JOE ROBACH SAYS SENATE TO CELEBRATE EARTH WEEK WITH A PACKAGE OF BILLS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, INCREASE GREEN JOBS, AND BOOST RECREATION

The New York State Senate, along with Joe Robach, will be celebrating Earth Week by acting upon an extensive package of 27 bills that would create new protections for natural resources, promote energy conservation, help create green jobs, and increase tourism through enhanced recreational opportunities.

Joe Robach said, “The Senate knows that our state has abundant natural resources that are worthy of being protected both for our current well-being and for future generations. The bills that will be acted upon this week strengthen our commitment to improving the health of our communities, protecting the environment, conserving energy, and increasing recreation while striking an important balance that continues to build our economy.”

According to Joe Robach of the 56th Senate District, the highlights of the bills to be acted upon this Wednesday are:

S1626 Permits commercial applicators of pesticides to apply pesticides in a dosage, concentration or frequency less than that specified on the labeling. Currently, pesticides registered for use in New York State may be used for agricultural purposes in a dosage, concentration or frequency less than what is specified on the labeling, but commercial pesticide applicators may not. By allowing commercial applicators to apply less than label rates, the total amount of pesticides being applied in New York State will be decreased, providing economic and environmental benefits.

S3064 Provides a definition for Integrated Pest Management to help encourage a reduction in the amount of pesticides used. IPM is a systematic approach to managing pests that utilizes a diversity of management options to minimize health, environmental, and economic risks and impacts.

S2905 Promotes the use of geothermal energy systems as a natural and renewable energy while also fostering the creation of green jobs.

S3060 Enacts the Oil and Gas Waste Management Act to mitigate the threats posed to the public under the current system of high volume fracturing waste transport and disposal in New York. The bill requires the incorporation of radioactive screening and rejection criteria in solid waste facility permits for any solid waste facility that accepts waste from oil and gas drilling activities to ensure that oil and waste products do not pose an environmental danger when they come to New York.

S2543 Extends the moratorium on storage or transportation of natural gas in New York City. The storage of highly volatile liquefied natural gas in densely populated areas makes it mandatory that all governmental agencies exercise extreme caution in dealing with proposals for activation of LNG facilities.

The full list of bills to be acted upon includes:

S3082 Incentivizes the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to promptly pay businesses that are receiving NYSERDA grants to allow them to take full advantage of clean and renewable energy systems;

S92 Eliminates the requirement that hunters wear back tags during hunting season in the state;

S368 Authorizes the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to undertake projects to protect national historic landmarks from shore erosion;

S829 Eliminates the expiration of and makes permanent provisions of law authorizing an individual to fish with up to three lines in freshwater;

S1676 Creates a task force on interagency cooperation within the forestry industry;

S1876 Relates to party and charter boat licenses;

S2953A Relates to the regulation of live restraint cable devices to take wildlife; authorizes regulations by the Department of Environmental Conservation;

S1195 Expands the powers and duties of the Historic Hudson Hoosic Rivers partnership;

S1599 Relates to permitting the use of peregrine falcons in falconry;

S1625 Relates to hunting, fishing, and outdoor education in high school physical education courses;

S1626 Permits commercial applicators of pesticides to apply pesticides in a dosage, concentration or frequency less than what is specified on the labeling;

S1689 Authorizes deer and bear hunting in the counties of Broome, Chenango, and Tioga with rifles and other arms;

S1781 Provides for the issuance of fishing and hunting licenses, free of charge, to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers;

S1804 Provides an exemption from state sales tax for energy star appliances and grants municipalities the option to provide such exemption;

S1872 Prohibits the taking of striped bass during the period of January 1 to April 15;

S2543 Extends the moratorium on the issuance of environmental safety certificates for facilities and routes for the transportation of liquefied natural or petroleum gas;

S2905 Establishes a tax credit for the purchase and installation of geothermal energy systems;

S2951 Protects certain information on hunting, fishing and trapping license and permit applications from disclosure;

S3025 Provides for a lifetime license for honorably discharged, disabled veterans;

S3029 Relates to exemptions from requirements for fishing licenses for members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are on leave from active military duty;

S3060 Enacts the “Oil and Gas Waste Management Act of 2015” to require solid waste management facilities accepting waste from oil and gas drilling operations to screen such waste for radioactivity;

S3064 Provides definition of Integrated Pest Management;

S4211 Relates to the expansion of natural gas service;

S4279 Provides an exemption for the sale and installation of residential and commercial geothermal heat pump systems equipment;

S4368 Requires the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to promote education in hunting, fishing, and outdoor education in high school physical education courses;

S4563 Authorizes the forest ranger force to establish a training program for volunteer search and rescue personnel to assist the forest rangers; and

S4753 Exempts commercial fuel cell systems and electricity provided by such sources from sales tax.

