Legislative Update
from the

NYS Assembly Commission on

Sheldon Silver, Speaker · Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair · December 2002

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Message from the Chair

Dear Friends,

As you may know, I am completing my first term as Chair of the Legislative Commission on Government Administration. The Commissionís mandate is to examine how well the management systems of the state perform and how the state can be organized to provide the most effective service. Its broad mission calls for looking across the operations and systems of government rather than at discrete agencies.

In my first newsletter, I reported to you on the stateís disaster preparedness organization and how the state responds in case of an emergency such as the World Trade Center catastrophe. I would like to update you on what progress has been made in terms of securing necessary resources for the city and state, bringing relief to the victims and the rescuers as well as appropriately marking this day. I also want to bring to your attention some other important legislation passed by the Assembly during this past session.

Unfortunately, the events of September 11th have also had an impact on the stateís economy. As we consider the state budget in the upcoming session, it will be increasingly important to identify areas where the state can act more efficiently and effectively. I encourage you to send any ideas or comments on ways to improve state government to my office.

This update represents the Commissionís continuing effort to enhance the publicís awareness of critical issues facing the state.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chair, New York State Assembly
Commission on Government Administration

About the Commission on Government Administration

The Legislative Commission on Government Administration was created by Chapter 50 of the Laws of 1979 as the Legislative Commission on Economy and Efficiency in Government. Its name was changed to the Legislative Commission on Public Management Systems in 1986 to capture the evolved focus of the Commissionís work. In 1994, the Commission was established in Legislative Law and its current name assigned.

Today the Commission is charged with examining "specific methods for increasing economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability in state government. Organization, management, administration, operations, technologies, procedures, and practices in the public sector will be considered by the Commission for the purpose of examining the feasibility of and making legislative recommendations for: (a) improving administration and operations in state government; (b) increasing efficiency, economy and effectiveness by measures of consolidation and reorganization; and (c) improving the delivery of services and enhancing accountability by organizational changes."

Over the years the Commission has contributed to many improvements in administration and operations of New York state government. The most significant accomplishments are in the areas of financial management, financial controls, procurement, information resources, budget reform, and capital planning and budgeting.

Assembly Chamber

An Update on World Trade Center Disaster and Emergency Preparedness

World Trade Center Recovery Funding from the Federal Government

In the Supplemental Appropriations bill congressional leaders approved, New York would receive an additional $5.5 billion in federal funding for lower Manhattan rebuilding efforts. This latest round of federal funding brings total WTC-recovery spending to well over $21 billion. The bill will provide funding for the following:

  • $2.66 billion for FEMA emergency response and debris removal;
  • $1.8 billion towards building a new transit hub that would connect the PATH trains with all subway lines running through lower Manhattan;
  • $750 million for utility reconstruction through Community Development Block Grants to help restore the destroyed energy and telecommunications infrastructure in lower Manhattan;
  • $167 million to help repair roads and highways in lower Manhattan through the Federal Highway Administration; and
  • $90 million for baseline screenings and long term health monitoring for people working at Ground Zero after 9/11, including $25 million for current and retired firefighters.

(Source: Senator Charles Schumer)

Significant Legislation Related to September 11th Passed by the Assembly

September 11 Remembrance Day This bill would allow for an annual day of remembrance and recognition for casualties of the World Trade Center attack and the heroes who came to their rescue by making September 11 a state holiday. (A.10348; Passed Assembly)

World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship Program This bill would establish the World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship Program. The bill would provide scholarships to children, spouses and financial dependents of innocent victims who have died or have been severely and permanently disabled as a direct result of 9/11. Under the bill, the scholarship award would be equal to the SUNY-CUNY tuition for state residents. (A.11812/S.7792; Chapter 176)

September 11th Victims and Families Relief Act This bill would help victims of the World Trade Center attacks and their families access financial assistance. The bill also calls for domestic partners of those killed in the attacks to be eligible for assistance. (A.11290/S.7356; Chapter 73)

Disaster Relief Volunteer Leave This bill would provide paid leave for public officers and employees of school districts who volunteer in disaster relief operations. (A.9557-A/S.6024-A; Chapter 505)

Emergency Cell Phone Service Effectiveness

The 2002-2003 state budget contained a $20 million Local Enhanced Wireless Program to increase public safety by improving the ability of emergency personnel to locate where a 911 cellular call originates. The new funding will expedite the roll out of an enhanced wireless 911 emergency system. This program ensures that some of the funds from the surcharge will be available to municipalities to facilitate the development of enhanced wireless services.

