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This Week in New York State Government

Governor:

Governor Cuomo Launches New Effort to Boost Solar Implementation in Communities Across New York State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of Community Solar NY, a new effort under the NY-Sun initiative to make implementing solar easier and more affordable for communities across the state. The program launched today supports community projects known as “Solarize” campaigns – locally-organized community outreach efforts aimed at getting a critical mass of area homes and businesses to install solar.

Solarize campaigns bring together widespread community outreach and education, competitive installer selection, and a limited-time offer to bring more customers to solar and provide significant cost savings. Community Solar NY will support these campaigns by providing marketing materials, technical assistance and funding; and by sharing best practices to help community projects succeed.

Communities across New York State already have had success with early Solarize efforts. Community Solar NY seeks to encourage many more communities to follow their lead. Descriptions of existing Solarize projects can be found here.

Community Solar NY also includes K-Solar, a joint partnership between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and NYSERDA, working with the New York State Education Department to help schools lower their energy costs by going solar. NYPA is offering every New York State school district free energy advisory services and in collaboration with school personnel will determine if solar energy is suitable and cost-effective for their district and to help secure the most attractive solar financing. As of the end of November, 194 school districts, representing more than 800 schools in 51 counties, have signed up to participate in K-Solar.

Applications and additional information on Community Solar NY are available on the NYSERDA web site at www.ny-sun.ny.gov/community-solar.

NY-Sun is a $1 billion initiative of Governor Cuomo’s to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. With this initiative, New York’s role as a leader and first mover in shaping the future of energy remains firmly in place. By developing innovative market solutions, the State is delivering on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to transform the energy industry into a more resilient, clean, cost-effective and dynamic system. Working with State, citizen and industry stakeholders, New York’s energy policy is moving to a more market-based, decentralized approach. This means preserving the environment, decreasing energy costs, and creating opportunities for economic growth for current and future generations of New Yorkers. In advancing these new energy systems and solutions, New Yorkers will have improved energy affordability and efficiency without sacrificing the ability to live in a cleaner, resilient and more sustainable environment.

Governor Cuomo Announces Highlights from the 2014 Farm to Table Upstate-Downstate Agriculture Summit

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo highlighted results from the first-ever Farm to Table Upstate-Downstate Agriculture Summit, which was introduced in the Governor’s 2014 State of the State address. The purpose of the Summit was to explore ways of increasing access to fresh food for underserved populations and growing New York City markets’ access to upstate agricultural producers as a means of boosting in-state production and consumption. Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy presided over the first-of-its-kind summit, which took place in New York City.

Governor Cuomo Announces Appointment of Maggie Miller as the Information Technology Services Chief Information Officer

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he has appointed Maggie Miller Chief Information Officer of the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, where Miller will oversee the agency’s centralized IT services to the State and government entities; set statewide technology policy for all state government agencies; and monitor all large technology expenditures in the state to find more efficient, low cost and innovative solutions. Miller is the former Chief Information Officer of Girl Scouts USA and an expert in IT strategy, innovation, business transformation, multi-channel strategies, M&A evaluation and integration, business intelligence and analytics, and outsourcing.

Governor Cuomo Announces New Regulations Against Abusive and Deceptive Debt Collection Practices

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced new, nation-leading reforms that will protect consumers against abusive and deceptive debt collection practices. These new, finalized state Department of Financial Services regulations will provide consumers with important disclosures to help combat aggressive and deceptive practices that take advantage of confusion or fear, help stop attempts to sue to collect “zombie debts,” establish a new debt “substantiation” requirement so that consumers can request information to avoid paying what they do not owe, and address other widespread abuses in the debt collection industry.

In 2014 alone, New York consumers have filed more than 20,000 complaints regarding debt collection practices. They report that debt collectors make harassing, aggressive calls to collect debts and sometimes attempt to collect an incorrect amount of money and even contact the incorrect person. Problems are especially frequent in the rapidly growing debt buying industry, where companies purchase defaulted debts for pennies on the dollar. To keep costs down, debt buyers often maintain shoddy records and do little to verify that they are contacting the correct debtor or for the correct amount of money. In addition, the same debt portfolios may be sold to multiple buyers, and without clear records, even consumers who have paid off a debt may be pursued for the same debt by a different collector.

Visit here to learn more about the new regulations being implemented in 2015 and what to do if a debt collector is engaging in improper or abusive collection tactics.

