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.

Senator Joe Robach, 56th Senate District, Announces Italian Collegiate Scholarships

New York State Senator Joe Robach (56th Senate District) announced today that the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is now accepting applications for four $2,000 scholarships, which will be awarded on June 9th at their Annual Legislative Conference Day.

“Given the high costs of college, every opportunity must be made by students and their families to meet their required expenses with scholarships, student loans, financial aid and personal contributions,” said Robach. “Our conference is very proud of our role in promoting higher education and assisting students in reaching their academic goals and full potential for future success.”

This year, the Italian-American State Legislators Conference will be awarding four $2,000 scholarships to four current or future college students from New York State. Eligibility will be based upon the student’s grade point average, interest in pursuing a higher education, involvement in the local community as well as individual financial need.

The Conference is a bipartisan organization of New York State Assembly and Senate members who are actively involved in promoting and celebrating the state’s Italian-American community. The Conference mission is to work hard to elevate and highlight Italian-American contributions to the State of New York and beyond, in all aspects of society, including literature, the arts, architecture and politics. The conference also tries to dispel negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans.

Students may request an application by contacting Joe Robach’s Senate office.

Joe Robach, New York State Senate Budget Resolution Highlights

Senator Joe Robach joined his colleagues in the State Senate in voting for a bipartisan budget that balances the budget without raising taxes or fees, increases school aid funding and provides significant business and property tax relief. The one-house spending plan was approved by a vote of 36-19.

“This bipartisan budget resolution will provide needed tax relief for hardworking families, businesses and manufacturers throughout New York, and continues to control state spending, something I take very seriously,” said Senator Joe Robach. “I applaud my colleagues in the State Senate for recognizing the needs of New Yorkers, and the importance of creating a more business-friendly atmosphere so we can create more jobs and improve our state’s economy.”

Other highlights from the Senate One-House Budget include:

EDUCATION
• Increases school aid by $811.9 million over last year.
• Restores $541 million of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a controversial budget maneuver enacted by the previous Senate Democrat Leadership. Under this plan, the GEA will be completely eliminated in two years after a total restoration of $1.1 billion – helping our schools and property taxpayers.
• The Senate budget provides $145 million to school districts outside New York City for Universal Pre-K expansion, while also giving school districts flexibility to use the funding for kindergarten and GEA restoration.

PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
• In addition to the $811.9 million increase in state school aid, the resolution includes the Senate’s “Freeze-Plus NY” program – a property tax freeze that would provide $1.4 billion in additional property tax relief over two years.
• The program – a simpler alternative to a tax freeze proposed by the Governor – would also make the property tax cap permanent, strengthen the STAR program, and help local governments and school districts keep within the property tax cap.

TAX CUTS AND JOB CREATION
• The Senate budget expands tax relief statewide for manufacturers and accelerates the elimination of the job-killing 18-a energy tax surcharge on businesses so they can use the resulting savings to hire new workers and grow.

HIGHER EDUCATION
• The Senate is proposing the College Affordability Plan which would help middle-class families afford higher education, pay off their student loan debt and encourage graduates to start a career in New York State.
• Specifically, it increases tuition assistance for low- and middle-income taxpayers, makes more students eligible for TAP, creates a low-interest revolving loan fund to help students pay off loan debt, and establishes a new tax credit for graduates who stay and work in New York.
Under the Budget Reform Act of 2007, both houses of the State Legislature will now convene in open conference committees to resolve differences in their one-house budget resolutions. The state’s new fiscal year begins April 1.
For more information on the Senate plan, contact the office of Joe Robach.

SENATE PASSES BILL, SONSORED BY JOE ROBACH, TO HELP PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES

The New York State Senate today passed legislation that would prosecute those who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment while committing another crime. The Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), would hold criminals accountable for financial and environmental damage caused by their actions when they contaminate or destroy the quality of water, soil, or air.

During one incident that took place in August 2010, criminals broke into a spare electrical transformer owned by Rochester Gas and Electric in the Town of Greece, Monroe County, and stole copper to resell for profit. During the process of accessing the copper, 4,800 gallons of oil was drained from the transformer, causing land and water contamination of the surrounding environment at an estimated remediation cost of over $1 million. There are no current Criminal Mischief statutes that adequately address environmental devastation.

“So often, when a crime is committed, we are so focused on seeking justice that we tend to forget about the long-term effects the crime could have on our environment,” said Senator Joe Robach. “With appropriate penalties, I hope this bill will hold criminals accountable for damaging the environment or contaminating our water, soil or air.”

This bill would make crimes that result in large-scale environmental damage – either intentionally or recklessly – a class C felony.

