Tag Archive | "Fred W. Thiele"

Thiele Introduces Legislation to Regulate Running Bamboo

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly that, if passed, would regulate “running bamboo.” The legislation is modeled after legislation enacted in Connecticut that took effect last October.

“Running bamboo,” and its complex root system, is an extremely fast growing plant which can spread horizontally beyond property lines and cause significant physical, biologic, and ecologic damage to abutting properties.

The legislation would require that anyone who plants running bamboo on his or her property would be required to keep it within his property lines, effective October 1. Any person who is found to be in violation would be liable for any damages caused to neighboring property by the bamboo.

The legislation will also limit where people can plant running bamboo within 100 feet of any abutting property or public right of way unless the planting is confined by a barrier system or above-ground container and does not come into contact with surrounding soil.

Violators of the law would be subject to penalties under the State Environmental Conservation Law.

The legislation also requires retail sellers or installers of running bamboo to provide customers who purchase the plant with a statement that discloses that running bamboo is a fast-growing plant that may spread if not properly contained and a plain language summary of the law.

The legislation would supersede all local legislation relating to “running bamboo.”

 

 

State Education Aid Increases by $1.1 Billion

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced Monday that the 2014-15 state budget will increase state aid to education by $1.1 billion to more than $22 billion.

“The State Legislature has improved the governor’s 2014 state budget proposal by increasing school aid from a proposed 3.9 percent to 5.3 percent across the state,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Suffolk County’s share of aid also would increase by 5.3 percent. Suffolk had gotten its fair share of this year’s school aid increase.”

A major part of the school aid increase was the reduction of the Gap Elimination Adjustment by $602 million. The GEA was originally enacted to close a state budget deficit back in 2008-09.

Mr. Thiele said the final state budget also includes the governor’s $2 Billion Smart School Bond initiative to improve classroom technology and construct pre-kindergarten classroom space. He expressed support for the governor’s Smart School Bond Act, which must be approved by voters in November.

“The focus on improving quality education is a goal I fully support,” said Mr. Thiele. “This state aid proposal accomplishes that goal for Long Island and New York State.”

“Superintendents in my district conveyed that their priority for this year’s budget was the reduction of the GEA—a budget-balancing fiasco imposed by the Democrats in 2010 when they controlled all three branches of government.” said Senator Kenneth P. LaValle. “This year, we were successful in restoring $602 Million of the GEA money to local school districts. The state’s commitment to education is now well over $22 billion. This budget meets the needs of New York State’s children while at the same time providing property tax relief to residents who help underwrite the costs. I am pleased to have obtained increases for each school district in my area.”

Under the state budget, the Sag Harbor School District will receive $1,637,585, a 5.92-percent increase in state aid. The Bridgehampton School District will receive $656,377, a 10.9-percent increase. The East Hampton School District is set to receive $2.76 million in state aid, a 4.15-percent increase, and the Southampton School District will get $2.6 million, a 9.9-percent increase.

New York State Declares March 17 Pyrrhus Concer Day

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Brenda and Fred

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. presented Brenda Simmons, director of the African American Museum on the East End, with a proclamation declaring March 17 to be Pyrrhus Concer Day in New York State last Saturday.

The document was presented at a program held at the Southampton Historical Museum honoring the 200th anniversary of Concer’s birth. Over 120 people attended the event, including Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

Senator LaValle Requests Nominations for “Woman of Distinction”

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New York State Senator Ken P. LaValle is requesting nominations for a woman to be recognized as a New York State Senate “Woman of Distinction.”

Residents of the 1st Senate District have been encouraged to nominate friends, spouses, coworkers and neighborhood leaders who have performed outstanding work on behalf of their communities.

“This program provides us with a special opportunity to honor extraordinary women for their achievements.” said Senator LaValle. “I am proud that we have many deserving women in the area I represent. I look forward to reviewing the accomplishments of the nominees.”

The Senate will honor a distinguished woman from the 1st Senate District and throughout the state at a May 13 ceremony in Albany, with each honoree’s photograph and biography becoming part of a special exhibit. Previous winners have included leading women from the business world, academics and civic life, as well as those who have performed heroic or selfless acts, made significant discoveries or provided examples of personal excellence against significant odds.

To nominate an individual, visit SenatorLaValle.com.

DEC Will Revise Mute Swan Proposal

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Mute Swans at the East Hampton Nature Trail on Monday, 2/17/14

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced it is considering changes to a draft mute swan management plan following public outcry over plans to kill or capture all mute swans in the state by 2025.

