When I was elected last fall, voters made it clear that it was time to change the way Albany does business. The Legislature got your message.
For the first time in over two decades we worked together to pass an on-time, responsible budget that restores health care funding, protects property taxpayers and invests in our children’s future.
We reformed the rules of the Assembly to make it more effective, productive and responsive to the needs of New Yorkers. And beginning next year, there will be gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Assembly and Senate. Similar to C-SPAN, you will now be able to view the state Legislature and get a better understanding of your state government via television.
The Legislature showed what’s possible when we put our differences aside and work together in a bipartisan manner to get results.
While this year has been a step in the right direction, there is much more to be done. In 2006, I will continue to focus on the issues that matter most – the creation of good-paying jobs, quality education for our children, access to sound health care, and a reduction in the tax burden to help you keep more of your hard-earned money.
As always, I welcome your input, so please feel free to call 723-9047 or e-mail me to share your thoughts, concerns or questions. Together, we can work to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Working to Make State Government More Accountable...
Assemblywoman Lupardo understands that taxpayers deserve a more open and accountable state government. That’s why she helped spearhead the effort to enact these historic reforms:
Assemblywoman Lupardo also authored legislation that would provide greater public disclosure and review of state government contracts with private consulting services. The bill passed unanimously in both houses but the governor vetoed the bill (Veto 114 of 2005). While Assemblywoman Lupardo is disappointed, she will continue fighting for greater public disclosure.
|Protecting our Neighborhoods
Keeping our Families Safe from Sex Offenders
To keep communities in Broome County safe from sexual predators, Lupardo worked to strengthen New York’s sex offender registry, commonly known as Megan’s Law. These measures protect families by ensuring information is made readily available to communities:
These measures are the first steps toward preventing sex crimes and punishing sex offenders – but more needs to be done. Assemblywoman Lupardo recently participated in a roundtable discussion, as well as public hearings, to consider civil confinement for those convicted of the most heinous sex offenses and to gain insight on strengthening sex offender laws. As a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Mental Health, she voted in favor of the civil confinement bill (A.2693) and will continue to support the measure.
For more information about listed sex offenders, contact the Sex Offender Registry Information Line at 1-800-262-3257.
To review information about Level 3 sex offenders via the Internet visit: www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us.
Cracking Down On Methamphetamine
Bipartisan legislation that Assemblywoman Lupardo co-sponsored to help crack down on methamphetamine use in New York was recently signed into law (Ch. 394 of 2005).
This law improves law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest when they discover an illegal meth lab, and also makes it illegal to possess certain ingredients needed to manufacture methamphetamine.
The illegal use and manufacture of methamphetamine is on the rise in the Southern Tier. Methamphetamine is an addictive and powerful stimulant that activates certain systems in the brain. The drug is associated with serious health conditions, including aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, memory loss and potential heart and neurological damage.
Assemblywoman Lupardo believes this new law will send a strong message that meth labs will not be tolerated in our communities. She also believes we need to further educate the public on the dangers of methamphetamine.
Continuing her fight to keep drugs out of Broome County, Assemblywoman Lupardo secured a $41,000 grant for anti-drug and anti-violence programs for an area high school.
Protecting Our Families from Vapor Intrusion
Vapor intrusion occurs when contaminants vaporize and rise up through the foundations of homes and other buildings. The DEC, the state Department of Health, and the EPA have all issued draft guidelines pertaining to vapor intrusion, but none have been finalized. As a member of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblywoman Lupardo is working on legislation to create safeguards for renters who are not aware that they’re exposed to environmental hazards. While homebuyers must be informed of certain environmental threats, the same does not apply to renters. Lupardo’s bill would require landlords to advise their tenants of hazards such as radon or vapor intrusion.
According to a recent study published October 30, more than 50 renters were living in apartment buildings in a polluted section of Endicott without systems to prevent vapor intrusion.
Exposure to the dangerous chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) has been associated with cancer, birth defects and damage to the brain, nerves and organs.
Assemblywoman Lupardo believes that renters’ health and well-being are just as important as homeowners’, and leaving renters unaware of health hazards is unacceptable.
Reinvesting In Our Communities
Assemblywoman Lupardo secured up to $155,000 to clean up seven brownfield sites – formally known as EJ Industrial Spine – along Route 17 in Binghamton and Johnson City. Community-based organizations and municipalities will have access to financial assistance for neighborhood planning and brownfield site assessment.
These sites represent a part of Binghamton’s industrial past – a time when its economy prospered. Capitalizing on these properties by making them viable again will help bolster Binghamton’s economy by bringing much-needed jobs and business to the community.
Local Environmental Issues: Gas Drilling On State Land
As a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblywoman Lupardo keeps up to date on environmental issues that affect her district.
Assemblywoman Lupardo held a meeting in August at the Vestal Public Library for residents to raise questions and concerns about the DEC’s proposed natural gas drilling in Vestal. The DEC is proposing to lease 21,000 acres of state reforestation for oil and gas development and exploration – including 512 acres of the Tracy Creek Forest in Vestal. There has been no word yet on the DEC’s proposal.
