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This Week in New York State Government

Governor:

Governor Cuomo Announces $181 Million to Fund Projects Generating Economic Opportunity Throughout New York State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that more than $181 million in economic development funding has been approved for 24 projects that are spurring growth and opportunity in nine regions of the state. The funding, approved by Empire State Development’s Board of Directors, supports projects that are creating 1,524 new jobs and retaining 2,009 existing New York State jobs – many of which have already been created or retained. This funding will also leverage more than $5 billion in private assets and other public funding to support local businesses and projects that are building a strong foundation for future economic growth and job creation.

“This funding is part of this administration’s ongoing efforts to create new opportunities for companies and workers all across New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “By investing in these projects, we are jumpstarting local development priorities, attracting new businesses that create jobs, and helping to rebuild New York’s economy. “

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we are making targeted investments to support key projects and initiatives that are boosting local economies statewide,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Zemsky. “Whether it’s helping critical employers expand or remain in New York, encouraging regional tourism, aiding local communities through infrastructure improvements or supporting strategic industry growth, these projects are strengthening economies and communities from New York City to the North Country.”

To see the full list of projects approved for economic growth, please click here.

Governor Cuomo Announces 11 More Companies Join Start-Up NY, Creating Nearly 200 Jobs Over Next Five Years

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 11 more businesses plan to expand in or locate to New York State as a result of START-UP NY. The 11 businesses announced will invest approximately $4.4 million and have committed to create nearly 200 new jobs over the next five years in tax-free areas sponsored by SUNY Cobleskill, University at Buffalo, SUNY Downstate, Mount Saint Mary College and Ulster County Community College. These companies join the 110 companies already participating in the innovative program that creates tax-free areas associated with colleges and universities across the state.

Including the 11 companies just announced, START-UP NY now has commitments from 121 companies – sponsored by 24 different colleges and universities statewide – to create more than 3,340 new jobs and invest over $197 million in communities throughout the state.

The businesses expanding in or locating to the Empire State under START-UP NY will create jobs in several key industries, including physical engineering and life sciences; biotechnology (including research and development); graphic design services and software publishing; and advanced manufacturing.

Governor Cuomo Announces $11 Million for Over 1,000 Affordable Housing Units

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $11 million in grants to build, improve and preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. The 61 awards across the state’s 10 regions were given to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to help support community priorities, keep people in their homes and expand local opportunities for affordable housing.

Counties, cities, towns and villages, as well as not-for-profit organizations, applied to the New York State Homes and Community Renewal for funding, which was available for new homeownership and housing rehabilitation. Subsequently, homeowners can apply to their local municipality or not-for-profit organization where they will be screened for eligibility for the program based on income criteria.

The awards were made through four Homes and Community Renewal affordable housing programs: (1) the Affordable Homeownership Development Program administered by the agency’s Affordable Housing Corporation; (2) Access to Home; (3) Access to Home for High-Cost Medicaid Recipients Program, and (4) Residential Emergency Services to Offer Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE).

Governor Cuomo Announces 30 Additional Groups, Including ‘End Rape on Campus’, Join in Support of Enough is Enough Campaign

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 30 additional groups, including End Rape on Campus, have joined the Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual violence on college and university campuses. The advocacy groups, community organizations and unions joining the campaign add to a long list of supporters pushing for passage of the Governor’s bill to ensure that all colleges in the state implement uniform and comprehensive policies to prevent sexual violence and support victims when it does occur.

“We must do more to end the harsh reality of sexual assault on college campuses,” said Governor Cuomo. “These attacks should be treated as the crimes that they are – no matter whether they occur on public or private campuses – and that’s why the legislature must act. With only two weeks left in the legislative session, the time is now for the Senate and Assembly to pass our bill. New York’s college students have waited long enough.”

The Governor also hosted a screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a new documentary examining the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses across the nation. The film, directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering, highlights several accounts of campus sexual assault, told through the perspective of the victims. The documentary details the struggles, the retaliation and the harassment these victims face due to the mishandling of sexual assault on their campuses and the devastating toll these crimes take on the victims and their families.

A TV-Quality trailer and selected excerpts from the film are available for download here.

