2016-03-30 / Political Page

Senate Passes Package Of Anti-Terror Bills

SENATE PASSES ANTI-TERROR BILLS, ADDABBO SAYS: Citing “the need to be ever vigilant in the face of continuing threats to the security of our city, state, nation and international community,” Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. recently voted on the Senate floor to approve a package of strict new anti-terrorism proposals. He stated:

“The horrendous recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, combined with our fortunate success in stopping some hateful events before they had a chance to occur, underscores the need to provide our law enforcement agencies and other partners in the fight against terrorism with the tools they need to keep us safe.” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

Addabbo stated: “The New York Police Department statistics reveal that there have been 20 foiled terrorist plots to attack residents and workers in the City subway system, airports, transportation hubs, utility centers and other parts of the infrastructure since September 11, 2001.

“We need to make sure that hateful criminals whose only agenda is to bring tragedy and suffering down upon our residents continue to fail in their twisted and despicable campaigns of destruction,” said Addabbo.

The four proposals that garnered Addabbo’s support and passed the Senate are:

1. S. 455 would establish the crime of terrorism recruitment as a Class C felony, which could be imposed on people who attempt to entice others to engage in any sort of criminal terrorism.

2, S. 2942 would create several penalty levels for soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism, with offenders guilty of Class B, C, or D felonies depending on the dollar value of support offered.

3. S. 3404 creates two new felony-level cyber crimes to punish those who use computers and other forms of technology to advance terrorist activity.

4. S.5349 would establish a new crime of making a terroristic threat against a police officer as a Class C felony. Under current law, making a general terroristic threat – considered a threat made with the intent of intimidating or harming a civilian population, or terrorizing, disrupting, harming or coercing the operation of a governmental unit, especially through threats of murder, assassination, or kidnapping – carries a lesser felony charge.

Now that the bills have been approved by the Senate, they are under review by the Assembly Committee on Codes.

MENG HELPS NEPAL RECOVER FROM DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKES: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng has introduced bi-partisan legislation that seeks to help Nepal recover from the massive earthquakes that devastated the country in April and May of 2015. The two earthquakes struck the capital of Kathmandu and the surrounding areas. More than 8,700 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were injured.

Meng (D–Queens) stated that the Nepal Recovery Act (H.R. 4674) authorizes the President to provide assistance for rebuilding vital infrastructure – such as homes, schools, health facilities, roads and bridges – that were destroyed by the earthquakes. It also contains reporting requirements to ensure accountability, and measure the effectiveness of U.S. investments in these priorities.

“The people of Nepal have suffered through a horrific ordeal,” said Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. “Entire villages were destroyed and national infrastructure was demolished. Almost one year later, hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless, living in huts and tents. Our hearts continue to go out to everyone who is impacted by the devastation. Although the headlines and coverage have faded, the suffering has not. The U.S. must continue to assist with much needed relief efforts.”

Meng’s bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY); Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Chair Matt Salmon (RAZ); Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Ranking Member Brad Sherman (D-CA); Congressional Nepal Caucus Co-chair Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL); Congressional Nepal Caucus Co-chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO); and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY).

“As the people of Nepal work to rebuild and recover from this horrible tragedy, there should be no doubt that they have a friend in the United States,” said Rep. Engel. “It will take years to move past this earthquake, and nothing can replace those who were lost, but we must do all we can to help Nepal get on track. This measure will provide support for restoring critical infrastructure and assistance for Nepal’s most vulnerable. I want to thank Representative Meng for her leadership and compassion, and I’m pleased to support her legislation.”

“As we approach the one year anniversary of these catastrophic earthquakes, our hearts remain with the people of Nepal as they continue down the arduous path of rebuilding homes, villages, and their lives,” said Crowley, Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus whose district includes a growing Nepali population. “Emergency relief is the critical first step, but now there must be a focus on the long-term effort to rebuild Nepal’s infrastructure and economy, as well as improve the lives of the Nepali people. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Meng in support of legislation that will go a long way in helping Nepal fully recover from this terrible tragedy.”

Meng’s bill also aims to address the vulnerability of young girls and boys in Nepal who are often at higher risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse during emergencies. In addition, it seeks to prohibit construction that uses forced or child labor, and encourages reconstruction in a way that fosters resilience to future earthquakes and other natural disasters. The measure also supports economic growth through agriculture and entrepreneurship opportunities, and promotes health and education, programs.