Helping to Keep your Credit and Identity Secure
As of September 5, 2005, all New Yorkers can get a free credit report annually from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
This is a great opportunity for New Yorkers to monitor their credit accounts to safeguard their finances and prevent identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen credit card, Social Security number, driver’s license number, ATM pin number, calling cards or other personal information to buy merchandise or charge services to an existing account. However, many victims of identity theft do not realize it is happening to them until it is too late. By monitoring your credit report, suspicious activity can be caught quickly. If you think your identity has been stolen:
To request free annual credit reports, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
You may also request reports by writing to:
Annual Credit Report, Request Service
For credit advice, visit New York State’s banking Web site at: www.banking.state.ny.us/csbr.htm.
Click on Understanding your Credit Report and your Credit Score.
Acting to Keep Energy Costs Down
Assemblywoman Lupardo recently participated in an Assembly hearing in Binghamton to find a long-term solution to rising energy costs. Natural gas and oil costs are expected to increase by 30 percent and electric bills will also rise 10-20 percent this winter, presenting Broome County families, businesses and school districts with serious financial challenges. Assemblywoman Lupardo urges Broome County residents to take measures now to keep energy costs down this winter.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is available for renters and homeowners to assist in meeting home energy heating costs. There are income eligibility levels, depending on the number of persons in the household, and other housing requirements to participate. For more information, contact the Broome County HEAP Unit at 778-2063 or Broome County’s Office for the Aging (for those who are 60 years old or older) at 778-2411.
Broome County residents should also weatherize homes and businesses to reduce unnecessary costs. These steps include air sealing like weather stripping and caulking, insulation, heating system improvements or replacement and improvements in lighting efficiency. Income-eligible families may apply to have these measures done in their homes through the Weatherization Referral Assistance Program. For more information, call 778-2411.
|Legislative News for Hunters
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the following hunting and trapping changes for 2005-2006:
A pilot program to expand the age structure of the buck population will be implemented in two Wildlife Management Units located primarily in Ulster County. This new harvest strategy will require bucks taken in WMUs 3C and 3J have at least three antler points on a side to be legal. Young hunters under the age of 17 would be exempt from this requirement.
A new law expands the use of rifles to hunt deer and bear in 11 Upstate counties (Ch. 600 of 2005). Rifles can now be used in portions of Broome County east of the Susquehanna River, as well as Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chenango, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Schoharie and Tioga counties.
The use of rifles for big game hunting is allowed in all counties in the Northern Zone.
Hunting Season Dates for 2005
Improving Highway Safety
With more than 2,000 highway crashes a year in New York, highway work zones remain a dangerous place to work. This year, Assemblywoman Lupardo sponsored the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005 (Ch. 223 of 2005) to help improve the safety of highway construction workers and motorists. More specifically, the law will:
This law will also protect workers through public service announcements, distribution of literature and public awareness campaigns about highway construction and maintenance safety.
Assemblywoman Lupardo watches as Governor Pataki signs the Work Zone Safety Act into law.
Passing VaSean’s Law
Assemblywoman Lupardo helped pass VaSean’s Law which significantly strengthens New York laws that punish drunk drivers who kill or seriously injure other people while driving (Ch. 39 of 2005).
VaSean’s Law is named in memory of 11-year-old VaSean Alleyne, a victim of a drunk driver who could not be charged with a felony under the previous law. The new law strengthens a provision of the previous law to make it easier for district attorneys to prosecute drivers for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter when serious physical injury or death is caused by a person driving a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by the use of a drug.
Under the terms of VaSean’s Law, the previous law is tightened by removing the element of criminal negligence required to prosecute crimes of vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter. This law provides that a person who drove intoxicated and killed or seriously injured another person because of that intoxication would be guilty of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault. The law also creates a statutory presumption that any driver who kills or injures while drunk is guilty of a felony.
Strengthening Dangerous Driving Laws
Assemblywoman Lupardo also supports a new law that increases penalties for leaving the scene of an accident that results in personal injury or death (Ch. 49 of 2005).
Under the previous law, an intoxicated driver who stays at the scene of an accident resulting in the death of another person faced a more serious charge – second degree vehicular manslaughter, a Class D felony – than if he or she left the scene and sobered up – which was a Class E felony. This new law prevents this problem from happening and no longer rewards an intoxicated driver for fleeing the scene of an accident.
Rebuilding and Renewing our Transit Systems with the Transportation Bond Act
The recent approval of the $2.9 billion Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act will improve New York’s transportation infrastructure, create jobs and promote economic growth and energy conservation.
It is a comprehensive, fiscally responsible plan that will expand the capacity and safety of our roads and bridges, railroads, airports and canals and improve our economic vitality for years to come.
The Bond Act provides over $55 million to Broome County which will be used toward:
Also, the Broome County Department of Transportation will receive $813,000 to purchase four new buses through the Transit Clean Fuel Vehicle Initiative that will help reduce emissions and enhance air quality in Broome County.
The heart of our state’s industries like agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on our transportation systems. Over the next five years critical improvements will be made to allow New York to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
State Office Building, 17th Floor
44 Hawley Street
Binghamton, NY 13901