2001-03-14 / Political Page

Maltese On Education Task Force;

Maltese On Education Task Force;

Mayersohn, Lafayette Health Care Bills Passed


State Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) has been appointed to the seven-member New York State Task Force on Election Modernization, a bipartisan panel created last month by Governor George Pataki.

The panel is charged with examining the methods for conducting and administering elections and recommending ways to ensure the accuracy and fairness of elections. It will issue an interim report to the governor prior to this year’s general elections with recommendations on electoral improvements that can be implemented prior to those elections. A final report, due Apr. 15, will contain proposals for long-range steps which the state can take to modernize and improve the electoral system.

In creating the Task Force, the governor had stated: "Every citizen must have confidence that their right to vote is respected and honored, and that every vote is counted accurately and equally."

Maltese declared: "The recent presidential election made election reform a paramount issue across the country." He said he looked forward "to working to enhance voter confidence in our electoral process and make our elections more efficient."

PARTY VOTE ON BUSH TAX CUT: The state’s Congressional delegation voted on strict party lines last week on President George W. Bush’s $1.6 trillion 10-year tax cut proposal, except for Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Bayside/Long Island) who was recorded as absent in a New York Times report on the voting. Ackerman was noted as "absent or did not vote."

Among the 19 Democrats who voted against the massive, controversial tax cut were all those whose districts include a part of Queens. All 12 Republican Congressmembers backed the Republican president.

When the bill comes up in the United States Senate, New York’s representatives, Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton are expected to vote against it.

SCHUMER’S TUITION TAX DEDUCTION PLAN: In another income tax-related matter, Schumer has introduced a bill to make college tuition tax-deductible for millions of middle class and working-class families and to "help those saddled with debt" to repay student loans.

The bill was co-sponsored by two Republicans. It would allow any family earning less than $109,250 a year to deduct $12,000 from personal income to help cover college tuition costs.

Families earning less than $100,000 a year would get a tax credit up to $1,500 per year for interest paid on student loans over the first five years of repayment.

Schumer estimated the measure could save a typical family $3,360 in tuition costs and $1,500 in interest savings.

NEW STATE GOP CHIEF OFFERS BLOOMBERG AID: One of the first statements issued by Sandy Treadwell after his being elected as the new state Republican Party chairman was that he stands ready to help Michael Bloomberg if Bloomberg becomes the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City this year.

Treadwell, a 54-year-old millionaire, also said he wants the party to try to attract more blacks, Latinos, Asians and gays as members. Blacks and Hispanics played an important part in electing Hillary Rodham Clinton as United States Senator last year, and state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, the first black to hold statewide elective office, is seeking to become the Democratic candidate to oppose Pataki next year.

HEALTH CARE ACCESS: A bill to enable workers with disabilities to buy Medicaid health care coverage, sponsored in part by Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights), has passed the Assembly.

"The measure will not only increase employment of the state’s disabled population, it will also offer an added sense of dignity and self-fulfillment as productive members of their communities," Lafayette said.

Explaining that under existing law, disabled persons capable of working are forced to keep earnings low in order to keep their Medicaid coverage, Lafayette said the bill will allow persons with disabilities to become self-supportive without losing the health coverage they need. He added, "People with disabilities should not be forced to turn down jobs because of the risk of losing their health benefits."

MORE ON HEALTH CARE: In another health care-related matter, Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn (D–Flushing) sponsored a bill, which passed, to restore state Insurance Department reviews of health insurance premium increases over five percent a year and to hold hearings on applications for increases of that amount.

Mayersohn said her office has been flooded with complaints of health care companies increasing premiums by as much as 40 percent.

She explained, "Until January 1, 2000, rate hikes in excess of 10 percent had to be approved by the state Insurance Department after public hearings". The Assembly voted to extend the law, but the state Senate did not, so on Jan. 1 of this year tens of thousands of insurance subscribers were hit with increases up to 40 percent.

SPEAKERS: State Senator Toby Stavisky (D–Flushing) and Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer (D–Rockaway) will discuss the current situation regarding city and state funding for CUNY and the government’s future role in higher education at a forum being held by Queens College tomorrow at noon at the college’s Student Union Building.

GOP CLUB MEETS: The Middle Village Republican Club will hear a talk by Peter Goslett, director of community affairs at the city Department of Transportation, at its meeting next Monday (Mar. 19) at 8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 79-02 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village. Club President Joseph Suraci said, "Complaints regarding specific traffic problems may be raised at the meeting."


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