Last May, Meng called on the Administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nepalese nationals who were in the United States when and immediately after the earthquake, which it eventually did. The move protects citizens of Nepal from deportation or detainment so that they are not forced to return to dangerous and unsafe conditions that the earthquake caused in their country. TPS will remain in place through December 24, 2016.

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. A similar bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and passed unanimously out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

ADDABBO BILL ASSISTS VETS’ SERVICE ORGS: Calling it a step closer to “giving back to those who have given of themselves in service to our nation,” Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. announced the recent committee approval of his legislation (S.2497) that would enable New Yorkers to check off a box on their personal income tax returns to assist veterans service organizations.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated: “The proposal would establish a veterans service organization fund, which would be supported through the generosity of New York residents who decide that they want to contribute to veterans groups when they file their state personal income tax returns.” The lawmaker who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs added, “I am grateful that my colleagues on the Senate Veterans Committee have joined with me in advancing this initiative.”

Under the bill, Addabbo explained, New York residents would be able to choose a new income tax “check off” box on their returns to voluntarily support groups that provide services to veterans. The contributions would be held in a fund maintained by the State Comptroller and the State Division of Taxation and Finance, and monies would be provided to veterans’ service organizations to enable them to better assist former servicemen and women in accessing necessary benefits and programs. The contributions would be gifts and not reduce the amount of tax owed by check-off program participants.

“Veterans are often in need of a variety of services when they return home, but do not always know where to turn to find out about an array of programs that exist to help them,” Addabbo said. “Veterans’ service organizations serve as a key liaison between veterans and appropriate government agencies, and their efforts are vital to ensuring that our returning servicemen and women gain access to the health, employment, education and other services available to them.”

Other state check-off programs in New York State include those that support breast cancer research, prostate cancer research, wildlife and conservation efforts, Alzheimer’s disease services and state veterans’ cemeteries.

“I think it’s fitting that New York taxpayers be provided with the opportunity to voluntarily support brave and selfless men and women who have put their lives on hold at home and their lives at risk overseas, all in service to our country,” said Addabbo. “By helping veterans service organizations expand their services, we will be thanking our former servicemen and women in concrete and meaningful ways.”

Having passed the Senate Veterans Committee, the bill’s next step toward full Senate passage is consideration by the Senate Finance Committee. In the Assembly, where the bill is sponsored by Assemblymember Mike Miller, the legislation has already been approved by the full membership.

ASSEMBLY FINALLY OKS MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: With a push from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Assembly finally approved a bill authorizing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matches in New York State. The legislation now requires State Senate approval and the governor’s signature seems certain.

Final passage would make New York the last state in the union to enact it. For years, lawmakers had refused to legalize it here because of its brutality, no-holds barred, bloody mixture of prize fighting and wrestling.

The governor’s spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, issued a statement which noted New Yorkers have been going out of state to attend M.M.A. matches, thus denying their business to NYS, and concluded. “It makes no sense to actively remain uncompetitive, something this administration has worked to reverse, assessing each on its merits.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) stated: “We’ve finally delivered a knockout blow to Albany’s prohibition on Mixed Martial Arts. With today’s vote, millions of fans across the state will soon be able to enjoy MMA right in their own backyard. This will make MMA safer for fighters and fans alike, as well as bring millions of dollars to the state and boost economic activity for our local businesses. I’m proud to join Majority Leader Morelle in ending this unnecessary chokehold on a sport that every other state in the country has safely enjoyed for years.”

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas also welcomed passage of the Mixed Martial Arts bill, which she has supported for many years. Simotas (D–Astoria) commented:

“Until today, New York has been an outlier when it came to legalization of Mixed Martial Arts. I am delighted that status has now changed because it will bring incredible economic benefits to our state and fans will finally get to watch a sport they love. That’s why I’ve co-sponsored bills every year since 2011 to make it legal.”

CROWLEY SEEKS FUNDING FOR MARITIME ACADEMIES: Congressmembers Joe Crowley (D–NY), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Dan Benishek (R–MI) announced they sent a bipartisan letter along with more than 60 of their colleagues urging leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation to provide robust funding for State Maritime Academies for Fiscal Year 2017. Specifically, the letter urges funding for the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel program to support the construction of a new vessel for the nation’s six State Maritime Academies (SMAs) to train future mariners.

