2015-06-24 / Political Page

Simotas Scores Major Women’s Health Care Victory

Both houses of the State Legislature in Albany passed significant bipartisan healthcare legislation last week which will allow women who become pregnant to apply for health insurance at any time, and guarantees access for any woman to vital prenatal care, according to Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who introduced the bill in the Assembly.

State Senator James Seward (R) Chairman of the Insurance Committee, sponsored the same bill in his House and it was also approved. It now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

Simotas (D–Astoria) said if the Governor signs the bill into law, “New York state would become the first state in the nation to advance legislation to ensure prenatal care for all.”

The legislation was applauded enthusiastically by leaders of prestigious women’s healthcare organizations, such as Planned Parenthood of New York City, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and Family Planning Advocates of New York, to name just a few.

Simotas (D–Astoria) said if the Governor signs the bill into law, “New York state would become the first state in the nation to advance legislation to ensure prenatal care for all.” Simotas (D–Astoria) said if the Governor signs the bill into law, “New York state would become the first state in the nation to advance legislation to ensure prenatal care for all.” Typical of their reactions, Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, stated that her organization “…applauds Assemblymember Aravella Simotas for championing this legislation to expand access to health care for pregnant New Yorkers. It’s essential that women who are uninsured when they become pregnant have the opportunity to get insurance… This legislation will improve the health of pregnant women, their families, and their communities.”

Simotas explained that, “Under current law, New Yorkers can enroll in health insurance only during a designated open enrollment period, unless they experience a qualifying event triggering a special enrollment period… While giving birth opens enrollment, becoming pregnant does not.”

But Simotas continued, “This new legislation closes this loophole, allowing women who become pregnant to apply for [health] insurance at any time and guarantees access to prenatal care.”

Simotas emphasized, “Prenatal care is essential for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Children born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth rate, and five times more likely to die, than those whose mothers received prenatal care. This costly care was out of reach for many uninsured New Yorkers.”

Simotas summed up, “Today, New York State took a major step towards establishing access to prenatal care as a right for all women, regardless of income. I know firsthand how important prenatal care is and I am so grateful to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer for championing this issue. I applaud Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin Cahill and State Senators Seward, Liz Krueger and Kemp Hannon (R–LI) for their hard work in ensuring that women’s and children’s health is not placed at the mercy of an arbitrary date on the calendar.”

Seward, chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, stated:

“Quality prenatal health care is vital to ensuring the well-being of both mother and child alike. Clearing insurance hurdles to help pregnant women access health care will help head off a number of health risks and provide long-term cost savings to the state’s healthcare system.”

Stringer, who issued a report high-lighting the need for expanded access to vital prenatal care, stated:

“As my report made clear earlier this year, the failure to provide prenatal care to mothers and their children hurts public health and the economy. Today’s historic legislation ensures that every woman in New York state will be able to enroll in health insurance when they become pregnant. “He thanked all those responsible for helping the bill pass and urged Gov. Cuomo to sign the bill into law.

Assemblymember Cahill said, “Improving access to health care for pregnant women and assuming appropriate neonatal care is the surest way to produce healthy children. Assemblywoman Simotas, together with advocates like the March of Dimes, have been tenacious in making sure this coverage is available. They and the legislature should be applauded.”

State Senator Liz Krueger stated: “I am extremely gratified that together we were able to take this bill over the finish line and ensure that every woman in New York [state] has the opportunity to purchase health insurance during pregnancy. Thank you to Assemblywoman Simotas, Senators Seward and Hannon, Comptroller Stringer and all the advocates who have supported this effort.”

Dr. Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, a volunteer at March of Dimes New York Chapter’s Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee stated: “Without this new law, women who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid could find themselves without coverage options unless they discovered they were pregnant within the short open enrollment period.” He commended Simotas, Seward and all others who helped pass the new law.

Carol Blowers, of Family Planning Advocates of New York said: Today the Assembly acted in the best interest of New York State by connecting pregnant women to insurance coverage at a time when access to health care is extremely critical to the health and longterm well-being of women and their children.”

Andrea Miller, President, NARAL Pro- Choice said: We “applaud the State Legislature for passing this common-sense legislation that ensures that pregnant women get the prenatal care they need, when they need it most.”