Governor Cuomo Announces $3 Million for P-Tech in Third Round of Public-Private Partnership Funding

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $3 million in funding for the third round expansion of the nationally-recognized Pathways in Technology Early College High School program, or P-TECH. The funding will be used to support an additional seven schools across the state, making New York the global leader in P-TECH student enrollment with a total of 33 schools. With this level of support, New York is further strengthening its talent base to remain economically competitive in the international technology sector for years to come.

P-TECH prepares students for highly-skilled jobs by bringing together public school districts, major employers, and institutions of higher education. High school students study under an industry-aligned curriculum, earn an associate degree at no cost to their families, and are first in line for jobs with participating companies upon graduation. The funding will be awarded to partnerships through a highly competitive process in regions across the state. This round of P-TECH schools are funded as part of the 2015-16 enacted Budget and a total $21 million in awards over a 7 year period. Up to seven awards will be granted across New York State with the goal to have established at least two P-TECH schools in each region. Applications are due by July 15, 2015 and can be found here.

P-TECH links education to regional economic development needs through industry partners and creates a pipeline to higher education for underrepresented populations through participating colleges and universities. Modeled after the nationally recognized IBM partnership in New York City, which is graduating its first class of students this year, the new programs will join a robust network of partnerships in ensuring that more students in NY have the skills needed for success in the 21st century.

Governor Cuomo Announces Multi-Media Campaign to Combat Impaired Driving in New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State will begin a statewide multi-media campaign using billboards, radio, television and social media to remind motorists about the deadly impacts of impaired driving. The campaign, funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, builds on the state’s ongoing efforts to combat impaired driving and reduce the number of traffic fatalities.

Preliminary data shows that New York State recorded 1,037 traffic fatalities in 2014, which was the lowest number of traffic fatalities since the state began keeping records in 1925. In 2013, 1,199 individuals died in motor vehicle crashes.

Seventy-eight campaign billboards with a message that reads ‘Impaired Drivers Take Lives. Think’ will now appear across the state. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) also produced a 30-second public service announcement as part of the campaign. The announcement features a State Trooper who informs a spouse at her daughter’s birthday party that her husband was killed by a drunk driver. At the end of the announcement, the daughter, now grown and at a cemetery, says ‘that was the day a drunk driver killed my dad. This is how I celebrate my birthday now. Impaired drivers take lives. Think.’

The public service announcement will soon air on cable and network television and radio stations statewide and will be supported by GTSC, DMV and other state agencies through their social media channels.

Governor Cuomo Releases Report Detailing Property Tax Cap Success in New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released a report (available here) detailing the success of the property tax cap in delivering tax relief for New York families and businesses. In addition, the Governor traveled to Nyack, New York in Rockland County to urge the State Legislature to extend the two percent property tax cap this legislative session.

“The tax cap has succeeded in taming out-of-control property tax increases throughout this state and it must be extended to ensure property taxpayers continue to be protected from the crushing burden of skyrocketing tax increases,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge the Legislature to act this session to keep the cap and continue the progress we have made to deliver tax relief to all New Yorkers.”

The property tax cap is one in a series of tax relief initiatives pursued by Governor Cuomo over the last several years in an effort to change New York’s “tax capital” mentality and provide much needed relief to businesses and homeowners. As a result of the Governor’s initiatives, middle class tax rates are at their lowest since 1953, the corporate tax rate is at its lowest since 1968, and the manufacturing tax rate is at its lowest since 1917.

Governor Cuomo Announces Groundbreaking of $3.8 Million Thacher Park Center

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the groundbreaking of Thacher Park Center, a $3.8 million project that will provide a much-needed anchor for visitors who want to explore the 2,500-acre park on Albany County’s Helderberg Escarpment. The center is a signature project in the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan to revitalize and transform the state park system.

The center, to be set next to the trailhead and picnic area for the popular Indian Ladder Trail, will introduce visitors to new park features, including an expanded trail network, as well as new opportunities for biking, rock climbing, caving, environmental education and an new high-ropes adventure course. The activities are part of the plan announced by the Governor to reinvigorate the park.

The 8,240-square-foot Thacher Park Visitor Center will include:

  • a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park’s expansive trail network and other features;
  • a grand lobby and exhibit area to highlight the park’s fossil-rich geological history;
  • a 1,340-square-foot multipurpose gathering space that can be reserved for special events such as weddings and family reunions;
  • public restrooms and park offices; and
  • an outdoor patio overlooking the escarpment where visitors can take in the park’s dramatic views.

