By on February 04, 2013 at 7:15 PM, updated February 05, 2013 at 6:48 AM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Certifying mold remediation contractors and using "soft barriers" to protect the shoreline are among the recommendations of the New York Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy.
"Now that the state budget process has begun and we've seen first-hand the devastation and obstacles our neighbors are having to endure, it is critically important that we ensure federal, state and local resources are maximized and targeted to bring swift relief for short-term and long-term recovery," Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), co-chair of the task force, said in a statement.
Among their key findings and preliminary recommendations are a plan to develop certification and licensing procedures for mold remediation contractors; supplementing business loan programs with direct grants to businesses hit hard by Sandy; working with the Department of Financial Services to expedite insurance claim checks; developing better statewide plans for gasoline distribution; and exploring soft barriers as a way to mitigate future storm damage.
Lanza's co-chair, Sen. Malcolm A. Smith (D-Queens), called it "one of the most important legislative collaborations" in which he ever took part.
"Task Force members and staff have been hard at work identifying the most pressing needs of Sandy's victims and developing innovative ways to solve the most complex problems. As I've seen each and every day in my district, Sandy victims need help, plain and simple. I am pleased that today can take a big step forward toward delivering the type of help these folks need," Smith said.
Lanza and Smith have also been named co-chairs of the Senate's budget committee on Sandy, which will review Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposals and make recommendations to the Senate.
Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn), also a member of the task force, said thousands of families in Staten Island and Brooklyn are still picking up the pieces after Sandy.
"Over the next weeks and months, nothing can be more important to us as legislators than rebuilding the homes, communities, and businesses that are still reeling. My Task Force colleagues and I are committed to getting affected New Yorkers the resources they need to not only rebuild, but to rebuild in a stronger, safer, and better prepared state," she said.
Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), Independent Democratic Conference Leader, called the task force's work emblematic of the "meaningful, bipartisan results" they hope to deliver.
"I want to thank the Task Force's members and their staff for the hard work and the long-hours they've continually dedicated to this critically important effort. I look forward to implementing the Task Force's final recommendations in the weeks ahead," he said.
Also serving on the task force are Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick); Sen. James Sanders, Jr. (D-Queens), Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola); Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland); Sen. Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn); Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Queens); Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley); and Sen. Phil Boyle (R -Suffolk County).