Elie Ward, Director of Policy and Advocacy, New York State American Academy of Pediatrics said: “Adding pregnancy to the list of qualifying events which trigger a special enrollment option for insurance… is critical to assuring access for all women to vital, comprehensive prenatal care.”

Donna Lieberman, NY Civil Liberties Union Executive Director said: “No woman should have to forego prenatal care simply because she cannot afford the hefty out-ofpocket costs. The bills passed today will significantly reduce barriers to pregnancy related care by ensuring pregnant New Yorkers have access to health insurance.”

Donna Montalto, Executive Director of American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said: “We congratulate and commend Assemblywoman Simotas… for working together to ensure women can access prenatal care as soon as they know they are pregnant. This bill will provide women the best opportunity for a healthy pregnancy and babies a healthy beginning.”

CALL ON MAYOR TO FUND WOMEN’S HEALTH INITIATIVE: Members of the City Council Women’s Caucus and city health organizations, citing nearly $4 million for women’s services being in danger of being lost, called on the de Blasio administration to provide this critical support system.

Councilwomen Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale), Co-Chair of the city Council’s Women’s’ Caucus, joined with other women’s and health groups to make this plea because the funding from the budget ordinarily supports the Women’s Health Initiative, including funding for low-income, medically underserved populations. But this year, so far, this money is not included in the budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

Crowley stated, “This initiative will give women access to life-saving services. Women need a specific form of care, for we are vulnerable to specific types of illnesses. These health services address some of those illnesses, including certain forms of cancer and complications before, during and after child birth. We must give our support to in turn support the thousands of women and mothers these agencies fight for every day.”

Crowley said in a release that “for the better half of a decade, the city provided funding that supported women’s health services, including access to family planning and perinatal care, as well as cancer screenings and treatment.”

Continuing, the statement said, “at the end of the Bloomberg administration, a total of nearly $4 million was baselined for groups such as Planned Parenthood for its Family Planning Initiative and more, as well as the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, which is comprised of a network of organizations that provide a range of services to mothers during and after child birth, including perinatal care.

“Also included were services that provided for early cancer detection programs, ensuring thousands of medically underserved women access to life-saving screenings, treatments, education and support.”

But this year, the statement concludes: “This money is not included in the budget for Fiscal Year 16.”

Crowley and the City Council Women’s Caucus, expressing fear that the nearly $4 million in services is in danger of being lost, called on the city “to provide this critical support system, compiled under the Women’s Health Initiative.”

Adding her voice to the possible loss of funding, Anna Kril, founder and President of Astoria/Queens SHAREing & CAREing stated: “The loss of the Cancer Initiative funding in the FY 16 budget will significantly impact our ability to assist cancer survivors and their families. Cancer initiative funding has allowed SHAREing & CAREing to provide thousands of cancer survivors and their families with counseling, benefit and medical information, education and hope. Through our telephone hotline, educational symposiums, cancer screenings and local office, we assist approximately 4,000 to 5,000 individuals a year, with an emphasis on medically underinsured and uninsured linguistically isolated, minority populations throughout the city.”

Crowley noted that for Fiscal Year 16, “The administration has provided RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for services tailored to prostate and colon cancer as well as breast-feeding initiatives. While these are important issues that should be addressed, we can’t simply forget about the entire population – the women and mothers who are directly affected by certain types of cancer and complicated births.”

ADDABBO-BACKED BILL TO COMBAT YOUTH SUICIDE PASSES SENATE: Noting that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the United States, state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. applauded the recent State Senate passage of a bill he co-sponsored which requires development of materials focusing on suicide prevention and signs of depression among school-aged children.

“There is no question that early intervention and recognition of suicidal behavior is key to preventing these heart-breaking incidents among students,” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) declared.

The lawmaker, a member of the Senate Education Committee, noted: “With teen suicide approaching epidemic proportions, we need to keep our eyes wide open – paying close attention to our children, both at home and at school and working to better recognize the signs of impending tragedy.”

Addabbo noted that the bill, which has gone to the Assembly Education Committee for consideration, requires the State Education Department (SED) and Office of Mental Health (OMH) to develop materials on suicide prevention and signs of depression to be made available through their public websites.

In addition, SED would be charged with ensuring that suicide prevention instruction is provided to secondary school-aged children by certified health education teachers.

“By teaching our teachers about the signs of potential suicidal tendencies,” Addabbo emphasized, “and helping our young people to understand the gravity of this problem – and to know that help is available – I hope that we’ll see fewer students giving up on life before they’ve had a chance to live it,” said Addabbo.