Governor Cuomo Announces AmerisourceBergen to Open New Distribution Center in Newburgh and Create 121 Jobs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services companies, will invest $39.3 million to build a state-of-the-art distribution center in Newburgh and create 121 new jobs.

AmerisourceBergen, a global healthcare solutions leader, employs more than 16,000 people in more than 150 offices around the world. The Newburgh facility joins AmerisourceBergen’s 26 other distribution centers and four specialty distribution centers in the United States.

Empire State Development provided AmerisourceBergen with up to $1 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credits, and AmerisourceBergen agreed to hire 121 new employees in the next two years and maintain those staffing levels through at least 2025. The company will be required to annually submit evidence that it satisfied all the applicable requirements.

Governor Cuomo Announces $3.3 Million in Grants to Help Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $3.3 million for re-entry task forces in 19 counties that coordinate and manage services for formerly incarcerated individuals to successfully transition back to their communities.

The task forces are designed to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety by supporting community-based programs. Included is funding to hire a coordinator for each task force, in addition to services for formerly incarcerated individuals that otherwise would not be available.

To receive the funding, each task force was required to detail a plan for delivering targeted, evidence-based programs and services to individuals. This included mandatory cognitive behavioral intervention, which is designed to address risk factors for recidivism and change behavior. Services also include substance abuse and mental health treatment, job training, placement and skill development.

Comptroller:

Comptroller DiNapoli: Do we Have your Money? Nearly $200 Million Returned to New York State Residents this Year

Staff from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office will attend community events around the state this month to help residents search for lost and forgotten money, also known as unclaimed funds. DiNapoli oversees 31 million unclaimed funds accounts until the money can be returned to its rightful owners.

Unclaimed funds is more than $13 billion in lost and forgotten money dating back to the 1940s. The money comes from old bank accounts, utility deposits, uncashed checks, insurance claims, stocks and other sources that have been dormant for a number of years. View a map of unclaimed funds owed to New Yorkers by county and region. Learn more about Unclaimed Funds.

Comptroller DiNapoli: Wallkill Fire District Board Chair Charged with Stealing $240,000

The chairman of the Wallkill Fire District’s Board of Fire Commissioners was charged this morning with stealing nearly $240,000 in a scam that spanned three years, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright announced. Michael Denardo, 38, of Wallkill, is accused of conning a board member into signing blank checks which he later cashed for personal use. He was arraigned this morning in Shawangunk Town Court.

Denardo’s blank-check scheme began shortly after the Wallkill Fire District hired an architect to draft plans for a firehouse expansion. Denardo obtained blank, co-signed checks from a fellow board member for what he claimed were architect payments, then pocketed $228,871. When asked for proof, Denardo created fake bills. He also forged a travel agent invoice to inflate reimbursement for a trip to New Orleans and submitted $3,325 for other phony expenses.

The thefts began as early as 2010 and continued through 2013, according to the joint investigation. Denardo laundered the checks through his wife’s account, then pocketed the money.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced his office completed the following audits:

Hamlin Fire Department – Controls Over Financial Operations (Monroe County)
The department treasurer makes all deposits, disburses cash without the board’s prior approval and performs all recordkeeping functions without adequate oversight. Although the board reviews most of the department’s bills, they typically do so after the payments have already been made, and their approval is not documented in the minutes. The board did not conduct an annual audit of the treasurer’s records.

Islip Terrace Fire District – Claims Audit and Payroll (Suffolk County)
The entire board did not authorize payment of claims by resolution, but instead allowed claims to be paid before its meetings after approval by any three commissioners. The board needs to improve controls over payroll to ensure that pay rates are properly authorized and time and attendance is properly recorded.

Town of Minden – Budgeting (Montgomery County)
The town improperly allocated portions of its sales tax revenue to the town-wide general fund without first eliminating the tax levies in the part-town funds (those that exclude the village), contrary to statutory requirements. The town consistently adopted budgets with unrealistic estimates of revenues and expenditures in the part-town highway fund.

Village of Owego – Clerk-Treasurer’s Office and Parking Tickets (Tioga County)
The clerk-treasurer’s cash and fund balance records were inaccurate and unreliable. The justices and the board did not ensure that parking tickets were collected, recorded and deposited in an accurate manner, and unpaid tickets remained outstanding for an average of 181 days.