$20 million will be set aside from the existing cellular surcharge to create a local assistance program; $10 million will be recurring, and $10 million would be "one-time" funding.

Localities will receive a funding allocation based on a per capita distribution and will be able to receive grants or participate in a bonding program administered by the Dormitory Authority to reimburse eligible 911 expenses.

Fifteen percent of the funding in the first year will be available to finance prior year costs for counties currently providing wireless service.

Funding will be available to reimburse "eligible wireless 911 service costs" which include installation and maintenance of equipment, hardware and software designed to help identify the location and identity of wireless callers.

Board Composition And Powers
The program will be administered by a 13-member board, with applicants chosen from a pool including: municipal officials, ambulance, police and fire personnel and wireless service providers. Board members will develop standards governing the provision of wireless 911 service and function as an appeals board.

Counties and municipalities currently operating wireless public safety answering points will be eligible to receive funding. Counties which do not currently provide wireless service and subsequently decide to participate would have to file a service plan and comply with certain minimum standards prior to receiving funding.

Other Significant Legislation Passed by the Assembly Related to the Commissionís Mandate

Public Authority Oversight The bill would provide for increased public and governmental oversight into the operation of certain public authorities. This bill would mandate specific budget reports, restrict transfer functions and guarantee civil service status of employees. (A.10258-B; Passed Assembly/S.7259-A;Rules)

NYC School Governance Reform The law authorizes the mayor of New York City to have sole power to appoint the city school chancellor, who will head a 13-member board of education. The law allows the mayor to appoint seven members to the board. Under the bill, five additional members will be appointed by the borough presidents and must be parents with children in the city school system.

While the plan eliminates the cityís 32 community school boards, the parent representation on the board provides a process for gaining the input of parents and communities to ensure their involvement and participation in the development of a new governance system at the community level.

Because resources play such a vital role in education, a key provision of the law requires that the city may not reduce its contribution to the education budget from one year to the next, except if the city budget revenues decline. (A.11627/S.7456-B; Chapter 91)

Health-Care Organization Accountability This bill would hold health-care organizations accountable for any delay, failure or refusal to approve, provide, arrange or timely pay for certain health care services. The bill would ensure that health-care organizations are held accountable in the same way as health-care professionals have been held responsible for the consequences of their decisions. (A.8318; Passed Assembly/S.4013; Judiciary)

State Procurement Practices This bill requires the Department of Labor to establish a registry of apparel manufacturers and contractors that were adversely impacted by the September 11 World Trade Centers attacks. Under the bill, registry companies would be the preferred source to purchase apparel for all public entities, including agencies, departments, authorities, SUNY and CUNY. (A.11831-A/S.7791-A; Chapter 350)

Preserving Records In The Digital Age This bill will add a period of probable usefulness for the preservation of records in a digital format. (A.9844/S.6281; Chapter 368)

NYS Seal

Identity Theft This bill creates the crime of identity theft and establishes penalties for those who obtain another individualís personal information and use their identity to commit fraud or other unlawful acts. Under the bill, individuals who commit a new crime of identity theft would be eligible for up to seven years in prison for the most serious form of the crime. The measure also makes victims of identity theft who incur costs or losses due to adverse information being transmitted to a credit reporting agency eligible for restitution for financial losses. In addition, victims will be able to pursue damages in a civil action. (A.4939-E/S.7697-A; Chapter 619)

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chair, NYS Assembly Commission
on Government Administration
Room 639 LOB · Albany, NY 12248 · (518) 455-5965