SENATE, JOE ROBACH PASS LEGISLATION TO PROHIBIT SEX OFFENDERS FROM LIVING IN COMMUNITY RESIDENCES WITH INDIVIDUALS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

The New York State Senate passed legislation supported by Joe Robach that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living with individuals with developmental disabilities in community residences operated or licensed by the state. The bill strengthens current protections and helps ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities are living in a safe environment.

Senator Joe Robach (56th Senate District) said, “The placement of registered sex offenders in group homes alongside vulnerable individuals is blatantly irresponsible. This new measure would address this very serious issue. Residents in group homes deserve the best care and protection that we can provide, and this measure will ensure safety for them and their neighbors.”

Currently, registered sex offenders are permitted to reside in facilities that provide supervised residence for individuals with developmental disabilities. This bill would prohibit registered sex offenders from residing in a community residence operated or licensed by the state Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

This measure responds to the public’s growing concern after it was reported last year that a number of convicted sex offenders were placed in neighborhood community residences across Western New York.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly. For more information about this Senate initiative, contact Joe Robach.

SENATE, JOE ROBACH PASS LEGISLATION TARGETING CYBER TERRORISM

The New York State Senate, along with Joe Robach, passed four bills to crack down on
cyber terrorism and its rapidly expanding threat to the state’s security and finances. The legislation would enact tougher penalties for cyber-related crimes, create cyber security programs to identify potential risks and threats, and require the state to perform a comprehensive review of all its cyber security measures every five years.

The Senate and Joe Robach passed legislation (S3407) that would establish the New York State Cyber Security Initiative to ensure that the state has a proper cyber security defense system in place. It includes:

The New York State Cyber Security Sharing and Threat Prevention Program to increase the state’s quality and readiness of cyber threat information that will be shared with the public and private sectors;

A New York State Cyber Security Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Report to seek recommendations from experts to identify security threats facing the state, its businesses, and its citizens, as well as develop effective ways to combat these security threats; and

The New York State Cyber Security Advisory Board, which assists the state in making recommendations and finding ways to protect its critical infrastructure and information systems, being codified into law.

Also approved by the Senate today was a bill (S3404) that would create new penalties for cyber crimes. Under the measure, it would be a Class A felony for any person found guilty of intimidating, coercing, oraffecting the public or a government entity by causing mass injury, damage, or debilitation of people or their property, including computers and related programs, data networks, or material. A new Class C felony would
include anyone who uses a computer to cause serious financial harm affecting more than 10 people.

Additional legislation (S3406) would make it a Class B felony for those who use a computer or device to carry out a cyber attack when such an attack causes financial harm in excess of $100,000 to another person, partnership, or corporation, individually or collectively.

The Senate also passed a measure (S3405) that would require the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to work with the Superintendent of State Police, the Chief Information Officer, and the President of the Center for Internet Security to complete a comprehensive review of New York’s cyber security measures every five years, and create a sequential report to summarize its findings. The report would identify the state’s security needs and detail how those needs are being met to ensure that the best security practices are in place to protect New Yorkers from cyber terrorism.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly. For more information, contact the office of Joe Robach.

JOE ROBACH AND SENATE ACT ON WOMEN’S EQUALITY PACKAGE

In its first legislative act of 2015, the New York State Senate and Joe Robach acted on a comprehensive Women’s Equality Agenda that would enhance the rights of women and protect those who are most vulnerable to abuse and discrimination. These historic women’s measures are a top priority of the Senate Coalition and were voted on the first day the Senate begins voting on legislation this session.