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

JOE ROBACH SENATE | SENATE FORECASTS $353 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL STATE REVENUES

Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos, Senate Independent Democrat Conference Leader Jeff Klein along with Senator Joe Robach released a revenue forecast by the Senate Finance Committee that estimates additional General Fund revenues above the Executive’s projection. The Senate report, supported by Joe Robach, projects revenues of $265 million more than the Executive’s estimate for Fiscal Year 2015, and $88 million more for the remainder of state fiscal year 2014.

The revenue projection, based on an economic forecast by the Senate’s nationally recognized fiscal consultants IHS Global Insight, shows that the total two-year General Fund revenue surplus is $353 million.

The revenue forecast report cites strong stock market growth in 2013, as well as improved business growth, as factors in projecting additional revenues over the two fiscal years.

“The additional state revenues should be used to further reduce taxes to create more job opportunities for all New Yorkers,” Joe Robach (56th Senate District) said. “The state’s fiscal condition is stronger as a result of three consecutive early budgets that kept state spending under control and lowered taxes. The new budget should build on that record.”

The revenue forecast report is posted on the Senate web site at — http://www.nysenate.gov/report/economic-and-revenue-review-sfy-2014-15

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SENATE EDUCATION CHAIRMAN JOHN FLANAGAN, SENATE FINANCE CHAIRMAN JOHN DEFRANCISCO AND ROCHESTER AREA SENATOR JOE ROBACH

As members of the New York State Senate, we are deeply offended by Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s recent assertion that the children in New York City are more deserving and more in need of early childhood education than the 4 and 5-year-olds in the communities we represent.

We know Mayor DeBlasio has a lot on his plate, but he may be interested in learning a few facts about the rest of the state.  All four of the big city school districts, including Rochester Syracuse and Buffalo, are poorer than New York City, and 70 percent (471) of the school districts across the state – – serving more than 1.2 million students – – are less wealthy than the one he represents.

In addition, 20 percent of the school districts in New York State have a greater percentage of students with higher needs than New York City, and many of those districts are worse off than the worst parts of New York City.  Meanwhile, the City of Rochester has the fifth highest poverty rate among all U.S. cities.  In fact, during legislative budget hearings we heard testimony from many Upstate mayors about the difficulties their cities are facing.

We have a responsibility to provide every student in this state with the same opportunity to learn and to succeed, not just the students in New York City.

For more information about this statement from Senate members, please contact the office of Joe Robach.

Senate Passes Bill, Supported by Joe Robach, to Prevent Welfare Cards from Buying Tobacco, Alcohol and Being Used at Liquor Stores, Casinos and Strip Clubs

The New York Senate, supported by Joe Robach, passed the “Public Assistance Integrity Act” which would prohibit welfare benefits from being used to purchase alcohol and tobacco, or to be used at liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs in New York.

Parts of the Public Assistance Integrity Act were also added to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal. The provisions added would make it illegal to use EBT Cards at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.

When people sign up for welfare, they are issued an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a cash card at any ATM or like a debit card at a store. The card accesses two separate accounts: Food Stamps and Cash Assistance. Food stamps are tightly regulated – but Cash Assistance is not.  Public records and investigative reports by the news media have shown widespread abuse of the EBT cards. Cards are used to buy beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, or at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.  The Senate crafted the Public Assistance Integrity Act to address that issue.

That taxpayer money is designed to go toward helping families in need purchase things like toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, school supplies and clothes.

New York faces an important deadline: By Feb. 22, the state must show the federal government how it will prevent welfare fraud and abuse from EBT cards. If it doesn’t, New York stands to lose more than $120 million in federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).

The State Senate voted, along with Joe Robach, to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act overwhelmingly – three times, in fact. To date, the state Assembly has refused to take it up.

For more information about this or any other senate initiative, please contact the office of Joe Robach.

NYS SENATE | JOE ROBACH HOSTS EARTH DAY POSTER CHALLENGE

Joe Robach and the NYS Senate are hosting a poster contest for local students to celebrate Earth Day.  Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, over 20 million Americans have participated, helping to improve the quality of air we breathe and the water we drink. In addition, landmark legislation has been passed to help support this effort, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Joe Robach and The New York State Senate take this opportunity to celebrate the great strides New York has made in helping to improve our environment. From expanding the bottle bill to promoting green energy, New York is helping to make a difference.

To celebrate and honor Earth Day this year, Joe Robach and the New York State Senate are sponsoring a poster contest for children in grades K – 6. The theme of the Earth Day celebration is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” All entries will be displayed on Joe Robach’s website, with the winning poster being featured. Students are encouraged not only to be creative in their project, but also to convey a real commitment to making the environment a better place.

For more information, contact Joe Robach.