“Our school-age children are already going through so many physical, emotional and psychological changes as they grow up, which may make some of our youth more susceptible to self-harm. We already know that kids can be cruel at times, and when you add in easy access to social media that can used for ceaseless and horrific bullying, we’re looking at a recipe for possible disaster.”

As the father of two daughters, Addabbo said he is committed to ensuring that all students in New York State are provided with support systems and programs that could very well mean the difference between life and death for at risk-youth.

“As a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and grief of losing a child, particularly by their own hand,” he said. “This educational outreach could help to ensure that fewer mothers and fathers are ever placed in a position of suffering these insurmountable and senseless tragedies.”

GIANARIS GETS TOUGH ON DANGEROUS SCOFFLAW DRIVERS: Addressing drivers who “should not be on the road,” State Senator Michael Gianaris has authored and passed legislation cracking down on drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving with revoked, suspended or otherwise invalid driver’s licenses.

The bill would make such an event a felony, he stated, and is included in Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero agenda. Gianaris (D–Western Queens) also said Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D–Maspeth) is sponsoring Gianaris’ bills in the Assembly.

Gianaris stated, “I am glad the Senate passed my proposal to get tough on dangerous drivers. We must crack down on drivers who should not be on the road before the next tragedy occurs, not after. Too many families have grieved at too many vigils, and too many pedestrians have died because of these bad drivers. I urge the Assembly and Governor Cuomo to follow suit and enact my proposal into law immediately.”

Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives Paul Steely White, stated: “Unlicensed drivers are among the most dangerous on our roads – a person driving with a suspended license is twice as likely to cause a fatal crash. This legislation sends a powerful message that New Yorkers will no longer allow unlicensed drivers to wield the deadly weapon of an automobile on our streets. Thanks to Senator Gianaris’ leadership, prosecutors would soon have more tools to bring about muchneeded driver accountability in the Vision Zero era.”

Also praising Gianaris’ action, Cristina Furlong, of Make Queens Safer said, “This important bill is about accountability for unlicensed and chronically reckless drivers who injure or kill people. “We hope that the risk of steep consequences deter these dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel in the first place. Now more than ever, we are grateful to Senator Gianaris for his leadership on this issue and all of those that affect pedestrian safety.”

Gianaris, a longtime advocate for safer streets, first introduced this bill after a truck driver without a valid license struck and killed Noshat Nahian, a 3rd-grader at PS 152 in Woodside, on his way to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. Gianaris renewed his call for these measures after Angela Hurtado was killed by a driver with a suspended license in Maspeth in January 2014. Most recently, Gianaris implored his fellow state legislators to act on these measures after a pedestrian was killed by such a driver on Woodside Avenue in February.

QUEENS GOP LEADER BLASTS COUNCIL SPEAKER: Queens’ Republican Party leader and former Congressman Bob Turner issued a blistering statement “condemning” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito and the 41 members of the City Council who voted for her resolution asking President Obama to grant clemency to convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera:

Meanwhile, Turner praised the seven councilmembers who voted “no” on the resolution: Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park), Paul Vallone (D–Bayside), Mark Weprin (D–Oakland Gardens), Vincent Gentile (D–Brooklyn) James Vacca (D–Bronx), Vincent Ignizio (R–Staten Island) and Steven Matto (R–Staten Island).

Turner’s statement was as follows: “It is unconscionable that the New York City Council at the request of Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito would ask for clemency for convicted terrorist and murderer Oscar Lopez Rivera. The criminal not only conspired to blow up federal buildings, he murdered four people, injured over 50 people and maimed three NYPD officers. The shameful 41 councilmembers (10 from Queens) who voted in favor of this ridiculous clemency resolution have disgraced the legislative body and owe an apology to the victims and the families of those murdered by Rivera. We should, however, recognize and thank the councilmembers who voted NO [who are listed above]. They should be commended for doing what is intelligent, right and just.”

LANGUAGE MATTERS TO NOLAN: Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, the chair of the Committee on Education, writes the Gazette that she was “pleased” that the State Senate unanimously passed her bill A.7013, which changes the language used in state law that designates schools from “failing” to “struggling.” This bill, which passed the Assembly by a wide margin in April, now awaits the Governor’s approval.