Attorney General:

Attorney General Schneiderman Sues Company for Allegedly Duping Prospective Nursing Students Across NYS Into Buying Expensive, Ineffective Study Guides and Academic Assistance

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that his office has filed a lawsuit in Albany County Supreme Court and has obtained a temporary restraining order against The College Network and its owner, Gary Eyler. The suit charges that the company and Eyler induced prospective nursing students to pay thousands of dollars for ineffective study guides through false and deceptive business practices. The suit alleges that The College Network, headquartered in Indiana, preyed on as many as 2,000 New York consumers who sought to obtain associate degrees in nursing. The papers charge that, through advertising and high pressure sales tactics, The College Network created the false impression that it was offering online nursing degrees and that it was affiliated with Excelsior College, an accredited institution based in Albany that offers such degrees.

According to court papers, The College Network targeted licensed practical nurses and paramedics with online ads that created the false impression that The College Network was affiliated with Excelsior College and offered associate degrees in nursing that consumers could earn “in just 18 months.” After consumers responded to the online advertisements, The College Network dispatched sales representatives, referred to as “program advisors,” to consumers’ homes. The advisors reinforced the false impression that The College Network was affiliated with Excelsior College and engaged in high-pressure sales pitches to induce consumers to sign up for The College Network’s “program.” However, the program consisted of little more than a series of study guides that many consumers found difficult to understand and that, contrary to the company’s representations, did not prepare them for the required exams they needed pass in order to get course credit.

The papers include affidavits from three dozen consumers from Buffalo, the Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse, among other places, who state that they were duped by the company.

Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Sentencing of Former City of Rensselaer Department of Public Works Commissioner on Felony Charges for Stealing Scrap Metal Proceeds

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the sentencing of Thomas Capuano, the former Commissioner of the Department of Public Works (DPW) of the City of Rensselaer, for his role in teaming with two DPW employees to divert $46,000 from the city by pocketing the cash from scrap metals acquired as part of their jobs with the city.

Mr. Capuano was sentenced to five years of probation by The Honorable Andrew Ceresia in Rensselaer County Court and must also repay one-third of the amount that was stolen. The other two thirds must be repaid by two co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced last month. Mr. Capuano’s sentencing follows his guilty plea to the charge of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a Class E felony). Mr. Capuano admitted his role in selling the scrap metal for his personal benefit between 2009 and 2013.

Thomas Capuano was the Commissioner of the Rensselaer Department of Public Works and the supervisor of two co-defendants, Ronald Foust and Jeffrey Clark. Surveillance videos from a local scrap yard showed Foust and Clark cashing in items discarded by city residents. Foust and Clark later implicated Capuano, their supervisor, in the scheme. Both Foust and Clark pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and were sentenced

Attorney General Schneiderman and Attorney General Zoeller Urge Food and Drug Administration to Overhaul Regulation of Dietary Supplement Industry

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller sent a letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging the agency to immediately enhance its oversight of the dietary supplement industry by reforming its Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) regulations.  The letter also calls on the FDA to revisit and strengthen its enforcement more broadly.

The letter outlines four major flaws in the FDA’s CGMPs:

Ingredient Suppliers: The CGMPs do not cover ingredient suppliers, which are often located overseas and beyond the reach of effective enforcement actions. Since manufacturers typically receive ingredients from suppliers as unrecognizable vats of powder, analytic testing at this stage cannot adequately detect frauds.

Testing of Label Claims: The CGMPS allow manufacturers to set their own label specifications and then choose their own tests for confirming label claims. The tests used by most manufacturers often cannot distinguish genuine products from chemically similar natural and synthetic compounds. Manufacturers largely judge for themselves whether to test for known substitutes and contaminants. The FDA acknowledges that a combination of testing methods is preferable, but the CGMPs expressly mandate the use of only one test—leaving the use of additional tests to the discretion of manufacturers.

Testing for Allergens: The CGMPs do not require manufacturers to engage in any confirmatory testing to ensure that supplements are free of common allergens, even where products are marketed as containing no allergens (e.g. “Gluten-Free”).