The comprehensive package of eight bills would: stop human trafficking; ensure equal pay for equal work; combat sexual harassment in the workplace; end gender discrimination in employment, housing and credit decisions; make reasonable work accommodations available for pregnant women; and provide stronger protections for domestic violence victims.

The eight bills comprising the Senate’s Women’s Equality Agenda were passed in 2013 and 2014 but were not acted upon by the Assembly. The measures include:

THE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION AND JUSTICE ACT

The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (S.7), sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R, Staten Island), toughens penalties against those who buy and sell young women, men, and children and reduces the stigma defendants may face when they are victims of the massive $32 billion sex trafficking industry.

Key provisions of the measure include increasing the accountability of traffickers and buyers by raising the penalty for sex trafficking to a class B violent felony; creating the felony sex offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor”; and aligning the penalties for patronizing a minor with those of statutory rape.

The bill will also strengthen the investigative tools used to build a case against traffickers. Sex trafficking will be an affirmative defense to prostitution and the term “prostitute” will be eliminated from the Penal Law, as that term stigmatizes defendants who are in fact victims of sex trafficking. Nowhere else in the state’s Penal Law are individuals identified by the crime they allegedly committed.

Senator Andrew Lanza said, “Here in New York, thousands of innocent people are bought and sold like property each year. Human trafficking, a modern version of the slave trade, is a devastating human rights violation occurring in our own backyards. I’m proud to have authored the long-awaited Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) to enhance protections for trafficking victims and hold those who exploit them accountable. I thank Senator Skelos, Assemblywoman Paulin, and the many advocates who are helping make this possible.”

ENSURING EQUAL PAY

Despite existing protections under the law, women in New York earn 84 percent of what men earn and jobs traditionally held by women pay significantly less than jobs predominately employing men. In New York, on average, a woman working full time is paid $42,113 per year, while a man working full time is paid $50,388 per year. This creates a wage gap of $8,275 between full-time working men and women in the state.

The Senate will take up S.1, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino, to help women receive the wages they are entitled to by prohibiting employers from paying employees disparate amounts due to gender.

STOPPING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON FAMILY STATUS

Legislation (S.4) sponsored by Senator Betty Little would help working mothers by preventing discrimination in the hiring and promotion of people with families. Employers would be prohibited from denying work or promotions based on family status, such as parents and women who are pregnant. Existing law only prohibits discrimination based on family status in credit and housing, but not employment — which can have a negative impact on women with children.
ENDING PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

To help protect pregnant women, the bill (S.8) sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau) would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions. A pregnancy-related condition would be treated as a temporary disability and employers would be required to perform a reasonable accommodation analysis for employees with conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.

PREVENTING HOUSING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS

Discrimination against victims of domestic violence is almost always discrimination against women. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women; 1.3 million women are victims of assault by an intimate partner each year. Many of these victims are forced to stay with or return to their abusive partners because of a lack of available housing or when they are refused housing.

Bill S.5, sponsored by Senator Joe Robach, would make it illegal to discriminate against domestic violence victims and provides the victims with the option of a civil action if discrimination occurs.

Senator Joe Robach said, “When it comes to combating domestic violence it is critically important that victims are able to find housing for themselves and their families to escape the eminent danger they have endured. This legislation will end discrimination in the housing marketplace and give domestic violence victims the protections they need from their abuser.”

PROHIBITING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment disproportionately affects women in the workplace. In 2011, women filed 75 percent of all sexual harassment complaints with the New York State Division of Human Rights and 83 percent of all sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The legislation (S.2), sponsored by Senator David Valesky (D, Oneida), would protect workers from sexual harassment regardless of the size of the workplace. Under current law, people working at businesses with fewer than four employees cannot file a harassment complaint with the state because small employers are exempt from the law that prohibits harassment. More than 60 percent of the state’s private employers have fewer than four employees. This bill would ensure that all employees are protected from sexual harassment by applying existing protections to businesses of all sizes.

REMOVING BARRIERS TO REMEDYING DISCRIMINATION

A bill (S.3) sponsored by Senator Betty Little would remove barriers to remedying discrimination by allowing for reasonable attorney’s fees in employment and credit discrimination cases when sex is a basis of discrimination.

