2007-06-27 / Features

Queens Lawmakers' Bills Pass Just Before Legislative Session Ends

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Although the 2007 legislative session ended last week with bitter feelings between Governor Eliot Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, several Queens lawmakers' bills were passed before the closing bell rang.

Among those measures were bills sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris and state Senator Frank Padavan.

Spitzer blasted the Republican-controlled senate for adjourning with several important bills unaddressed. Among these, he said, were campaign finance reform, power plant siting and brownfields legislation.

Not listed by the governor but also not acted on was Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial plan to limit traffic in Midtown Manhattan.

Bruno responded to Spitzer's blasts by saying his Republican senate members joined him in reminding New Yorkers that "the governor's priorities are wrong, misplaced and self-serving".

Spitzer's greatest disappointment was that Bruno refused to act on the governor's campaign finance reform plan, which had been one of Spitzer's promises during last year's election campaign.

Meanwhile, two bills sponsored by Gianaris (D- Astoria) were passed. Both dealt with airport-related matters.

After the plot to blow up gas tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport was aborted by the FBI, Gianaris and Senator Dean Skelos from Long Island put in a bill which would empower the state Office of Homeland Security to conduct annual security reviews of gas pipelines at JFK, which were targeted by terrorists.

The legislation also grants the state Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority to mandate implementation of any recommendations contained within these annual reviews.

The other Gianaris bill which won final approval was the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, which grew out of horrendous flight delays at La Guardia and JFK last February.

The legislation requires that airlines provide water, fresh air, food and clean bathrooms if loaded planes are forced to remain on the ground at New York airports for more than three hours.

Noting that in some cases passengers were stuck in aircraft on the ground for many hours at a stretch, Gianaris said, "People in prison camps don't get treated this badly."

The major Padavan bill that passed would eliminate the New York City portion of the sales tax on all clothing and footwear purchases in the city of New York.

Presently, clothing and footwear costing more than $110 per article is taxable, but Padavan's bill eliminates that tax, saving New Yorkers $110 million or more per year.

Padavan said, "This is a major victory for the pocketbooks, budgets and checkbooks of all New Yorkers. I urge Governor Spitzer to sign this into law and continue the thriving economic renaissance in New York City."

Padavan (R- C, Bellerose) teamed with Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D- Little Neck) on two other bills. One would allow disabled persons to travel on Access-A-Ride buses between Queens and Nassau Counties. Presently, when a Queens bus reaches the Queens/Nassau border, the MTA requires the passengers to disembark and take a Nassau bus into that county.

The second Weprin/Padavan bill to pass allows residents to post signs on their lawns saying that distributed advertisements and solicitations shall not be placed on their property. If those distributing the materials fail to comply, hefty fines can be imposed.

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