Labeling Ambiguity: The CGMPs fail to define key terms commonly used by manufacturers on labeling of dietary supplements. These terms are poorly understood and manufacturers use them in ambiguous and conflicting ways. For example, with herbal supplements, the industry applies the term “extract” to a spectrum of products—from minimally processed plants to highly purified chemicals. When consumers buy a “natural” product—which typically features a root, a leaf, a flower, or a piece of bark on the label—they do not reasonably expect to receive a heavily processed chemical. Yet, more often than not, this is what they get.

You can view the full letter here.

Attorney General Schneiderman Announces $1.2 Million Settlement with Manhattan Developer that Pays Restitution to Tenants and NYC for Rent-Stabilized Apartments Lost in Condo Conversion

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with 101 West 78th, LLC, Newcastle Realty Services, LLC, and Margaret Streicker Porres, that requires the developer to pay $1.2 million to New York City to compensate for the loss of five rent-stabilized apartments in an Upper West Side building, some of which were effectively deregulated through prohibited buyout agreements. The deal provides two years of rent payments to tenants who have remained in the building. The settlement, which ends an Attorney General Martin Act public investigation, further ensures that tenants at 101 West 78th Street will not be forced out by a planned condo conversion process, and instead receive benefits afforded them by law.

“This settlement puts condominium developers on notice that the rights of tenants will – and must – be protected,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.  “As housing prices rise across New York, more and more properties are being converted from modest residential rentals to luxury condominiums.  My office will continue to hold real estate developers accountable if they disregard the law in search of profits.”

The Martin Act, New York’s blue sky law, protects apartment purchasers and tenants in buildings that are converted to coops or condominiums. Tenants get an exclusive right to buy their units and, in most cases, cannot be evicted purely because the building is being converted. To make sure that tenants have full information about their decision to continue to rent or to purchase, the law requires that developers disclose to tenants the proposed conversion plan, prior to its being accepted by the Attorney General.

Speaker:

Assembly Approves Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried announced the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to protect transgender New Yorkers from being discriminated against in many areas of everyday life including employment, education, consumer credit, public accommodation and housing (A.4558-A, Gottfried).

“Various New York cities and counties have already acknowledged the importance of equal rights for all people and passed transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation,” said Speaker Heastie. “It is time that we make this statewide legislation so that all New Yorkers can live their lives and be true to themselves without fear of being targeted or discriminated against.”

“This is a long overdue protection of human rights,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill, noting that the Assembly has passed the measure eight years in a row. “Every year my colleagues and I speak for transgender human rights and equal protection under the law, and every year, opponents spin imaginary horror stories, none of which have anything to do with this bill. Local GENDA laws have been on the books in large parts of the state for years, without any problems. It’s time to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair housing, employment, use of public accommodations, and protection against hate crimes.”

The GENDA legislation, which the Assembly has passed annually since 2008, would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The measure also expands the state’s hate crime protections to explicitly include crimes against people due to their gender identity or expression.

Assembly Passes Legislation Banning Racial Profiling

The New York State Assembly announced the passage of legislation prohibiting law enforcement officers from engaging in racial or ethnic profiling (A3949, Wright). The legislation would also create a private right of action against law enforcement agencies for individuals who have been the subject of racial profiling, allowing courts to award damages, costs and reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff.

“The current tension between law enforcement agencies and minority communities makes the passage of this legislation both necessary and timely,” said Speaker Heastie. “I think we can all agree that racial profiling is wrong and infringes on the constitutional rights of minorities. However, New York law does not specifically prohibit racial profiling and there is no requirement to track statistics so we can better understand policing techniques and identify the extent of the problem. It is past time that we enact an outright prohibition on racial profiling and work towards fostering a more collaborative relationship between minority communities and law enforcement officers to ensure that all New Yorkers have the same rights and protections.”

The bill would require every New York law enforcement agency to adopt procedures for reviewing complaints of racial or ethnic profiling and for taking corrective measures to prevent future incidents. It would also require law enforcement agencies to collect and maintain data on traffic stops, pat downs and searches which would be compiled in an annual report by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The collected data would likewise be included in a statewide public database to promote transparency and integrity, as well as to inform both law enforcement and the community.