Under existing law, attorney’s fees for sex discrimination cases involving employment, credit, and lending are not available even after the plaintiff proves discrimination at trial. As a result, many who are discriminated against and cannot afford to hire an attorney never seek redress. Also, those who hire an attorney on a contingency fee arrangement are not “made whole” for their losses because they must pay for their attorneys out of their recovery. Some who cannot afford to hire an attorney, but who try to do so on a contingency basis, are unsuccessful because the case is either too small or too risky.

ALLOWING ELECTRONIC FILING FOR ORDERS OF PROTECTION

Domestic violence legislation (S.6), sponsored by Senator Catharine Young, would allow victims to electronically file for orders of protection. The measure creates a pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to seek temporary orders of protection through electronic means rather than having to appear in person. It also requires the Office of Court Administration to review and update its policies and services to make sure the services available to all crime victims are adequate and appropriate.

Upon passage, the bills will be sent to the Assembly.

Legislation originally part of the Senate’s Women’s Equality Agenda was enacted into law in 2013 that strengthened orders of protection for domestic violence victims. It clarifies that a victim for whom an order of protection is issued cannot be arrested for violating that same order; (S5605, Chapter 480 Laws of 2013, Senator Joe Robach.

JOE ROBACH SENATE | SCHOOL SUPPLIES DRIVE STARTS TODAY

Joe Robach, of the NYS Senate, announced today that he would again be organizing a back to school drive to help support local education needs. From now until September 30th, Joe Robach will be collecting both school/education supplies and back packs to be donated to the Greece Ecumenical Closet as well as to students in the City of Rochester.

Items can be dropped off to the Greece Ecumenical Clothes Closet (500 Maiden Lane in Greece) or Joe Robach’s Senate office (2300 West Ridge Road). Items that are needed include: Backpacks, Pens and Pencils, Rulers, Lined Papers, Notepads, Folders, Post It Notes, Calculators, Glue Sticks and Highlighters.

Joe Robach, a member of the Senate Education Committee, said “ It is so important that we support our local students’ education needs in every way. I hope that residents will consider donating supplies to help our children prepare for school.

For more information on Joe Robach school supplies drive, please visit his Senate office.

SENATE, JOE ROBACH GIVE FINAL PASSAGE TO STRONGER “CAMPUS SAFETY ACT”

The New York State Senate and Joe Robach gave final legislative passage to a measure (S2753B) that will assist victims of violent crimes and students who may have gone missing by requiring the timely notification of law enforcement.

The bill strengthens the existing College Safety Act by requiring colleges and universities to notify law enforcement within 24 hours of receiving a report of a violent felony or when a student who resides in campus housing is missing.

The original Campus Safety Act was passed in 1999 after the disappearance of Suzanne Lyall, who has been missing since disappearing from the University at Albany on March 2, 1998. The Act required colleges and universities to adopt and implement plans for the notification to local law enforcement of any violent felony offense or missing person occurring at or on the grounds of each such institution.

The Campus Safety Act mandated that plans be created, and not that colleges and universities must report violent felonies and missing persons to local law enforcement.

This Senate legislation, supported by Joe Robach, strengthens the Campus Safety Act by clearly delineating that all violent felonies and missing persons would have to be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as practicable, but in no case more than 24 hours after it is reported to the college or university.

According to a report by the White House Council on Women and Girls, 1 in 5 college females are the victims of actual or attempted sexual assault, and only 12 percent of student victims report the assault to law enforcement. The report noted that campus assailants are often serial offenders: one study found that of the men who admitted to committing rape or attempted rape, some 63 percent said they committed an average of six rapes each.

This bill will help reduce violence on campuses and help ensure that crimes are properly reported to local law enforcement.

This legislation does not conflict with the federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which gives the victim of a sexual offense the right on whether or not to report such offense to local law enforcement agencies.

The bill will be sent to the Governor. For more information on this or any other Senate initiative, contact the office of Joe Robach.

JOE ROBACH & SENATE PASS CPR IN SCHOOLS BILL

The New York State Senate, along with Joe Robach that would enable high school students to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of automated defibrillators (AEDs).

