Fighting the Rent Guidelines Board’s Proposed Rent Increases

Please see attached testimony I submitted on June 20 to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) opposing any rent increases for rent regulated apartments as well as for lofts, hotels, rooming houses, single room occupancy buildings and lodging houses.  Given the continuing toll the recent economic recession has taken on average New Yorkers and the steady rent increases the RGB has approved in prior years, I am dismayed that the RGB approved rent increases of 3.75% for one-year and 7.25% for two-year rent stabilized leases.  The approval of these increases is further evidence that the RGB system is broken and unjust.  In addition to sponsoring (and advocating for) every pro-tenant bill, I am the author and prime sponsor of legislation that would reform the rent board

NYS Sen Duane RGB Testimony 2011.pdf

June 28, 2011

Ensuring Culturally Competent Aging Services for LGBT and other Underserved New Yorkers

The passage of Marriage Equality was not the only legislative victory for LGBT New Yorkers this year.  On June 14, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed my bill (S.1303) which requires the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) to assess the needs of traditionally underserved older adults—including veterans, immigrants, the disabled and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. This legislation will help ensure that traditionally underserved communities have access to appropriate health services.

June 28, 2011

Statement of NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane on the New York State Senate Passing Historic Marriage Equality Legislation

There are rare moments when the historical significance of an action speaks for itself and words can’t capture the magnitude.  This is one such moment.Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) New Yorkers will no longer be denied the right to marry the ones they love.  For the first time in New York’s rich history they will be granted equal protection under the law.

June 24, 2011

Passing Landmark Autism Insurance Reform

On June 17, the Senate passed landmark legislation requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.I worked closely with the bill’s prime sponsor Senator Charles Fuschillo (R–Merrick), Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee Chair Roy McDonald (R–Saratoga), Senate Insurance Committee Ranker Neil Breslin (D, WFP–Albany) and Senate Health Chair Kemp Hannon (R, C, I–Garden City) to craft this comprehensive legislation which will provide relief to countless New York families suffering from the financial toll that comes with autism.

June 17, 2011

Fighting for Stronger Rent Regulation

On the night of June 15th, one hour before the Rent Regulations were set to expire, I, along with the majority of my Democratic Colleagues, refused to support with our votes a proposal that would have extended the current rent regulations for an additional two days. This legislation was designed to allow the legislature and the governor more time to negotiate the Rent Laws.Enough. We have waited far too long for Albany to negotiate in good faith a fair, and comprehensive rent control package which protects tens of thousands of New Yorkers from predatory landlords and their connected friends in Albany who are trying to eliminate and destroy our precious affordable housing stock.

June 16, 2011

Martin Treat

Martin Treat served as a Specialist in the Army Air Cavalry during the Vietnam War and received Service, Commendation and Air Medals for honorable and meritorious performance of his duty.  His service to his country did not end after he returned home from Vietnam in 1970, as he has dedicated himself to his community both in his professional life and in his volunteer activities ever since. 

June 9, 2011

Introducing a Single Payer Health Care Plan for all New Yorkers

On June 7, New York State Assembly Health Committee Chair Dick Gottfried and I introduced a single-payer health care bill (A.7860/S.5425) that would ensure comprehensive health care coverage for all New Yorkers regardless of income.  Under the plan, publicly-sponsored coverage would replace insurance company coverage, and premiums would be replaced by broad-based public financing.

June 7, 2011

Seeking Justice for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

The decades-long, systematic cover-up of childhood sexual abuse by institutions and persons in a position of authority is well known, and yet New York State’s antiquated statute of limitation laws have barred victims, who do not come to terms with what has happened to them until much later in life, from seeking justice. As a passionate advocate for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse as well as for redress and closure for adults living with its traumatic scars, I have long sponsored legislation that would create a one year window period to allow past survivors of sex abuse to come forward with claims regardless of when the abuse occurred.

May 26, 2011

Seeking a Far Broader Scope of Work for NYU's Core Project

On May 24, I submitted testimony at the New York City Department of City Planning's (DCP) hearing on New York University's (NYU) draft scope of work for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for NYU's Core Project. I certainly appreciate the role NYU plays as an economic, cultural and intellectual engine for our City. Yet I am quite concerned about the impacts of the particular expansion NYU seeks to undertake, which would add approximately 2.5 million gross square feet of new uses to its core campus in historic Greenwich Village and for which it is seeking numerous discretionary actions, some of which would open the door for even greater development and change than NYU has proposed .

May 25, 2011

Thanking All Who Participated in the St. Vincent’s Community Health Assessment Survey

May 13 was the last day for community members to fill out the St. Vincent’s Community Health Assessment Survey, which was created and distributed by the Lower West Side Health Needs Assessment Steering Committee and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in order to learn how the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital has affected area residents’ health care.

