BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, has urged the Western New York district of the U.S. Postal Service to re-launch an important, very low-cost program that aims to protect the health and well-being of local senior citizens and people with disabilities. It’s called Carrier Alert, and it provides a daily check-in and notification system [...]
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblyman Sean Ryan today announced a major state grant award to substantially rehabilitate several vacant houses on Buffalo’s West Side. The New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) will invest $175,000 to renovate five vacant homes in the 19th Street neighborhood – which will, in turn, open up [...]
Leslie Zemsky, is the Director of Special Events and Projects for the Larkin Group in the City of Buffalo. Known as the company’s “Director of Fun,” Ms. Zemsky plays an integral role in the success of the Larkin Development Group, considered one of the most prestigious companies based in Buffalo’s central business district.
Ms. Zemsky is also the owner of Rockspring Designs, LLC. Using her artistic skills, she produces artwork in the mediums of watercolor, gouache and oil and provides services for custom illustrating and design and layout features for cards, invitations and other special print products.
An active member in her community, Ms. Zemsky currently serves as the president of the board for the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. She is also a member of the advisory board for the Buffalo Arts and Technology Center and a member of the board for Visit Buffalo Niagara.
Throughout her life she has selflessly involved herself in community projects and organizations including serving as the founding chair of Advancing Arts and Culture Buffalo Niagara; past trustee for the The Erie County Cultural Resource Advisory Board; past trustee for The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; past trustee of Elmwood Franklin School; past trustee of Temple Beth Zion; past trustee of Nichols School; and past member of Maria Love Convalescent Fund Board.
She also tirelessly served as the past chair of many community fundraisers in Western New York, including the Junior League Show House, the Philharmonic Ball and the Nichols and Elmwood Franklin School annual auctions, to name a few.
Ms. Zemsky is also a past member of the Junior Group at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Buffalo.
A resident of Buffalo, Ms. Zemsky and her husband Howard are the proud parents of three children, Kayla, Harry and David.
We are currently celebrating National Women’s Health Week.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to report that I’ve just voted to approve two critically important bills that are designed to improve women’s health care throughout our state. These measures include the following:
Breast Cancer Mapping — Few New York families haven’t been touched in some way by the great pain, suffering and loss that can be caused by breast cancer. Fortunately, both the Senate and Assembly have now taken action on legislation allowing funds from the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund to be used for breast cancer mapping initiatives, and to generate innovative proposals that can help identify why some areas are more prone to breast cancer than others. We’ve made great strides in identifying the incidences of breast cancer statewide, but more can and should be done to isolate clusters and areas of the state where this insidious disease is more common than others.
Promoting Awareness of Women’s Health Coverage — This legislation directs the state Department of Health (DOH) to create a new website that provides a wide array of additional information about women’s health issues, coverage for preventive services, and key health care resources that are available across New York State. By increasing public awareness of newly-covered health care services, and by encouraging more women to receive preventive services and screenings, we can and will help save lives. Having been passed by the Senate, the bill now goes to the Assembly.
I was proud to support these important measures, and will continue fighting to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for you and your family throughout the remainder of the Legislative Session. These two potentially life-saving initiatives help to achieve that goal.
Empire State Development President & CEO Ken Adams says state wants advice from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council on Skyway removal. In urging the Regional Council to support the effort, Kennedy calls Skyway removal a transformative infrastructure project that will boost the economy, similar to Robert Moses Parkway removal. Kennedy: Razing the ‘structurally deficient’ [...]
Senator George Maziarz today announced that Marcia Tuohey of Medina has been recognized as a 2013 New York State Senate “Woman of Distinction.”
“Marcia has been a mainstay in business and government in Orleans County for many years,” Senator Maziarz said. “More that than though, she’s been a trailblazer for women who want to take an active role in improving their communities. She has worn many hats–literally and figuratively–but today our hats are off to her.”
Marcia enjoyed an active business career in Medina for thirty years as the co-owner and operator of a nursing home, motel and restaurant, mobile home park, and rental properties. Her success can be attributed to a great aptitude for recognizing and meeting the needs of the community, and possessing a strong work ethic.
Her determination carried over into Marcia’s notable career in public service. Marcia was elected as a trustee in Medina in 1979, and in 1982 she became the village’s first female mayor. In 1990, she became Orleans County’s first female county legislator, and served as Chairman of the Legislature from 1996 until 2006. Many local projects would not have come to fruition without her forceful advocacy and close supervision, including renovations to the historic Courthouse and Legislature buildings, an addition to the County Nursing Home, and the creation of a new Public Safety Center and Fire Training Facility. During her time in office, Marcia also helped lay the groundwork for the expansion of Genesee Community College in Orleans County and the construction of an ethanol plant in the Town of Shelby.
