Legislative Activity June 17, 2010: Senate Passes Legislation Protecting Communities From Pollution And More

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The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation today to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of sulfur in our current heating practices. Additionally, the Senate stood by survivors of domestic violence by increasing the time they have in shelters as they seek permanent refuge from their attackers.

Reducing Sulfur to Promote Environmentally Friendly Heating

S1145C / (Perkins): Amends the environmental conservation law,  to require a reduction in sulfur for all heating oil used in the state. When number two home heating oil is burned, sulfur dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere. Estimates have shown that reducing the sulfur content of home heating oil is an important and critical step in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. By taking action to reduce sulfur content, we will lead the country in eliminating one of the causes of global warming and improving the health of those suffering from respiratory and other conditions as a result of unclean fuel.

The bill passed 32-29

Providing Domestic Violence Victims More Time to Secure A Safe Haven

S5043A / (Hassell-Thompson): Extends the maximum amount of days victims of domestic violence may stay in residential programs from 135 days to 180 days, ensuring additional time for them to secure permanent housing. As a result, this legislation seeks to address the specific problem of length of stay by extending the amount of time an eligible domestic violence victim may remain in a shelter.

The bill passed 61-0

Other Legislation

S3119C / (Huntley): Prohibits disruption of a funeral procession by making it illegal for a driver of a motor vehicle to unreasonably interfere with the orderly progression of the funeral procession. Not all citizens of this state have the honor of being assigned a police escort during a funeral procession. This bill would help maintain the dignity and respect that is due to all deceased citizens of New York state and help protect the safety of those involved in a funeral procession.

The bill passed 61-0

S7198B / (Valesky): Designates State Route 34 from Tioga County to Oswego County as the Harriet Tubman Memorial Highway. This includes the portion that goes through the City of Auburn and by the home of Harriet Tubman. There is no doubt that Harriet Tubman was one of our greatest freedom fighters, abolitionists and humanitarians helping dozens and dozens of fellow slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The bill passed 61-0

S6858 / (Breslin): Ensures continuation of a consistent Medicaid nursing home reimbursement rate for a specialty nursing home that treats neurologically impaired children who cannot be appropriately discharged into the community when they age. However, the facility has now received certificate of need approval to add 36 beds, which will result in a facility with more than 60 beds. Without a change in the law, the facility would no longer receive one rate as it would no longer meet the qualification of having less than 60 beds  even though the rationale that resulted in the enactment still applies.

The bill passed 61-0

S4536 / (Sampson): Amends the civil practice law and rules, to enforce the state court judgments  to make a technical amendment necessary to uphold the primacy of State court judgments against evasion by bankruptcy actions. Matrimonial and commercial actions in State courts routinely result in awards of real property interests. In these cases, current practice often creates a brief delay between the time a court makes the property award and the time the prevailing party reduces the award to final judgment thereafter docketed in the county where the property is located. Unlike most New York court actions and all New York court judgments, federal bankruptcy petitions are filed electronically. Thus, with the aid of now-routine technology, a party fully and fairly can litigate a matrimonial, commercial or other action in State court and then, immediately upon losing the case, e-file a petition in bankruptcy to stymie the property judgment.

The bill passed 48-13

S7099 / (Aubertine): Conforms the qualifications for obtaining a slaughterhouse license, and the conditions under which such a license may be declined, suspended or revoked, to the qualifications and conditions applicable to licensed food processing establishments. In so doing, this bill will help to ensure that only qualified applicants are licensed and that a failure to comply with appropriate sanitary and other standards will provide grounds for the denial, revocation and suspension of their slaughterhouse license.

The bill passed 61-0

S7677 / (Oppenheimer): Allows taxpayers the opportunity to elect to receive their tax receipts electronically. Taxpayers have consistently asked for this information to be placed securely online so that it is available to them whenever they need it (including weekends and evenings when municipal offices are closed) but especially, whenever they prepare their taxes. Providing access to tax receipts electronically will significantly increase access to these essential documents.

The bill passed 61-0

S5767 / (Adams): Amends the definition of naval militia to conform with federal law in recognizing it as constituting the naval forces of the state of New York. This bill seeks to specify this fact in the opening definition of the Military Law, and thereby conform such definition with both federal law and the military law.

The bill passed 61-0

S7864 / (Hassell-Thompson): Amends the Correction Law (CL) to add four new advanced skills programs to-the list of significant program accomplishments that would enable an inmate to qualify for the six-month limited credit time allowance program. The inmates acquire a unique skill and develop confidence and a level of maturity as they learn to care for another living creature with the ultimate goal of enabling a disabled individual to function independently. This program has received considerable national and local attention in the media and serves as a model for other programs which seek to pair incarcerated individuals with animals.