May 16, 2011

Phyllis E. Gunther

Phyllis E. Gunther, a longtime leader from Ansonia Independent Democrats, Manhattan Community Board 7 (CB7) member and advocate for social and economic justice, has been a cornerstone of the Upper West Side community in which she has been active for well over four decades.

As one of the longest-serving members of CB7, Ms. Gunther has played a leading role in many local initiatives, including improving access to public transportation, the development of a­ ordable housing and the redevelopment of the 59th Street Recreation Center—an invaluable resource for area children and families, particularly those of limited means.

May 11, 2011

Marking the Implementation of the Illegal Hotels Law

Last year, the New York State Legislature passed legislation signed into law by then Governor David Paterson that would clarify that Class A multiple dwelling residential buildings may only be used as long-term residential housing, and not as transient, “illegal” hotels. This law, designed to fight the proliferation of illegal hotels, was slated to take effect May 1, 2011.  However, illegal hotel operators filed a lawsuit and sought a preliminary injunction, threatening to postpone the implementation date of the bill.

May 2, 2011

Celebrating the opening of GMHC’s New Home

On April 29, I was honored to speak at the grand opening of the new home of GMHC, the nation’s oldest AIDS service organization.  Now located at 446 West 33rd Street, GMHC will continue to provide a wide range of services including health and nutrition education, legal, housing and mental health support, hot meals, vocational training and case management to nearly 11,000 New Yorkers affected by HIV/AIDS each year.  GMHC’s HIV prevention and testing programs are being expanded separately in the new GMHC Center for HIV Prevention at 224 West 29th Street.  As I noted in my remarks, GMHC continues to play a critical role in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy and to be a tremendous partner in the fight to end the epidemic.  As

April 29, 2011

Demanding Fair Calculation of Reregulated Rents at ST/PCV and Other Illegally Deregulated Apartments

In late March, I joined New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and New York City Councilmember Dan Garodnick in spearheading a letter signed by 77 Federal, State and City elected officials to the Office of Housing Preservation at New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), which had been asked to review the application of the rent laws in light of the State Court of Appeals ruling in Roberts v.

April 19, 2011

Continuing to Seek Improvements in the M15 Select Bus Service

My office continues to follow up with MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) to address ongoing concerns about implementation of the M15 Select Bus Service (SBS), including ticket machines that frequently jam or run out of paper, leaving passengers unable to purchase tickets.  As I noted in my February report, NYCT assured me that it was developing a software update that would enable it to track when machines have run low on paper so that agency crews may refill them as soon as they are empty.  NYCT has now informed me that pilot test software will be installed on select SBS ticket machines by the end of April and will roll out to all machines by the end of May.  I will continue to monitor NYCT's progress in this and other efforts to improve customers' SBS experience.  In

April 13, 2011

Seeking to Preserve and Strengthen Rent Regulation and Tenant Protections

I am tremendously disappointed that New York State's Fiscal Year 2011-12 Enacted Budget did not include renewal and strengthening of our rent regulation system.  I am continuing to work with my progressive colleagues in the State Senate and leaders in the tenants rights movement to ensure both the renewal of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act before it expires on June 15 of this year and the expansion of tenant protections. I am a co-sponsor of an omnibus tenant protection bill (S.2783-A/ Espaillat), which, among other provisions, would:

April 2, 2011

FY 2011-2012 Budget Update

Shortly after midnight on March 31, the New York State Legislature enacted the Fiscal Year 2011-2012 State Budget.  The $132.5 billion budget, which was the first one in five years to pass on time, reduces overall spending by two percent and has no new taxes or borrowing. 

April 1, 2011

Organizing to Ensure Fair Labor Practices

On March 26, I joined the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, community and faith-based organizations and other elected officials in announcing the launch of the Sweatshop Free Upper West Side campaign, an effort to compel area businesses to enforce fair labor practices.  As I said at the event, “100 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire—the worst industrial disaster in the history of New York City, which became the rallying cry for workplace safety standards and spawned the international labor movement—we must honor the legacy of those who perished by ensuring that the rights of workers are respected by every business and for every employee.”

March 28, 2011

Seeking Your Experiences: The St. Vincent’s Community Health Assessment Survey

A credible and exhaustive analysis of our community’s unmet needs is still necessary to convince the New York State Department of Health, hospital executives and other health care providers of service gaps that must be filled.

March 25, 2011

Fighting to Save our Senior Centers

I am strongly opposed to the proposal in Governor Cuomo’s Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Executive Budget that would result in a reduction of $25.2 million in Title XX funding for New York City senior centers and effectively force 105 of them – including the Stein Senior Center in CB6 – to be closed.  This would be devastating to the elderly New Yorkers who rely upon these centers for meal programs, activities and companionship, which are critical for their well-being and prevent their premature institutionalization.

March 15, 2011