According to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, over the past five weeks, the DEC has received more than 1,500 comments on the plan from individuals and organizations, as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions.

“The draft plan for management for mute swans received significant public interest and DEC received many thoughtful and substantive comments,” Commissioner Martens said. “DEC is listening to these comments and concerns and will revise the draft plan and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised plan this spring.”

In revising the plan, the DEC likely will acknowledge regional differences in status, potential impacts and desired population goals by setting varying goals for different regions of the state. In addition, the DEC will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s intended goals.

New recommendations are expected to be released this spring, and according to the DEC prior to finalizing the next draft, the DEC will meet with key stakeholder groups to ensure all potential management options are identified and considered.

Thiele: Local Power Plants Should be Permitted

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week he has introduced legislation in the State Assembly which would permit local governments — county, city, town or village — on Long Island to consider the creation of municipal power companies.

There are over 40 municipalities across the state which have established municipal power companies, including a few on Long Island such as the villages of Greenport, Freeport, and Rockville Centre. Since 1986, local governments on Long Island have been prohibited from forming a new municipal utility by state law. The reason: the law that created the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), a state authority, preempts counties, towns, villages, and cities from establishing a municipal power company within LIPA’s service area.

“The original intent of LIPA was twofold: (1) to prevent the unsafe Shoreham Nuclear power Station from operating, and (2) to eliminate LILCO, a private utility and replace it with a public authority governed by a board elected by the people of Long Island,” said Thiele in a press release. “The second goal, a true public utility governed by Long Islanders, has never been fulfilled as it was envisioned in 1986. It has never been governed by Long Islanders, and it has never been a ‘real’ public utility. It has never been more than a ‘shell’ corporation operated by political appointees who then contracted out operations to another private company. The perversion of this intent has meant disaster for Long Island, most recently manifested by the LIPA response to Superstorm Sandy.”

“It is clear that the intent of the 1986 law and the goal of a state public utility for Long Island are not going to be fulfilled,” added Thiele. “LIPA will remain as an empty shell and the day to day operations of Long Island’s electric service will be performed by an out-of-state private utility company. The details of this proposal are still to be worked out. Whether this model will result in an accountable and transparent management structure that will provide reliable power and long term stable rates is also unclear. However, the possibility of public power should not be fully abandoned and the home rule powers of local government on Long Island should be restored. My bill would do both. In the future, Long Islanders should have the ability to choose municipal power, if they believe it would be superior to the proposed near-privatization model currently under consideration.”

“We should never limit any future options that could improve electric service for Long Islanders,” he added. “Long Island should not be treated differently than the rest of the state.”

 

Thiele: Working on Early Voting in New York

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Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced he helped pass legislation that would strengthen the state’s electoral process by instituting early voting in all general, primary and special elections in New York.

“Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, and we have to find ways to get more people involved in the process,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Unfortunately, less than 46 percent of New York voters cast their vote on Election Day 2012. The Assembly’s legislation would provide voters with more opportunities to cast their ballots. Increasing voter participation is extremely important to me because it will make our democracy more representative.”

Under the bill, early voting would begin on the third Thursday prior to a general election and go right up until the Thursday before Election Day, providing voters with a two week time frame to cast ballots. In the case of a primary or special election, early voting would run from the second Thursday before regular voting until the Thursday prior to the actual election date, giving voters up to a week of early voting. Early voting polls would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each weekday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Local boards of elections would designate at least five early voting sites in each county. The local board of elections would automatically be designated as a polling place in each county. Boards of elections would also be allowed to staff early voting sites with appointed inspectors or their own employees. Early votes would be secured throughout the early voting period and the results would not be released prior to the close of polls on Election Day. In addition, the names of each early voter would be recorded to ensure that early voters are properly removed from Election Day poll books.

“This early voting reform would give disabled voters and those who work non-traditional hours more flexibility to cast their votes well ahead of

Election Day,” Thiele said, “it would also create shorter lines at the polls and give local boards of elections enough time to ensure that no one votes twice in the same election.”

If made law, New York would join 32 other states and the District of Columbia in permitting an alternative to in-person voting on Election Day, Thiele noted.

DEC Releases Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy

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Late last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft pollution prevention strategy for pesticide use on Long Island.

The proposed Pesticide Pollution Prevention (P2) Strategy proposed five actions to reduce threats to water resources from existing pesticide-related sources and prevent potential contamination from new sources.

According to the DEC, the purpose of the P2 Strategy is to enhance the protection of Long Island’s groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination and thus prevent potential adverse effects on human health while continuing to meet pest management needs of farms, residents and businesses.