The bill passed 35-26

S4651 / (Sampson): Ensures that consumers utilizing rental vehicle reimbursement coverage are able to rent from the rental vehicle company of their choice. There have been instances of insurers steering their customers with rental vehicle reimbursement coverage to use one particular rental vehicle company. Consumers should not be forced to use one particular rental vehicle company or be in any way limited in their ability to utilize the coverage they purchased.

The bill passed 60-1

S4949A / (Thompson): Defines Integrated pest management to provide a basis of understanding and common understanding of the practice and intention. Although integrated pest management (IPM) is often touted as a means of reducing pesticide usage, New York State lacks a clear definition of what this actually means. This legislation would define IPM thus providing a clear and unified starting point for future development and regulation.

The bill passed 61-0

S5508A / (Klein): Amends the alcoholic beverage control law, in relation to procedures associated with issuing retail, special retail, bottle club, restaurant-brewer and cabaret licenses to sell liquor for on-premises consumption regarding premises located within five hundred feet of three or more existing premises in cities, towns and villages having a population of twenty thousand or more. This measure would require the Liquor Authority to provide written notice to the municipality or community board of all subsequent meetings on the application, as it is imperative that the community be provided an opportunity to weigh in on the application during the decision making period.

The bill passed 61-0

S6970 / (Stachowski): Allows New York State breweries to maximize the use of their premises and equipment. This and other provisions in the bill such as expanding brewery licenses to allow for the manufacture of alcoholic beverages for export are intended to promote the ability of breweries to utilize their existing facilities in the state to expand investment and create additional jobs.

The bill passed 61-0

S7417 / (Kruger): Clarifies that private veterinarians and veterinary technicians serving the State as part of an activated Emergency Veterinary Medical Corps are not prohibited from appearing before the Department of Agriculture and Markets (Department) following such service. In the event of an emergency, natural disaster or act of bioterrorism, it may be necessary for the Department to hire; on a temporary basis, private veterinarians and veterinary technicians to assist Department personnel with disease control measures, administering vaccines, euthanizing animals and conducting epidemiological investigations. At the end of their temporary employment by the Department and their return to their private veterinary practices, these veterinarians and veterinary technicians may be called upon to appear before the Department.

The bill passed 60-1

S5789A / (Breslin): Amends the tax law to grant an automatic extension of time for filing a personal income tax return and paying a personal income tax when a spouse dies within 30 days of the April 15th deadline. Allowing the 90 day extension will provide time for the surviving spouse to get their affairs in order and make a proper filing thereby saving the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance the trouble of performing an audit due to improper filing.

The bill passed 61-0

S7350A / (Johnson C): Amends the Public Officers Law to provide that any record indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement be made available to the public. It is time for New York, a state that prides itself on government access and transparency, to open up school district collective bargaining to the taxpayers who fund the contracts.

The bill passed 60-1

S5213A / (Adams): Amends the criminal procedure law to provide peace officer status to trained personnel of the physical security organization of a nuclear facility licensed by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission responsible for maintaining safeguards and protection pursuant to the licensee's security plan. Presently, due to an oversight in the law, these high level, extremely well trained personnel are not included within the definition of peace officer in the state's criminal procedure law. This bill would remedy this oversight and assure that these personnel would have state peace officer status to accompany their recognition under federal law.

The bill passed 61-0

S5803B / (Klein): Encourages those who hold a license to sell alcoholic beverages, and their employees, to attend alcohol training awareness programs in an effort to stem underage drinking and alcohol over consumption. Alcohol Training Awareness Programs, authorized by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) are currently available to licensees and their employees. Such programs, however, are under-attended. By providing incentives for participation in the State's Alcohol Training Awareness Programs, this legislation should encourage those who hold a license to sell alcoholic beverages and their employees, to attend alcohol training awareness programs to help stem underage drinking and alcohol over-consumption.

The bill passed 61-0

S7400A / (Stewart-Cousins): Amends the general municipal law, to conflicts of interest of municipal officers and employees, codes of ethics and boards of ethics. At a time when public integrity and ethics are at the forefront of concern in the State, it is appropriate to recommit efforts to ensure that local government officials adhere to high standards of conduct. This legislation would address these concerns by strengthening current law in a number of ways.

The bill passed 57-0

S7723 / (Duane): Improves the health, safety and quality of life of New York residents living in adult care facilities. Adult homes, enriched housing programs and residences for adults -collectively referred to as adult care facilities are important models of care that serve as the homes of thousands of New York State residents. The bill would allow individuals who are appropriate for placement in an EALR to be admitted from other settings, such as the community, other ALRs or other EALRs, but reiterates that a resident requiring 24 hour nursing or medical care may not be admitted to an EALR.

The bill passed 61-0

S4823 / (Aubertine): Amends the public authorities law, in relation to allowing Onondaga county water authority to operate and maintain the town of Constantia water system. The town of Constantia is constructing a new water supply and distribution system to provide municipal water to many of their residents and has requested that the Onondaga County Water Authority maintain that water system and provide water to the system.