Marcia’s passion for serving the public has not subsided over the years, and today she takes great pride in serving as Orleans County’s representative on the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation.
Marcia Tuohey was honored at a reception in Albany on May 7th, where her photograph and biography were on display during a special public exhibit at the Legislative Office Building.
The Senate’s “Woman of Distinction” program was created in 1998 to honor women who exemplify personal excellence, or whose professional achievements or acts of courage, selflessness, integrity, or perseverance serve as an example to all New Yorkers. One woman from each Senate district is typically recognized.
The New York State Senate today passed legislation to crack down on auto insurance fraud which has led to injuries – even death – for innocent victims and costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year in higher premiums when New Yorkers already pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.
The three bills approved today would significantly cut down on auto insurance scams by increasing penalties for those who commit or assist in the fraud and by giving more flexibility to insurance companies to prevent criminals from getting policies and continuing to commit auto fraud.
“Auto fraud is a very serious problem that costs lives, and costs New Yorkers millions of dollars,” Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “The Senate has been passing bills to combat auto insurance for more than a decade, yet, the Assembly has not acted on them while the problem has only grown worse. It’s time the Assembly pass these bills so they can be signed into law, and consumers can save money by not having to pay the exorbitant rates that are caused by fraud.”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), New York ranks among the top five states for fraudulent auto insurance claims.
Earlier this year, the New York City Council held a public hearing on auto insurance fraud. At the hearing, Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Jeff Ferguson said 36 percent of insurance claims are either fraudulent or inflated and added that, “Some 22 percent of those claims were entirely bogus, while another 14 percent included inflated injuries and unnecessary treatments to gouge money from insurance companies.”
“New York is awash in a tsunami of insurance fraud. It is very encouraging to see the Senate take action on an issue that impacts so many New York State residents. The passage of these measures is critically necessary to stem the rampant fraud in the automobile no-fault system,” said John A. Corlett, Legislative Committee Chairman for AAA New York State, an association serving 2.7 million drivers in the state.
Senate action on the bills this year came shortly after the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Alice Ross, a 71-year-old wife and grandmother who was killed as the result of a fraud-related, staged auto accident in Queens. One of the criminals drove into her car, causing her to lose control of her vehicle, strike a tree and die.
The Senate’s Anti-Auto Fraud Legislative Package includes the following:
> Bill (S3547), sponsored by Senator James Seward (R,C,I- Oneonta): makes it a crime to stage a motor vehicle accident with intent to commit insurance fraud. If a staged motor vehicle accident results in serious injury or death, the person who staged the accident could face a maximum sentence of up to 25 years.
“Staged accidents hike auto insurance rates for all and pose a serious public safety risk as well,” Senator Seward, Chairman of the Insurance Committee, said. “Women and elderly drivers are in particular danger. They are often targeted because they are less likely to be confrontational after an accident, making it easier for criminals to take advantage of them. The Senate has recognized the need for change for some time and the Assembly needs to join the effort so we can put these criminal enterprises out of business for good.”
According to the NICB, insurers across the country reported a 102-percent increase in suspected cases of staged auto accidents between 2008 and 2011.
> Bill (S3033), sponsored by Senator Skelos (R, Rockville Centre): makes it illegal to act as a “runner” who steers accident victims towards crooked doctors who bill Medicaid for unnecessary medical treatments. Runners are key members of auto fraud rings. Under this bill, runners and their associates could face up to seven years in prison. (A.4597, sponsored by Assemblyman J.Gary Pretlow, D-Westchester.
“Runners and other street-level criminals that participate in these enterprises steal from all of us in the form of higher insurance premiums and fake medical billing,” Senator Skelos said. “We need to enact tough penalties that keep runners and other complicit individuals from taking advantage of New York’s no-fault system and profiting from their auto fraud-related crimes.”
> Bill (S1959A), sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn): allows insurance companies to retroactively cancel policies taken out by people who commit auto fraud. These criminals often take out policies and pay for them with bad checks or stolen credit cards just before they stage accidents. Under current law, insurance companies cannot cancel the policy and policyholders wind up paying for it through higher premiums. This bill would take that burden off honest consumers. (A3774A, sponsored by Assemblyman Carl Heastie, D-Bronx)
“Auto insurance fraud is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars, and it’s time that fair and honest members of our community stop paying for the crimes of others,” stated Senator Golden. “This legislation will give insurance companies the right to revoke insurance policies for those who try to game the system.”
This measure would bring New York in line with the other large no-fault states and remove any incentives for staged accidents. In fact, only seven other states (AZ, CO, KS, ME, MD, NC and SD) do not allow for retroactive cancellation. Innocent victims of uninsured drivers would be covered under their own policy or the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation.
