $20 million for the Connective Corridor, a cultural development initiative;
  • $5 million for continued renovations of the Hotel Syracuse; and
  • $600,000 for the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and CNY for ecodevelopment and job creation.

I also fought to increase funding for local cities, towns and villages to lessen the property tax burden on homeowners with an increase in the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities program (AIM) by 11 percent in Syracuse, and 5 percent in Geddes, Solvay and Baldwinsville and an increase in the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) by 18 percent in Syracuse, and 19 to 22 percent in Geddes, Solvay and Baldwinsville.

We accomplished a lot this year, taking great strides toward solving the problems that New Yorkers face. I will continue to work in Albany and at home to make New York a better place to live.