The DEC developed the P2 Strategy in response to concerns over the detection of pesticides in the groundwater over time at various locations on Long Island.

The P2 Strategy would start with a DEC pesticide assessment including an evaluation of the chemicals’ location, frequency and concentration on Long Island, as well as their reported use, and prioritization for potential preventive measures and available alternatives.

The P2 Strategy also calls for convening a Technical Review and Advisory Committee (TRAC) by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders involved in pest management and water quality protection on Long Island — state and local health departments and other governmental agencies, agricultural, commercial and other sectors that use pesticides, pesticide businesses, environmental groups, and academia — to partner with the DEC in implementing pest management pollution prevention measures.

Under the proposed P2 Strategy, the DEC would work to integrate pollution prevention measures including best management practices, water quality protection and enhanced monitoring of groundwater into pest management efforts.

In a press release issued last week, New York State Assemblyman Thiele encouraged anyone concerned with the health of Long Island’s groundwater resources to attend an April 3 public meeting on the proposal. That will be held at the Suffolk County Community College eastern campus in Riverhead from 7 to 9 p.m. with officials from the DEC available for queries from 6 to 7 p.m.

Through April 30 comments can also be emailed toLongIslandStrategy@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by fax to 518-402-9024. Comments can also be mailed to Scott Menrath, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

“The East End of Long Island’s economy is dependent upon a healthy and productive environment,” said Thiele. “With Suffolk County being New York’s largest revenue-producing agricultural region, we need to ensure that our farms and vineyards can still produce economically sustainable crops yield. At the same time, we also need to preserve ground and surface water quality to help support our commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing industries. We need workable solutions for managing pesticide use that won’t harm our economy or environment.”

For more information, please visit DEC’s website at

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/87125.html.

New York State First to Adopt Sweeping Gun Control Regulations After Sandy Hook Tragedy

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By Amanda Wyatt

One month after the fatal shooting of 26 students and teachers at a Connecticut elementary school, New York State legislators — including Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle — moved swiftly this week to pass what are being called the toughest gun control laws in the country.

The New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, also known as the NY SAFE Act, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday following passage by the State Assembly, 104-43. The legislation had been passed by the State Senate, 43-18, on Monday evening, just hours after being introduced by the governor.

The NY SAFE Act represents the first state legislation addressing gun control following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. And according to Assemblyman Thiele, who voted in favor of the act, it is “a step in the right direction.”

While he knew it would be “difficult and controversial,” Thiele said on Wednesday that he believed the act “struck the right balance between the needs that we have to protect our children and families from gun violence, while still respecting the constitutional mandates of the second amendment.”

“I just see it as common sense, sane regulation of guns,” he added.

In a written statement, Senator LaValle explained several important provisions in the act.

“The New York Safe Act of 2013 closed several loopholes in New York State’s gun laws that have been on the books since 1994 that included a ban on assault weapons,” he said.

“The legislation, now law, maintains citizens’ rights to bear arms and gave the legislature an important opportunity to stiffen penalties for gun crimes — something the city-centric Assembly has resisted — addresses mental health issues, protects first responders and shields the identities of legal handgun owners from broad public disclosure,” LaValle pointed out.

“No one’s gun is being confiscated,” he added.

Specifically, the act tightens the ban on assault weapons, and reduces the minimum magazine capacity of guns from 10 to seven bullets. There will be universal background checks on all gun purchases, as well as instant background checks at ammunition purchases. And safe storage of guns will be required in any homes where a convicted felon or individual who has been involuntarily committed resides.

The NY SAFE Act also mandates the recertification of all handguns, and existing assault weapons must be grandfathered into a new statewide gun database. There will be increased penalties for having a firearm on school grounds and for crimes committed with illegal guns, as well.

“This legislation has some provisions in it to help local school districts improve school security, including an increase in building aid for modifications that school districts make to their district as far as security, and also allowing retired police officers to be hired without any loss of pension rights,” said Thiele.

The act has a strong focus on mental health, requiring healthcare providers to report potentially dangerous patients to the authorities so they can crosscheck whether these individuals are registered gun owners. It also expands Kendra’s Law, which forces certain individuals to receive psychiatric care.

But how this legislation will affect the East End — and Sag Harbor, in particular — remains to be seen. As Sag Harbor Police Chief Tom Fabiano noted, “it’s very, very rare” that the Sag Harbor Village Police Department encounters individuals with weapons.

Still, he said, “just because it’s a nice, quiet village doesn’t mean things couldn’t happen here. [Newtown is] a nice little area similar to Sag Harbor, they say.”

