E-Mail Newsletter – May 6, 2014

For some families, college has become unaffordable and a huge financial burden for others.

A new piece of legislation, Tuition-Free NY, would provide an incredible opportunity for students where a college education could be just out of reach. Considering the May 1st National College Decision Day, I was pleased to join my colleagues in sponsoring this innovative piece of legislation.

The bill (A.8585) would provide for tuition at all two-year and four-year SUNY and CUNY institutions to be free for qualifying students who also provide community service and agree to remain in New York State for at least five years after graduation. SUNY and CUNY institutional fees, as well as room and board, would not be covered by Tuition-Free NY.

Colleges and universities in New York State provide a substantial economic impact to local communities. For example, the University at Albany estimates its economic impact to New York’s Capital Region is over $1 billion. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government also notes that for each dollar in state support SUNY receives, it returns at least $5 in economic activity. With Tuition-Free NY, tuition funds that would have gone to financial institutions that offer student loan financing would go back into the state’s overall economy.

Guilderland receives funding to support heroin addiction recovery efforts. I joined Attorney General Schneiderman and Albany County officials in commending that the Guilderland Police Department as the first department in the state to receive award funding through the Community Overdose Prevention (COP) Program, which provides funds to equip and train officers with Naloxone kits, which is used as a heroin antidote.

The increasing use of illegal substances such as heroin is nothing short of alarming. With the Attorney General's leadership on this issue, police departments such as Guilderland's are now better prepared to combat heroin use through COP funding.

Livingston Avenue Bridge walkway. In April, I indicated my formal support (in a letter to the NYS Department of Transportation) to include a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly pathway in renovations of the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge. The bridge presents an immense opportunity to connect Albany and Rensselaer while revitalizing a historic link of transportation in our area.

State to reinvest in state park system. Governor Cuomo announced that the state will advance 69 projects to improve and repair 53 state parks and historic sites. The projects are part of a $90 million statewide commitment funded in the 2014-15 State Budget, marking the third year of the New York Works initiative to revitalize our state parks, which will help connect our residents to nature, support recreational and tourism opportunities and demonstrate responsible stewardship of the state’s park system.

Locally, John Boyd Thacher State Park will receive $3.8 million in funding that will go to constructing a new visitors center featuring new exhibits, multi-purpose gathering spaces, and orientation services.

Here are highlights from the 109th:

Public access television. Did you know Albany has a public access channel? ChannelAlbany broadcasts from Channel 18 (or 116.3), presenting content made from residents and organizations within the City of Albany. The studio is located in the basement of the Albany Public Library’s main branch and is open to the public. For more information, you can e-mail channelalbany@gmail.com or visit channelalbany.tv.

Events in and around the 109th:

+ Register for the New York State Citizen Preparedness Corps training. New York State is offering courses for residents to have the tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions. A course will be offered on Saturday, May 10 at the University at Albany’s uptown campus at 10 a.m.

+ Mark your calendars! Bike to Work Day is scheduled for Friday, May 16 (rain or shine) in anticipation of the 2015 opening of the Helderberg Hudson Bike Path from Delaware Avenue in Delmar to Albany. Join us at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (425 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar) at 8:30 a.m. as we celebrate National Bike to Work Day and support our region's exciting Helderberg Hudson Bike Path. The bike ride into Albany begins at 9:30 a.m.

+ Bethlehem Restaurant Week is from Monday, May 12 through Sunday, May 18. Enjoy a three-course meal for $20.14. Show your support for Bethlehem’s restaurants by dining out next week.

+ The City of Albany’s annual Tulip Festival is this weekend (May 10 and 11, 2014). This spring tradition, now 66 years in the making, continues when over 100,000 tulip bulbs blossom into a sea of colors just in time for this Mother's Day celebration in Washington Park. Historic events, including the scrubbing of State Street, the tradition of the Tulip Queen Coronation, Tulip Queen and Court Luncheon and Royal Tulip Ball, are all slated to take place this weekend. The event is free to the public.

Capital District Assembly Update: Tune in every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Channel 17 (for Time Warner Cable subscribers) for the next episode of Capital District Assembly Update, co-hosted by Assemblymember McDonald and me. You can also previous episodes and clips on my Assembly website.

As always, for the latest about my office’s happenings 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 ---