The bill passed 61-0

S8060 / (Huntley): Amends a chapter of the laws of 2010 that will authorize the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York ("DASNY") to provide construction related services to the Broad Channel Volunteers, Inc., doing business as Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps. In addition, this legislation identifies the address of the physical property owned by the Broad Channel Volunteers Inc.  where the construction of the facility will occur.

The bill passed 61-0

S5292C / (Squadron): Penalizes vehicle operators who injure others when failing to exercise due care while operating a motor vehicle. At present in New York State vehicular homicide charges, such as criminally negligent homicide, are rarely pursued. This legislation addresses this by providing district attorneys with an additional option that maybe appropriate in certain cases.

The bill passed 38-23

S5634 / (Savino): Removes restrictions on designation of officers or employees of subsidiary corporations of the MTA and provide that such employees be deemed as public officers or public employees. The current language of this section of law prohibits the MTA Capital Company from hiring civil service employees. As a result, MTA employees must borrow employees in professional titles such as architects, engineers, draft persons and others from parts of the MTA. This legislation will remove this barrier and provide the MTA Capital Company with qualified, civil servants who in addition to their services, will help save the MTA millions in public dollars, being the will perform work in house instead of contracting out.

The bill passed 61-0

S6680 / (Krueger): Provides for a uniform allowable resource exemption and disregard for an applicant or recipient with an automobile. The law provides a lower amount unless the automobile is being used to seek or retain employment. The current structure does not adequately contemplate the effects of inflation or other auto uses such as the pursuit of education. This legislation will provide a uniform automobile resource limit that is practical and fair to those individual. who depend on their cars to facilitate their struggle out of poverty.

The bill passed 38-23

S7451 / (Savino): Makes permanent the right of home-based child care providers to unionize. Child care providers perform an essential service for working parents in this state by offering a safe, educational, affordable. and enjoyable home-like environment for children. It is in the best interest of the state to develop a child care delivery system that fosters quality child care options for working families whose child care needs are not currently always being met by traditional child care programs.

The bill passed 57-4

S7121 / (Stavisky): Amends the education law relating to physical therapy assistants, in relation to extending the effective date thereof. These services are allowed when the supervising physical therapist establishes a program of care for a patient, has an initial joint visit with the patient and the physical therapy assistant, periodically evaluates and treats such patient and provides a final evaluation to determine if the treatment plan should be terminated.  This program has been successfully in place since 1993 and should be continued.

The bill passed 61-0

S7439 / (Dilan): Requires individuals completing driver education to have 50 hours of driving experience before taking a road test and would make a technical amendment to the graduated licensing law. Although a driver education course is valuable, most such courses only provide 6 hours of on-road experience. Under this proposal, all license applicants who are under the age of 18 must submit the proof of additional on-the-road driving experience.

The bill passed 61-0

S5711B / (Dilan): Designs more complete streets that enable safe access for all users: bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and passengers, motorists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Our streets should be designed for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, or bus rider. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Simply increasing bicycling from 1% to 1.5% of all trips in the U.S. would save 462 million gallons of gasoline each year.

The bill passed 57-4

S7885A / (Dilan): Ensures that franchised motor vehicle dealers have given their actual consent to franchisor programs that include a dealer expense. Motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors run a number of programs and promotions, and those programs and promotions change frequently.  This bill requires that the dealer's written consent be given within the sixty days prior to the dealer's participation. If a dealer wishes to end participation despite the program's or promotion's renewal, the dealer must give written notice within thirty days of renewal.

The bill passed 61-0

S7438 / (Dilan): Enhances consumer protection by authorizing the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to temporarily suspend a repair shop registration; and streamlines the repair shop appeals process by eliminating the specialized Repair Shop Review Board and allowing DMV's Administrative Appeals Board to hear these cases. Not only would eliminating the Repair Shop Review Board make the appeals process more efficient, but it would also reduce the time it takes for appeals to be decided and provide better response to consumers. Currently, consumers who file complaints against a repair shop may have to wait months for a decision, which unnecessarily delays possible restitution. This proposal should ensure that cases are decided more quickly, which would benefit both repair shop owners and consumers.

The bill passed 40-21

S6762  / (Little): Authorizes certain health care professionals licensed to practice in other jurisdictions to practice in this state in connection with an event sanctioned by the World Triathlon Corporation. This legislation would allow licensed health care professionals from other states who volunteer and are sanctioned by World Triathlon Corporation to perform services for the athletes.

The bill passed 61-0

S6975A / (Fuschilo): Authorizes the Long Island Progressive Missionary Baptist Churches General Association to file an application for a real property tax exemption. Long Island Progressive Missionary Baptist Churches General Association owns a piece of real property located in the Town of Babylon for the purpose of operating a headquarters for their religious organization. It is intended by this pill to undo the hardships that will be suffered if the Association is required to pay the property taxes due as described above.

The bill passed 60-1