E-Mail Newsletter – June 15, 2015

These final days of session have been a whirlwind of passing critical, last minute legislation – including a number of bills I have sponsored and championed.

Petroleum Storage Surety. I was joined by Assemblymember McDonald, Assemblymember Steck, and Senator Avella (IDC-Queens), along with local leaders and environmental advocacy organizations to promote my Petroleum Storage Surety bill (A.7625/S.5751-A), that would ensure financial requirements are met when storing crude oil to prevent taxpayers from being responsible in instances of inadvertent crude oil shipment accidents or spills.

The legislation, if passed, would apply to crude oil stored at all bulk storage facilities in New York State – including the Port of Albany – and require financial security to meet all responsibilities for cleanup and decontamination costs associated with the release of such oil.

Since I originally introduced this legislation just one year ago, the growth of crude oil transportation has continued to climb. With storage facilities here at the port, Albany is host to the convergence of two major oil freight lines. This bill ensures that crude oil operators and storage facilities are responsible for their actions, not taxpayers or the public at large.

I joined Susan Arbetter on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom to talk more about why this legislation is necessary for our region’s safety.

Designation of Lieutenant Colonel Todd J. Clark Memorial Highway. Legislation I sponsored to designate a portion of Route 146 as the Lieutenant Colonel Todd J. Clark Memorial Highway has passed the Assembly. Lieutenant Colonel Clark, on his fifth tour of duly made the ultimate sacrifice for our country when he was killed in action on June 8, 2013 while serving as a Senior Advisor to the Afghan National Army.

Presenting half-staff flags for fallen police and peace officers. Legislation I sponsored has passed to provide for the presentment the flags flown at half-staff to the families of fallen police and peace officers. The legislation prescribes that in the event the governor orders the flags of the United States and the State of New York, to be lowered to half-staff, in memorial of the death of any police officer or peace `officer arrange for the procurement of a flag of the United States and a flag of the State of New York, which were flying over the Capitol building at the time such flags were lowered to half-staff in compliance with the governor's order.

Environmental caucus supports legislation I sponsored. As debate wages on regarding so many major issues here in ‪Albany, we cannot lose sight on ensuring that legislation that protects and empowers our environment passes both houses before the end of session, including my Petroleum Storage Surety bill and the Crude Oil Shipment Reporting bill. I'm pleased to have the support of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators in moving these bills forward. I continue to urge the rest of my Assembly colleagues to support these important pieces of legislation as we close out this year's session.

Synthetic Drug Ban. The Assembly has passed legislation that I supported that institutes a ban on new class of synthetic drugs – often called “N-Bomb” or “Smiles” – which are designed to mimic the hallucinogenic effects of LSD (A.627-A). The bill continues the Assembly’s efforts to ban new synthetic drugs which pose a major threat to public health, especially among young adults and teenagers. The Assembly’s bill builds on the work of legislation passed in previous years to ban manufactured stimulants commonly known as “bath salts.”

Prescription Drug Access. The Assembly has passed legislation that I supported which would allow consumers to fill their prescriptions at an in-network neighborhood pharmacy, instead of being forced to use an out-of-state mail-order program by their health insurance plan (A.6194).

The legislation would close a series of loopholes in state law that allow insurance companies to place barriers between patients and their local pharmacy, instead pushing them to use mail-order pharmacies. Mail-order pharmacies are often owned by the insurance company, allowing them to drive up profits by cutting out local options.

Events and Highlights from the 109th:

Fourth Annual Summer Solstice Festival. The Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail will host their fourth annual Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 20. The event is made up of their Hike-a-thon from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by the festival from noon to 4 p.m.

The Hike-a-thon consists of six concurrent hikes on Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Preserves in Albany County and there will be two hikes on the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail.

Sign up for new, free City of Albany summer camps. Are you interested in finding free, fun and healthy activities this summer for children and young adults you know? Then check out the expanded line-up of summer camps below for a sport that would interest them, and sign them up by calling the City’s Department of Recreation main number at (518) 434-5699 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Mondays through Fridays or by emailing recintern@albanyny.gov or Amanda Paeglow at apaeglow@albanyny.gov. Sign up is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For adults, there’s also Yoga and Zumba classes taking place in various parks through the 1609 Fitness Challenge, a city-wide summer fitness initiative established last year. For more details, call (518) 434-5699 or visit All camps are co-ed. For camp dates, times and locations, visit albanyny.gov.

Locally produced film to have free screening at the Palace. On Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m., the Palace Theatre and the City of Albany are will present special free screening of the critically-acclaimed Albany documentary “Ballin’ at the Graveyard.” This Albany-produced documentary offers an in-depth look at the unique culture and community bonds at the long-standing summer weekend pickup basketball game at Albany's Washington Park, known as “The Graveyard.”

Free tickets are available in person in the rotunda at Albany City Hall (24 Eagle St.) and the Palace Theatre Box Office (19 Clinton Ave.), open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 pm., as well as select hours during events. To view the film’s trailer visit http://ballinatthegraveyard.com/the-trailer/. Warning: The film does contain adult language.

Job Opportunities: New York State has setup a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit jobs.ny.gov 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.

Sincerely ---