Senate:

Senate Heroin Task Force Chairs Announce Action to be Taken on Bills to Fight New York’s Heroin Crisis

The New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction co-chairs announced that the Senate will soon be acting on its first flight of bills to help decrease heroin deaths and put more drug dealers behind bars for peddling dangerous opioids. Senator George A. Amedore, Jr. (R-C-I, Rotterdam), Senator Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown), and Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda) said that the Senate is expected to take up the bills next week, before the end of the legislative session.

Over the past several weeks, the Task Force has held forums in Yorktown, Rochester, Lewiston, and Albany to examine the issues created by increased heroin abuse that is causing hundreds of deaths in communities across the state. Additional forums will be planned for more New York communities in the fall. The Task Force will then issue a report with recommendations for further legislative action to address concerns raised by law enforcement, health and mental health experts, victims’ advocates, and other stakeholders who participated in the forums.

The preliminary package of eight bills to be acted on next week builds on the Senate legislation successfully enacted last year as a result of the Task Force’s efforts. In addition, the 2015-16 state budget provided significant funding for programs targeting the heroin crisis, including: $7.8 million in funding for statewide prevention, treatment and recovery services, $450,000 to purchase narcan kits given out for free to individuals who participate in a narcan training class, and $140,000 to finance the cost of narcan kits for staff and nurses authorized to administer narcan in the event of a heroin or opioid overdose at school.

To see next weeks legislative package, please click here.

Senate Holds Annual Animal Advocacy Day Event and Passes Legislation to Protect Animals

The New York State Senate passed legislation to further protect animals and people from harm and cruelty as part of the Legislature’s annual Animal Advocacy Day. The event brings together lawmakers, law enforcement, and hundreds of pet owners and advocates to raise awareness of important animal issues.

The list of legislation can be seen here.

Senate Passes Measure to Fight Medicaid Fraud

The New York State Senate passed legislation (S3019), sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R-C-I, Olean), that would create a financial incentive for counties to further investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud. By encouraging localities and rewarding successful Medicaid fraud prosecution efforts, this measure would help eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse.

Earlier this year nine New York doctors were indicted in Brooklyn for allegedly defrauding Medicaid –  a massive $7 million health-care-fraud scheme which took advantage of thousands of homeless people by luring them into offices for unnecessary medical testing in exchange for free sneakers. Under current law, a cap limits the amount that local governments can receive after a successful Medicaid fraud prosecution. This bill would ensure that local governments would recoup 100 percent of the local share upon the successful judgment or settlement of Medicaid fraud, or 10 percent of the total recovery, whichever is greater.

By encouraging more Medicaid fraud prosecutions, the total costs of the system would be reduced and benefit both the state and local governments. The state would be the biggest beneficiary of the reduction in the amount of fraud and abuse because it pays a substantially higher share of Medicaid costs than local governments.

Senate Passes Bills to Improve Information Available About Sexual Predator

The New York State Senate passed a package of bills to provide increased monitoring of convicted sex offenders and improve access to important information to better notify employers, schools, and concerned members of the community.

A bill (S4765) sponsored by Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport) would make it a felony for a sex offender to fail to appear at the hearing which will determine his or her risk level. The bill also would eliminate a defense currently available to a sex offender who fails to annually verify their address with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Currently if the sex offender has not changed his or her address, and does not annually verify that address, it is not a violation of the Sex Offender Registration Act. This bill makes that failure to annually verify a class E felony.

Another bill (S4776) passed and sponsored by Senator Funke would expand the information available on the DCJS sex offender registry’s website. Currently, the Sex Offender Registration Act does not require all information about sex offenders to be accessible on the state Registry’s website. A person must call the 800 number operated by the Division to learn of low-risk offenders in the community.

A bill (S4511) sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island) would help law enforcement and the community keep tabs on lower-level sex offenders. Currently, sex offenders must register with law enforcement by mail on a yearly basis, but Level 3 offenders must also appear in person at the law enforcement agency each year and provide a current photograph. Level 2 offenders, however, must only appear in person and submit such a photograph every three years. Requiring Level 2 sex offenders to appear in person would help law enforcement confirm that the offender is located at the address previously given and that their appearance has not significantly changed.

Legislation (S3622) sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda) would allow law enforcement to disseminate information about a Level 2 sex offender’s employment address to vulnerable populations. Currently, Level 2 offenders’ employment addresses are included in the online Sex Offender Registry, but law enforcement is only allowed to notify schools and other vulnerable populations of the offender’s residence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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