“Schools prepare students with essential life skills, and CPR skills are among the most critical lifesaving skills that make our communities safer, year after year,” Joe Robach (56th Senate District) said. “It takes only a few minutes to teach CPR. Sixteen states are now ensuring students learn CPR prior to graduation and it’s time to add New York to the list.

According to the American Heart Association, about 400,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only about 10 percent of them survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.

The bill (S7096) requires the Commissioner of Education to make recommendations to the Board of Regents to enabling high schools to train students in hands-on CPR and the use of AEDs. The Commissioner would be required to consider time and financial impacts of the instruction and seek input from impacted parties such as teachers, parents, students, administrators and others.

The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg. For more information on this or any other Senate bill, contact the office of Joe Robach.

SENATE, JOE ROBACH PASS ANIMAL PROTECTION BILLS

Senator Joe Robach and the New York State Senate marked the 4th annual Animal Advocacy Day at the Capitol by passing bills to protect animals from harm and cruelty. Animal Advocacy Day brings together lawmakers, law enforcement and hundreds of pet owners and advocates to raise awareness of the need to protect pets and people from violence.

On Animal Advocacy Day, the Senate passed bills that would: prohibit people convicted under the historic animal cruelty measure –“Buster’s Law” — from ever owning a companion animal again, and require them to undergo a psychiatric evaluation; and expand the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals to include harm to a companion animal during the commission of a felony. The Senate bills were supported by Joe Robach.

According to the ASPCA, 62 percent of American households have a pet. Studies have shown companion animals can provide a variety of positive health benefits, including providing comfort and assistance to seniors and people with disabilities. They help police, fire departments, and search and rescue efforts to keep citizens safe. It’s been widely reported that a military canine went in with U.S. Navy Seal Team 6 when they took down the world’s most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.

The bills were sent to the Assembly. For more information on these Senate bills, contact Joe Robach’s office

SENATE, JOE ROBACH PASS BILL TO PROHIBIT REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS FROM OPERATING A SCHOOL BUS OR PASSENGER BUS

New York State Senate today passed, with the support of Joe Robach, legislation (S1519) that would keep communities safer from sexual predators by prohibiting registered sex offenders from working as bus drivers.

“Registered sex offenders should not be operating a school bus or a passenger bus, plain and simple. Bus operators come in contact with vulnerable individuals every day. To give a registered sex offender a license and access to potential victims is dangerous and makes zero sense. This legislation fixes the problem,” Senator Joe Robach (56th Senate District).

Under the provisions of the bill, the Department of Motor Vehicles is prohibited from issuing or renewing a commercial driver’s license to operate a passenger or school bus to any individual who is required to register as a sex offender.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly. For more information, contact the office of Joe Robach.

Senator Joe Robach & NYS Senate Majority Coalition Host Forum on Heroin and Opioid Addiction

New York State Senator Joe Robach and the members of the Senate Majority Coalition recently hosted a public forum on heroin and opioid addiction on Tuesday, April 15.

The hearing was part of the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction that will hold forums across the state to solicit input from stakeholders and experts about  addiction prevention and treatment options, the rise in heroin and opioid use, and the potential for drug-related crimes and other negative community impacts. The task force will then develop recommendations that will be used to draft legislation to address the issues raised.

The recently enacted 2014-15 state budget included $2.45 million for initiatives to provide prevention, treatment and addiction services to address the growing problems of heroin and opioid abuse. Also in March, the Senate passed legislation to help save lives by allowing authorized health care professionals to increase public access to Narcan/Naloxone which, if timely administered, can prevent an overdose death.

“It’s very concerning to me, not only as a State Senator but as a father of three, to see the recent increase in heroin usage and addiction in our state. We need to do a better job of educating the public, particularly our youth, about the dangers of heroin and all other dangerous recreational opioids. It’s my hope that this task force will help us create measures to prevent future drug addiction,” said Joe Robach.

The Senate task force will also examine the crimes that accompany increases in illegal drug activity. In February, the New York Times reported that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) heroin seizures in New York State increased 67 percent over the last four years. The DEA’s New York office “seized 144 kilograms of heroin, nearly 20 percent of its seizures nationwide, valued at roughly $43 million.”

If you would like to submit written testimony to the Senate, please contact the office of Joe Robach.