Paper, Plastic, or Planet?; Harvey Relief Efforts

August 31, 2017

It seems that fall is suddenly upon us this week, with temperatures dipping below the 60s at night—not to mention budget season appears to be starting with lobbyists trickling back into the Capitol. Good luck to families sending kids back to school this coming week!

Letter to the Editor in the Altamont Enterprise. I have a Letter to the Editor published in this week’s Altamont Enterprise responding to an editorial last week about the use of plastic bags. Earlier this year, I was the only Upstate Assemblymember to vote against the repeal of a 5-cent ‘bag fee’ in New York City. The Enterprise outlined the real risks of our collective grocery habit. Experts estimate that discarded plastic polyurethane bags can linger in our waterways and environment for 1,000 years. When placed in landfills, they’re more likely to mummify than to ever decompose. Evidence from behavioral economics suggests the best way to cut down on plastic bag pollution is to implement a small fee for bags—a similar fee in D.C. reduced bag usage by 47%. I’ll continue to explore solutions to this problem that protects small businesses and low-income individuals.

Schneiderman Advises Research on Harvey Donations. I’m truly inspired by the outpouring of support for victims of Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding in the greater Houston area. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a reminder earlier this week to research charities before donating to ensure your donation is used as effectively as possible. Visit to be sure your donation will be used to directly help victims.

Capitol Tonight Story on “Gaveling In”. This week I joined Capitol Tonight’s Nick Reisman to discuss one of the unique aspects of my job as the Assemblymember whose district includes the State Capitol. As the Assemblymember holding the Capitol seat, it’s my job to “gavel in” every third day when the Assembly is not in session, with lots of help from my colleague, Assemblymember John McDonald! This practice dates back to 1978 after Governor Hugh Carey appointed a commissioner he knew the legislature would not approve during legislative recess. Calling session to order, even when there are no legislators present, maintains the autonomy of the state legislature.

Local Family Concerned About Bridge Renaming. Earlier this year, it was announced that the Tappan Zee Bridge (officially the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge) was to be renamed the Mario M Cuomo Bridge. The change has come under criticism by Barbara Garffuri, a long-time Albany School Board member who also happens to be former Governor Wilson’s niece. Interestingly, it was Mario Cuomo himself who originally proposed honoring Governor Wilson by naming the bridge in his honor. I hope that the state will find a suitable place to continue to honor the service of Governor Wilson.

Community Updates

Albany Patroons Return. Exciting news for basketball fans in the Capital Region! The Albany Patroons, formerly a CBA team which played at the Armory starting in 1982, will start a new season in January as part of the new North American Premier Basketball League. I’m excited for the return of professional basketball to our region and wish the Patroons the best of luck in their upcoming season.

Albany International Center Opens. It was an emotional day for the opening of the new Albany International Center on Wednesday. The new school will assist students who need additional support to learn English and adapting to a new country and culture. 53 languages are spoken in the Albany school district. This new school will help integrate students into their new home in a truly safe and supportive environment. The legislature appropriated an unprecedented $2 million for refugee resettlement services this year, an effort I was proud to support.

Former Superintendent Young Wilkins Appointed to NYSED. State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia Wednesday announced the appointment of Dr. Kimberly Young Wilkins as Assistant Commissioner for Innovation and School Reform. In her new role, Young Wilkins will oversee the Office of Innovation and School Reform’s efforts to implement New York’s School Receivership program in schools identified as Struggling and Persistently Struggling, as well as selected grant programs intended to increase student results in low-performing schools. She previously served as the Superintendent of Albany City Schools, where she had an exceptional tenure. Best of luck Dr. Young!

Labor Day Events. The labor movement has made massive contributions to the well-being of every American. New York has a long history of recognizing these contributions, and was one of the first states to observe Labor Day in 1887. I’m proud to represent the most unionized state in the country, and will continue to be a friend to this movement that built the backbone of the American middle class.

Several Labor Day events will be taking place in the Capital Region this upcoming week:

The Capital District Area Labor Federation Labor Day Picnic and Celebration Potluck

When: Monday September 4, 12AM to 5PM

Where: Cook Park, Shambrook Pkwy, Colonie

Capital District Labor Parade

When: Friday, September 8, 6PM to 10PM

Where: Corning Preserve, Albany

Job Opportunities: New York State has set up a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.