“Our State Maritime Academies, including SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, are more than sources of pride for our nation – they play a crucial role in producing the next generation of maritime leaders and in protecting our national security interests,” said Crowley, whose district includes SUNY Maritime College. “Despite their critical role, our maritime academies are stuck with an aging, outdated fleet of vessels. We can’t train the mariners of tomorrow with the ships of yesterday. That’s why it is imperative that our maritime academies have the funding and resources necessary so they can continue their critical mission.”

ADDABBO, MILLER HOST HIRING EVENT: Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and Assemblyman Mike Miller will once again host a hiring event next month in partnership with Birch Family Services.

Representatives from the company, looking for applicants to fill teaching and maintenance positions, will be at the Emmanuel United Church of Christ, located at 93-12 91st Avenue in Woodhaven, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, to accept resumes from individuals seeking employment. Birch Family Services, which provides health and education services for adults and children with special needs, will have several teaching jobs available including teachers, teachers assistants, 1-to-1 aides, IEP coordinators and senior curriculum coordinators. The company is also seeking to hire maintenance workers.

For more information, contact Addabbo’s Howard Beach Office at 718-738-1111.

STAVISKY WORKING ON STATE BUDGET: Senator Stavisky will announce her reelection campaign in due time, but right now she’s focused on the job her constituents have hired her to do by working to pass a state budget that will give Queens classrooms the resources they need, assist small businesses, promote growth and prosperity for the middle-class and create meaningful ethics reform so we can clean up the dysfunction in Albany.

CROWLEY’S WISHES FOR A HAPPY HOLI: Congressmember Joe Crowley (D–Queens, The Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and former Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, issued the following statement in recognition of Holi, which is celebrated widely by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in India, as well as in the United States and around the world:

“The Festival of Holi, known as the Festival of Colors, is a time for communities to come together to mark the end of winter and celebrate the coming of spring. During this joyous festival, family and friends will join together through dance, music, meals, the lighting of bonfires celebrating goodness over evil, and the tossing of vibrant colored powders into the air, all in a grand celebration of peace, friendship, and harmony. Holi is a beautiful representation of the incredible diversity here in the U.S. and around the world. To all those celebrating, I wish you a happy Holi!”

BILL TO GIVE VET CLUBS TIME TO CLEAR VIOLATIONS PASSES STATE SENATE: Legislation filed by State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. giving war vet clubs 120 days to correct violations has been passed by the Senate and sent to the Assembly for further action.

Veteran organizations had appealed to Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) after being hit with heavy fines after getting cited for minor code violations then being unable to correct them in time to avoid stiff penalties.

Addabbo explained:

“Veterans posts in our communities that serve the needs of former servicemen and women often have bars, kitchens and other facilities in their buildings which may fall under the jurisdiction of various municipal codes and agencies. Sometimes code violations are identified that the veterans organizations don’t know about, and certainly never intended, and they are slapped with heavy fines that they cannot afford to pay without seriously jeopardizing the continued operation of the posts. Given the value of these organizations to our communities and the exceptional work they do on behalf of veterans who have served our country, I believe they should be given a chance to make necessary changes before being fined.”

The legislation was crafted by Addabbo after a veterans’ organization in his district was assessed almost $5,000 in fines because it housed an ice machine and was therefore classified as a food establishment. The American Legion Post 1424 in Forest Hills was also fined for failing to have a sink at an outdoor barbecue event Addabbo said.

“This warning period of 120 days would not apply to serious violations that cause an immediate threat to safety or health or that violate the alcoholic beverage control law,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “This legislation represents a good faith effort to aid veterans organizations that had no intention of violating the law and that just need a bit of time to correct the problems identified. I think it’s the least we can do for men and women who put their lives on the line for our country and on our behalf,” the lawmaker added.

Addabbo also noted that many veterans organizations operate on a volunteer basis, with limited budgets, and do not receive a great deal of public funding support. He said, “many groups depend on their own veteran membership to help keep their organizations afloat, and big municipal fines could mean the difference between a post staying open or closing. My legislation isn’t looking to give any group a free ride – just to set up a reasonable period of time to allow veterans to rectify violations and continue serving their fellow servicemen and servicewomen.”

Now that the bill has passed the State Senate, it is under review by the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs. The legislation is sponsored in that house by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D–Woodhaven).

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