In fact, shortly after the Newtown shooting, the police received a couple of different phone calls regarding “suspicious people” around Sag Harbor schools — all of whom turned out to be parents and employees.

And while Fabiano did not think the NY SAFE Act was a “cure-all” for the malady of gun violence, he suggested that it was a good start.

“What they passed, is that going to work and make it all better? I think it’s going to take a very, very long time for things to start working, because there are so many weapons out there…And we’re just talking about New York State. If the whole country did something like this, maybe we’d have a better chance,” he said.

While the NY SAFE Act has its share of supporters, it has also ignited a firestorm of controversy from gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a press release, the NRA said that they were “outraged at the draconian gun control bill.”

Cuomo and New York state legislators “orchestrated a secretive end-run around the legislative and democratic process and passed sweeping anti-gun measures with no committee hearings and no public input,” they declared.

“These gun control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime,” continues the NRA’s statement. “Sadly, the New York Legislature gave no consideration to that reality. While lawmakers could have taken a step toward strengthening mental health reporting and focusing on criminals, they opted for trampling the rights of law-abiding gun owners in New York, and they did it under a veil of secrecy in the dark of night.”

And while Assemblyman Thiele’s office had received a flood of correspondence asking for more gun regulation immediately after the Newtown shooting, he said most of his mail in the past week to 10 days had been from pro-gun groups.

“You’re always balancing public welfare versus individual rights…It is a balancing test, and I think we’re kind of restating where that balance is,” he said.

State Denies Grant for Local Schools Looking into School District Consolidation

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Several East End schools suffered a blow last week when they learned they had not been awarded a competitive Local Government Efficiency Grant, which would have examined the possibility of consolidating and reorganizing local school districts.

Despite this setback, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle — who had written letters of support for the grant — are determined to move forward.

“Senator LaValle and I will find another way to fund this consolidation study,” said Thiele in an interview on Monday.

In a separate interview, LaValle echoed Thiele’s comments.

“I will keep at it,” he said. “I will pursue it. I will pursue some money, as I did, outside of the competitive grant process, to get the districts to talk about how they can share services or where there is interest in an out and out consolidation.”

Thiele said that he and LaValle would probably look into a legislative grant or “other forms of funding where the legislature has direct control over the funding, not funding that the Governor controls.”

The Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Southampton, Tuckahoe, Springs, Montauk and Hampton Bays school districts, as well Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), had originally filed for the grant back in March.

The grant is part of the New York Department of State’s (DOS) Local Government Efficiency Program, which seeks to help municipalities save money and operate more efficiently through consolidations, mergers, the sharing of services and other tactics.

According to a press release from the DOS, $4 million dollars had been allocated for grant monies, and municipalities could apply for up to $200,000 in funding.

The grants, said LaValle, were “competitively scored by the Department of State, based upon the quality of the applicants’ data and endeavor.”

“From what I was told, the [local schools’] grant did not score high,” said Thiele, noting that of the 21 groups that were awarded the grant, only three were school districts.

“Assemblyman Thiele and I cannot go beyond what we did, in terms of local officials supporting their grants, because it would be unethical to use — as people would say, ‘political muscle’ — to try and affect political grants,” LaValle added.

LaValle has been a strong proponent of consolidation of South Fork school districts throughout his tenure. He said in the past, local school districts had received millions of dollars in state aid, some of which they could have used to conduct things like efficiency grant studies.

“In the past, I had secured money and they never really went forward with any consolidation — or even any efficiencies — that they could bring about by sharing services,” he said.

However, LaValle noted the decision for school consolidation is entirely up to the community.

For example, if two school districts wanted to consolidate, both school boards would have to approve of it. Then, referendums would have to be passed in both communities.

By Amanda Wyatt

Currently, the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts have recently begun discussing the possibility of consolidating their school districts.

“It’s a local decision,” the senator said. “I try to take leadership in pushing people to either do consolidation, or at the very minimum, to share services.”

The Sag Harbor Board of Education (BOE) also remains interested in looking into consolidation and reorganization. President Theresa Samot said the BOE would probably discuss the grant at its next meeting, which was scheduled for Monday night, but was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. That meeting has yet to be rescheduled, said Samot.

“We thought [the grant] would certainly be a good first step to see what the opportunities were,” said President Theresa Samot. “The board is certainly in favor of exploring any opportunity that might be valuable to the taxpayers, as well as the students. It’s something that we’ve certainly looked into, wherever we could collaborate to save money.”