Nolan states, “The language we use when we talk about our children’s schools matters. There is still much work to be done to get all of our schools the resources and attention they need, and that continues to be a priority of the New York State Assembly. This legislation is in response to a message we heard from parents and students across the state; telling students they attend a failing school has a negative effect on children and is not a productive way to begin a conversation about improving a struggling school.”

“We are thrilled to see that the state Assembly and Senate changed the negative label placed on our schools by Gov. Cuomo,” said Dionne McNeil, whose son goes to August Martin High School in Queens. She said, “Calling my child’s schools ‘failing’ was devastating to him. It discouraged him from even attending. He felt that he was being labeled as a failure. This goes a long way to boost the morale of both our school and the students who attend it. For that, we thank our state legislators.”

KATZ: ‘ROLL BACK OR FREEZE RENTS’: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following about the proposed rent guidelines for leases renewing between October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016, as discussed at the New York City Rent Guidelines Board Public Meeting in Queens last week:

“Thousands of tenants throughout the city – including Queens – simply cannot afford any upward adjustment in rent at this time, no matter how modest it may seem. As a city, we cannot in good faith push to build and preserve affordable housing while simultaneously increasing rents and effectively pricing families out of their homes. We urge the Board to enact either a rent rollback or a rent freeze at this critical time.”

CROWLEY PLEASED SIKH STUDENT ENTERING US MILITARY:  Congressman Joseph Crowley Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and a leader on Sikh-American issues in Congress, released the following statement last week on the decision by the US District Court that Iknoor Singh’s adherence to practicing Sikhism, including wearing articles of faith, such as a turban and beard, would not diminish his ability to serve in the US military.
Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) added that Singh, who resides in Queens and is a student at Hofstra University, is seeking enrollment in the US Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps. Crowley has been a leader in urging the US Military to end its presumptive ban on Sikhs serving. Continuing, Crowley noted Sikhs have served in the US Army since World War I, and they are presumptively permitted to serve in the armed forces of Canada, India, and the United Kingdom, among others. Currently, three Sikh Americans have been granted individualized accommodations to serve in the US Army where they have won accolades for their service including the Bronze Star, Crowley said. The lawmaker added, “These patriotic soldiers wear turbans and maintain beards in a neat and conservative manner in accordance with operational requirements. They are also able to wear protective equipment, including helmets and gas masks, in conformity with safety requirements.” Crowley, a recognized leader in Congress on issues related to the Sikh-American community, spearheaded a multi-year, successful effort to convince the federal government to begin collecting data on hate crimes committed against Sikh-Americans and Hindu-Americans, an important issue brought to nationwide attention by the massacre of Sikh worshippers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

PASS BILL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY TRAINING FOR HISPANICS: Congressman Joseph Crowley announced the House passed a bipartisan amendment to the FY 2016 Intelligence Authorization Act to provide national security training grants to Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) of higher education to prepare students for careers in national security.

The amendment was offered by Crowley and Congressmembers Jose Serrano (D–Bronx) and Carlos Curbelo (R–FL).

Crowley, explained the amendment allows the Director of National Intelligence to provide grants to HSIs to offer advanced foreign language education, study abroad, and cultural immersion programs to increase diversity in the national security and intelligence community” to prepare America’s fastest-growing minority for careers in national security.”

Crowley pointed out: “From cybersecurity to counter-terrorism, careers in national security and intelligence are in demand and are more important than ever, given the challenges we face. These training grants will help ensure Hispanic students have the opportunities to explore these growing and critical fields, better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, and ensure that our intelligence community accurately reflects the diversity of the American people.”

The members have long supported grant opportunities for HSIs. In May, Crowley, Serrano, and Curbelo, along with Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Will Hurd (R-TX), successfully led an amendment to the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a grant program to support undergraduate STEM education at HSIs. The amendment was the latest move in the longstanding effort to establish this program, including recent legislation introduced by Serrano, Crowley, and Luján in April.

MALONEY STATEMENT ON CHARLESTON CHURCH MASSACRE: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) issued the following statement on the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting which left nine church members dead:

“No words can ease the pain of the families who lost so much… Only our prayers can help, and I am praying for the families and friends who lost loved ones and for those who were injured. Today, our nation stands with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the people of Charleston and we will never forget them.

