Summarizing what is being widely recognized as one of the most successful sessions for the New York Legislature in decades, my office is offering a 2012 year-end review for each community in the Seventh Senate District.
In stark contrasts to Washington D.C., there’s been an unprecedented sense of bi-partisan cooperation in Albany which is finally putting our state on solid footing.
My initiatives received notable support from Republicans and Democrats alike with 21 pieces of new legislation signed into law in 2012. In addition, his office was able to assist communities in the district with more than $5 million in much-needed state aid for local projects.
Some highlights include:
An On-Time and Balanced State Budget
For the second straight year, my colleagues and I worked with Governor Cuomo to pass a balanced state budget that cut spending and included no new taxes or fee increases.
The Expansion of DNA Databank
The Senate passed the expansion of the DNA Databank to include all crimes. The expansion, which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo, will not only help convict the guilty and bring closure to thousands of victims in unsolved cases, it will exonerate the innocent.
Senate Passes Historic I-STOP Legislation
In response to the prescription drug abuse academic, the Senate passed I-STOP legislation, which I co-sponsored. I-STOP, which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo, may very well be the signature piece of legislation for the 2012 Legislation Session. The law creates an online database that will record every prescription for a controlled substance written in the state. Doctors and pharmacists will check the database before writing and filling a new prescription, enabling them to determine if someone is “doctor shopping” to load up on prescriptions to feed an addiction or sell to others. The new law is a major weapon in the fight against prescription drug abuse, which has reached epidemic proportions with over 22 million prescriptions for painkilling drugs written in New York State in 2010 alone. The state population is only about 19.5 million.
Senate Creates Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery
After Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island with devastating effects, the Senate created its Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery. Recognized for the bipartisan support, I was appointed to the statewide task force. The task force identifies communities most in need of recovery assistance and will be developing legislative solutions to implement the recommendations made by the NYS Respond Commission and the NYS Ready Commission.
Senator Martins Appointed to Long Island Regional Economic Development Council
Recognized for community development, I was appointed to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. I am the only Long Island Senator to serve on the council. In 2012, the council secured nearly $60 million to help fund projects on Long Island that will create jobs and stimulate the economy. Among some of the projects funding will go toward are the Winthrop Research Institute that will focus on childhood obesity and diabetes.
Local Governments, Schools Continue to Use Lever Voting Machines
Thanks to a bill passed by Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and myself, local governments, special districts and school districts can continue to use lever-style voting machines instead of being mandated to obtain costly scanner machines. Removing the mandates allows for local governments and school districts to continue to hold elections as they have in the past, saving the costs associated with the scanner machines and paper ballots, a cost that would ultimately be borne by taxpayers.
Senator Martins’ Notice of Claim Legislation Signed Into Law
A bill introduced to provide a uniform and fair process for serving a notice of claim to commence an action or proceeding was signed into law by the governor.
New laws that took effect on January 1, 2012 include:
- New Protections for Domestic Violence Victims (S7638) – A new law designed to protect victims’ health care and insurance information. As of the first of the year, victims of domestic violence who seek medical and/or mental health services and use their health insurance to pay for that care can designate alternative contact information so they may receive health insurance correspondence in a safe location of their own choosing.
- Ban on Electronic Cigarettes for Minors (S2926B) – a new law prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to children under the age of 18 years old.
- Solar Energy Sales Tax Exemption (S3203B) – exempts the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment from state sales tax and compensating use taxes. As of Jan. 1, 2013, municipalities will also have the authority to provide this exemption from local sales and use taxes.
- Student Health Care (S7314A) – allows eligible private and public colleges and universities in New York State to self-insure for their students’ health insurance needs. A college or university that becomes self-insured can be designed to meet the needs of the students and can reduce administrative costs.
Critical Funding and Common Sense for New Hyde Park
On the local level, my office was able to secure critical funding for projects benefitting New Hyde Park. They include:
- Herricks School District - $100,000 for purchase of technology equipment.
- Hillside Public Library - $100,000 for resurfacing of parking lot, additional lighting and fencing.
- New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District - $100,000 for the construction of a new parking lot.
- Town of North Hempstead - $500,000 for design and renovation costs associated with the restoration of the Schumacher House.
- Village of Lake Success - $50,000 for road resurfacing improvements.
- Garden City Park Fire District - $100,000 for portable radio upgrade and related equipment.
He also allocated $30,000 each in bullet aid to the Herricks School District and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District as well as $100,000 to the Sewanhaka Central High School District.
MTA Payroll Tax Declared Unconstitutional
The senator applauded the State Supreme Court’s decision declaring the MTA Payroll Tax unconstitutional. When I served as the mayor of Mineola, I was one of the original plaintiffs in the case to stop the job-killing tax from hurting businesses, schools and non-profits. As a member of the Senate, I was the co-sponsor of bills to repeal the tax for small businesses, schools and libraries and well as counties, towns and villages.
Senator Martins Leads Fight for LIRR Ticket Validity Period Extension
The senator was successful in convincing the Long island Rail Road to extend their ticket validity period. LIRR railroad tickets are now valid for two months as opposed to the former two-week period.
Improvements to Jericho Turnpike Underway
The senator was instrumental in coordinating efforts for the Jericho Turnpike improvement project, which includes the repaving of the major road from the Queens border to Glen Cove Road.
Senator Martins Secures Holocaust Memorial Funding
The senator secured $100,000 for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County to be used toward the creation of a multi-media, historical exhibit.
Senator Partners with New Hyde Park PAL
Work has begun on the renovation to the gymnasium of the New Hyde Park PAL house. The senator has been working with the PAL in trying to find funding sources for the project, which includes remediating any future flooding issues.