Last year, the longest-running auto insurance rip-off scam in history was busted by federal and New York City authorities. Three dozen people, including doctors, lawyers and patients coached to fake injuries, are accused of stealing more than $279 million in accident benefits over five years. The ring allegedly exploited the state’s “no-fault” auto insurance law as their own giant state-sponsored ATM machine. In New York, vehicles registered in the state are required to carry insurance that lets drivers and passengers obtain up to $50,000 for accident injuries, regardless of fault.
The New York State Senate today gave final passage to a bill that provides additional resources for breast cancer research and also passed a measure to increase access to important information about changes to women’s health coverage. The bills, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County), support breast cancer mapping initiatives and facilitate public education about newly-covered preventive services and health screening for women.
“We have made great strides in identifying the incidences of breast cancer statewide, but more can and should be done to isolate clusters and areas of the state where this insidious disease is more common than others,” said Senator Hannon, Chairman of the Health Committee. “This bill would encourage more mapping and solicit innovative proposals to identify why some areas are more prone to breast cancer than others.”
Senator Hannon’s bill (S3768) allows funds from the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund to be used towards breast cancer mapping initiatives. The Fund supports research or educational programs which focus on the causes, prevention, screening, treatment and cure of breast cancer research. This legislation would add breast cancer mapping to the programs which currently include basic, behavioral, clinical, demographic, environmental, epidemiologic and psychosocial research.
Another bill (S3817) passed today directs the state Department of Health (DOH) to create a website that provides information about important changes to women’s health policy and other resources in New York.
“With more and more people turning to the Internet as their primary source of information on health care, we must make sure information is accessible, accurate and up to date,” said Senator Hannon. “A website aimed specifically at women is needed to promote recent changes in law which provide for coverage of a vast number of preventative services for women, at no cost to the individual. For example, women many not be aware that their insurance policy covers breast cancer mammography screening or cervical cancer screening at no cost to them. The goal of this legislation is to advance these preventative services and ensure they are being utilized.”
Recently enacted laws affecting public programs, insurance coverage and other aspects of health policy have resulted in increased coverage for 22 preventative services and the screening for certain diseases. The new DOH website and use of social media would help educate the public and raise awareness of the newly-covered health care services, provide links to useful resources, and encourage women to receive preventive services and screening.
Bill S3768 has also passed the Assembly and will be delivered to the Governor. Bill S3817 will be sent to the Assembly.
The New York State Senate yesterday passed bills that would continue to promote the construction of environmentally-friendly buildings and the cost-saving benefits of net metering for utility bills. Both bills are sponsored by Senator George D. Maziarz (R-C, Newfane), and would help reduce the consumption of limited natural resources, promote the use of renewable energy, and lower energy costs.
The first measure (S3977) would extend the state’s Green Residential Building Grant Program to continue encouraging the construction of environmentally-friendly buildings. “Green” construction includes improved environmental performance in site preparation, water efficiency, energy efficiency, building materials selection, and indoor environmental quality, relative to buildings that are built using typical construction practices. These features often result in a lower utility operating cost for the home over time.
The Green Residential Building Grant Program was created in 2008 and began offering incentives in 2010 based on standards set by the New York State Energy Development Research Authority (NYSERDA). As of September 2012, NYSERDA received 222 incentive applications, approved 188 for payment, and paid $1,016,293 in incentives to qualifying building owners. This bill would continue to offer the program through October 31, 2016.
“The Green Residential Building Grant Program implemented in 2008 has proven to work, both for ensuring the construction of greener building and for energy savings,” said Senator Maziarz, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. “The extension of this program will continue the important promotion of ‘green’ construction throughout this state, promoting improved environmental performance, such as energy and water efficiency. Not only will the extension continue to put New York in the national spotlight for environmental and energy legislation, but it will provide cost savings to residential utility bills over time.”
The second measure (S4514) would help more farms, municipalities and other non-residential customers receive the cost-cutting benefits of remote net metering by clarifying an existing 2011 law. Net metering allows the owner of a renewable energy system to receive credit on their utility bill for any unused power supplied to the electric grid by the system. The credit then is used to offset the power that is taken from the grid when the customer – including those with multiple meters – consumes more energy than the system is generating.
“Remote net metering has helped our state to unlock the potential of renewable energy generation and in the process we have reduced customer’s utility bills and harmful emissions,” said Senator Maziarz. “Since remote net metering was enacted in 2011, we have seen some examples of utility companies placing arbitrary restrictions on customers that have the effect of preventing them from realizing the full benefits of the program. This bill clarifies and reaffirms the letter and spirit of the remote net metering law we passed in unanimously in 2011, and demonstrates the strong commitment of the Senate Republican Conference to increasing our energy independence, lowering utility bills, and making the right choices for our environment.”