“While we don’t yet know the full details of this tragedy, we know that our society is obligated to put an end to the bloodshed in our schools, our churches, and on our streets. We must do more to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who would do others harm, and we must do more to change our society so that the anger and hatred of a few does not steal the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year.”

Maloney is the lead sponsor of five gun safety laws:

Legislation to study gun violence research (HR2612) would set aside $10 million in funding each year for FY2016-2021 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct or support research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention.

The Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015 (HR2380) would subject gun sales and transfers at gun shows to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Private sales of weapons at gun shows are presently allowed without a background check.

The Handgun Trigger Safety Act of 2015 (HR 2613) would improve gun safety by ensuring that only authorized users would be able to operate handguns utilizing personalization (or “smart gun”) technology. On average, there are 32,000 deaths and 76,000 injuries occurring from gun violence each year in the United States.

The Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2015 (HR2546) would require gun buyers to have liability insurance coverage before being allowed to purchase a weapon and imposes a fine of $10,000 if an owner is found not to have the required coverage.

Maloney will soon introduce the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act (HR 452, 113th Congress) to make firearms trafficking a federal crime and impose stronger penalties for “straw purchasers” who buy guns for convicted felons and others who are prohibited from buying guns on their own.

AFTER SCHUMER’S OBJECTION, SMALLER CARRY-ON BAG IDEA STALLS: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–NY) issued the following statement after the International Air Transport Association announced it would pause the rollout of a new proposal that would reduce the size of carry-on luggage and reassess the proposal. Recently, Delta Air Lines and other major airlines announced they would not adopt the airline association’s proposed policy. Earlier this week, Schumer had urged major airlines to scrap the proposed policy.
Schumer stated: “I am pleased that the International Air Transport Association has heeded the call and plans to reassess its proposal, which could shrink a traveler’s carry-on luggage by more than 20 percent. Many travelers have had their go-to bag for years, and this policy could have forced passengers to purchase new luggage or instead pay extra to check their luggage. It is good news that the plan has been stalled, and I will continue to press the airline industry to ensure that proposals that could hurt consumers never get off the ground.”

NOLAN PUTS SLA ON NOTICE: Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) issued the following statement on the Knockdown Center:

“I am extremely disappointed at the State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) decision to grant a full liquor license to the Knockdown Center. Queens Community Board 5 has consistently voted down this liquor license due to the possible noise and quality of life issues that may arise from this establishment. I share in these concerns as well. I will continue to monitor this situation and would encourage all residents including the many that live around the area to contact my office if they have any concerns moving forward.”

CERTAIN CHILDREN OF DECEASED 9/11 RESPONDERS AIDED: Step children and other non-biological children raised by deceased 9/11 first responders would become eligible for “legacy credits” on competitive civil service exams under a bill sponsored by State Senator Joseph Addabbo and passed by the Senate last week. The bill is now being considered by the Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Employees, under the sponsorship of Assemblyman Mike Miller (D–Woodhaven). Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) credited a constituent, Joan Abruzzino-York, who lost her husband, firefighter Ray York, as a result of the September 11 attacks. Now she is hoping her son, Robert, will be aided by the pending legacy credit legislation to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) explained, “Several years ago, New York State sought to honor the memories of first responders who died as a result of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks by providing their surviving children and siblings with an additional 10 points on competitive civil service exams. “Many of these children and other relatives of firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics and others who perished as a direct result of the attacks – whether at the scene or from subsequent related health issues – often wish to follow in the footsteps of the people they lost and pursue a civil service career. However, Addabbo pointed out, “The initial legacy credit law inadvertently left out a number of other loved ones of first responders who died, and my legislation is an effort to address a specific deficiency.” Under the lawmaker’s bill, the stepchildren or children of surviving spouses of deceased first responders who were not legally adopted or their biological offspring would become eligible for the extra points on civil service exams. “For many of these children,” Addabbo explained, “the moms and dads they tragically lost as a result of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath were the only moms or dads they ever knew – regardless of whether they were related by blood. These children were forced to say good-bye to parents who cared for them, raised them, supported them financially, and loved them. Addabbo emphasized: That these men and women were not the biological parents of these children did not prevent them from being loving families and feeling as much loss as any other sons and daughters of 9/11 heroes and heroines.”
Paying tribute to Addabbo, Joan Abruzzino-York stated: “It’s easy to say the words ‘never forget,’ but Senator Addabbo has not just said those words.  He has proven with his actions that the sacrifice my husband made on 9/11 is truly not forgotten. We are grateful to him and the Senate for passing the bill. We are hoping that the Assembly will do the same so that Robert can fulfill his dream of becoming a firefighter and carrying on his dad’s work.”
Addabbo concluded, “Sometimes, the definition of family is much bigger and more complex than the law officially recognizes. This legislation will help to ensure that additional children who suffered the loss of a parent as a result of the terrorist attacks 14 years ago will have a greater opportunity to enter public service – whether as first responders themselves, or in other civil service capacities.”