Some utility companies had been placing arbitrary minimum load requirements for non-residential remote net metering customers who utilize multiple meters under the same account, even though the law did not specify minimums needing to be met. This measure prohibits utility companies from placing load requirement on these customers if they were otherwise qualified to receive the benefits of remote net metering.
The New York State Senate today passed two bills that would allow for the use of lever-style voting machines in non-federal elections in New York City, and in elections held by villages, school districts and special districts.
Legislation (S4088B), sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn), would allow New York City to use lever voting machines for all non-federal elections, including the upcoming primary, run-off and general elections this fall. In addition, the bill would to move the date for a potential run-off election in New York City from September 24th to October 1st to avoid a conflict with the Jewish holiday Sukkot.
“The lever voting machines had been successfully used in New York for over 100 years. They have proven to be reliable and easy for voters to use,” Senator Golden said. “In addition, using lever voting machines will expedite the canvass of votes cast in the primary election and reduce the number of paper ballots that would need to be hand-counted.”
“The new voting machines are confusing to people and very hard to read, especially for seniors,” Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “The old saying is that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ To ensure an orderly election we should allow the simple, lever-style machines to be used.”
This year, the City of New York faces the prospect of three elections over a two-month period — the primary, a run-off primary, and the general election. The offices up for election this year include Mayor, City Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, and all of the City Council seats.
“This legislation would actually increase voter access to dependable voting processes,” Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I-C, Staten Island), a co-sponsor of the bill, said.
The City cannot risk the possibility that the new voting systems will fail to provide a full and fair election. This bill gives the City the necessary authority to use a voting process that has proven to work in the past and alleviate what could be an unnecessarily chaotic election.
To accommodate the disabled voters, the legislation requires that if lever voting machines are used, each polling place must have a voting machine designed to allow voting by disabled voters. These voting systems are already owned and used by the Board of Elections.
In addition, the Senate also passed legislation (S3705), sponsored by Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola), that would allow school districts, special districts and villages to permanently continue using lever voting machines in their respective local elections. This legislation would remove the 2014 sunset of provisions and permanently allow the use lever voting machines.
“The new scanner machines were intended to move us forward, but unfortunately were a huge step back for many,” said Senator Martins. “There are school districts, villages, and special districts that simply do not have the access to the scanners. As the law stands, their only alternative would be a paper ballot and in this day and age, it is not acceptable that we regress to a paper voting system. The prospect of our school districts and villages having to count thousands of paper ballots is absurd. Rather, the only way to ensure the integrity of every person’s vote is to allow for lever machines when scanners are not available. This bill does that.”
School districts and villages have expressed a preference to continue using the lever-style voting machines. This legislation would provide significant relief to local school districts, villages and special districts from the Help America Vote Act mandate. HAVA was intended to apply only to federal elections that have higher voter turnout.
State Sen. John Sampson charged today with embezzlement, obstruction of justice, witness tampering
Kennedy: Immediate action is needed to reform state government and clean up Albany. There’s no time for delay, and there is no room for excuses.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, says Albany needs to immediately get to work on stronger laws to prevent public corruption. With another state official now facing serious criminal charges, Kennedy is urging swift action on legislation to stiffen penalties against corruption and to clean up Albany.
“Yet another Albany politician is facing serious criminal charges. This Capitol crime spree is intolerable, and it needs to end now,” Kennedy said. “Western New Yorkers have had enough of the corruption and the violation of their trust. Swift action is needed to reform state government and ensure Albany is cleaned up once and for all. There’s no time for delay, and there is no room for excuses.”
In recent weeks, Senator Kennedy and several of his colleagues have proposed steps to combat public corruption. In addition to reforms proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Kennedy is urging the State Legislature to immediately take up provisions that would:
Enact comprehensive campaign finance reform that includes reduced donor limits, stronger enforcement from the Board of Elections and fair elections with publicly-financed matching contributions.
Institute harsher penalties for the misuse of public funds, acts of public corruption or bribery schemes.
Outlaw the use of campaign money for criminal defense.
Strengthen the regulations regarding the use of campaign money.
Require elected officials to post campaign donation information on their websites.
“Those individuals who have so egregiously violated the public’s trust need to resign, and from this point forward, the Legislature must work harder than ever to push for even stronger laws to root out corruption and clean up Albany,” Kennedy added. “I urge my colleagues in government to join me in immediate pursuit of an aggressive anti-corruption agenda.”
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and nearly all of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.
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