MALONEY ‘DELIGHTED’ AT CORNELL TECH LAUNCH: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) issued the following statement on the official groundbreaking of Cornell Tech’s Campus on Roosevelt Island:

“I am delighted to celebrate the groundbreaking for Cornell Tech, a project that will create tens of thousands of jobs, both during construction and as students start creating new start-ups. When Mayor Bloomberg first proposed this idea of a new applied sciences school, I worked incredibly hard to build support to bring it to Roosevelt Island, and I am thrilled that the project is officially in the ground. Cornell Tech will transform this island into a thriving tech hub and will bring new jobs across the bridge in Western Queens. The new campus will bring a new energy to the community with lively students and exciting innovations. I believe that the increase in people will create a demand for more restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and other amenities. While construction is never easy to live with, I am sure that Cornell Tech will work hard to be a good neighbor. I am happy to welcome them to our community, and I look forward to seeing the beautiful campus completed and open to students.”

ADDABBO BILL EYES NYS LIBRARIES: Legislation sponsored by state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. could make the Queens Library eligible to participate in the state’s Local Government Efficiency Grants Program (LGE), an initiative that would encourage exploring cooperative projects aimed at improving services and achieving government savings and also making the library eligible for state grants.
Addabbo explained, “My bill simply offers the Queens Library and the many other public library systems throughout New York a chance to pursue state funding to help them develop innovative new methods to better serve the public while reducing costs.”
Addabbo (D–Howard Beach), a member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Libraries, stated: “Giving New York’s library systems access to potential new funding opportunities is another way to ensure that libraries in Queens and elsewhere are able to explore more efficient and cost-effective avenues to providing even greater services for area individuals and families.”
The legislation is now under review by the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology.

HOUSE OKs US-INDIA-ISRAEL-SECURITY AGREEMENT: The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan amendment to the FY 2016 Intelligence  Authorization Act last week, calling for expansion of US-India-Israel national security cooperation, Congressman Joseph Crowley reported.
The amendment was offered by seven Congressmembers: Crowley (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Ami Bera (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans; Steve Chabot (R-OH), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; George Holding (R-NC), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans; David Schweikert (R-AZ); and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
The amendment requires a report from the Director of National Intelligence on the possibilities for growing national security cooperation between the US, India, and Israel Crowley said.
“While the U.S. already has robust national security partnerships with both India and Israel,” Crowley stated, “there are many areas where opportunities exist to develop and further grow these critical relationships. This amendment demonstrates the commitment of Congress to ensuring that our national security strategies include expanding our cooperation with India and Israel, two of our most important friends in their respective regions.”

It took a huge storm to show the way, but pets will finally get to ride on public transit (MTA vehicles) during states of emergency or evacuations, under the terms of a bill passed by the State Senate last week.
Recalling Hurricane Sandy, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., who voted for the bill, said that many residents were reluctant to leave their pets behind when they were told to leave their homes during Hurricane Sandy. It created many tense situations, and it led him to vote for the bill, he said.
“Under the NYS Pet Evacuation and Sheltering Act of 2006 (PETS ACT), the State’s disaster preparedness plans must include programs to assist household pets and service animals in the event of an emergency,” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) explained.
Addabbo added, “This proposal seeks to fulfill this goal, and is also a counterpart to similar legislation approved by the State of New Jersey in 2013 to address related bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey animal transportation issues.”
Thinking back again to Sandy, Addabbo recalled, “In the aftermath of Sandy, I deeply appreciated the work of local animal rescue groups in their attempts to shelter pets that became homeless as a result of the storm and to reunite lost animals with their worried owners. Providing pet owners with the opportunity to take their dogs, cats and other domestic animals with them during emergencies and evacuations makes good and compassionate sense on any number of levels.”

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