Governor Cuomo Announces Next Phase of Plan to Modernize and Revitalize LaGuardia, JFK, Republic and Stewart Airports

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the next phase of the State’s comprehensive plan to modernize and revitalize LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International, Republic and Stewart International Airports. Applications are now available for plans to completely redesign LaGuardia and JFK airports, and a Request for Information has been issued to identify a new operator for Republic Airport. Additionally, the State is expanding the freight capacity at Stewart International in order to establish the airport as a regional cargo hub.

LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will host international design competitions to generate a vision on how to transform and modernize the New York Airports for the 21st Century. These competitions invite aviation experts, architects, designers, planners and others to submit visionary Master Plans for LaGuardia and/or John F. Kennedy International Airports that create 21st Century, state-of-the-art airports. The Master Plans should be bold and comprehensive, completely re-envisioning the passenger experience beyond 2050 including how passengers and their baggage get to, from and around the airports, while providing world-class customer service facilities and amenities. An Advisory Panel, selected by the Governor, will make recommendations to the Port Authority Board of Commissioners with respect to the Master Plan submissions. More information on these competitions is available here.

Both the LaGuardia and JFK Master Plan Design Competitions will commence on December 2, 2014, with final submissions due January 30, 2015. The Port Authority requests that contestants provide a Letter of Intent to register as a contestant by December 15, 2014. Initial Draft Submissions, including images of the airport as proposed to be modernized, are due on December 31, 2014. If a contestant does not provide an Initial Draft Submission by the December 31 deadline, their proposal will not be considered.

Following the Final Submission date of January 30, three finalists will be identified to make public presentations and compete for the Design Prize in the Master Plan Competition. The three selected plans will present their final submissions to the Governor and the Port Authority after finalists have been announced. Each of these finalists will receive up to $500,000 to further develop their plan for final consideration.

Governor Cuomo Announces First State-Certified Disabled Veterans Businesses

Governor Cuomo announced the first round of businesses certified as New York State Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. The 21 newly-certified businesses cover a range of goods and services including construction services, financial services and a variety of commodities. The designation, created by the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, makes each business eligible to participate in contracting opportunities with the State.

The businesses are certified by the Office of General Services Division of Service Disabled Veterans’ Business Development, which is led by two veterans with extensive business experience. Since applications were made available in early October, the Division has implemented an aggressive outreach and marketing strategy to further encourage applications. A list of the 21 newly-certified businesses can be viewed here.

Governor Cuomo Announces Significant Progress Towards Developing Blueprint to End HIV/AIDS Epidemic by 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, World AIDS Day, announced that the statewide Ending the Epidemic Task Force he created earlier this year has made significant progress toward developing a blueprint to implement his three-point plan aimed at decreasing new cases of HIV to 750 per year by 2020. Made up of a diverse group of experts representing HIV/AIDS communities across New York State, the Task Force held its first meeting on October 14th and has since convened 14 listening forums that attracted over 400 participants and generated 294 recommendations. It is expected to finalize its work in January 2015 by which time it will have created a template for how to put the Governor’s three-point plant to end the epidemic into operation.

To date, more than 200,000 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with AIDS and more than 132,000 individuals in the State are living with HIV/AIDS.

Governor Cuomo’s three-point plant, for which he was recognized by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, includes:

  1. Identifying all persons with HIV in the State who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
  2. Linking and retaining persons diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize the virus’s suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission; and
  3. Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk individuals to keep them HIV negative.

In observance of World AIDS Day this year, the New York State Department of Health will honor individuals from across the State for their commitment to reducing new HIV infections and contributing to the State’s plan to eradicate the AIDS epidemic here by 2020. To show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, New Yorkers of all ages are invited to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany on December 1st from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and December 2nd from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Attorney General:

Attorney General Schneiderman Sues NYC Landlord For Widespread Violations Of State Oil Spill Prevention Laws

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit against New York City landlord Florence Edelstein for widespread violations of state oil spill prevention laws that govern the safe handling and storage of heating oil at residential properties. The Attorney General’s suit seeks to enforce a July order by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that found Edelstein liable for 90 violations of state laws at 25 properties, three in the Bronx and the others located in Upper Manhattan and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. According to the complaint, Edelstein failed to correct the violations or pay a $113,500 penalty, as ordered by the DEC.

Attorney General Schneiderman Sues NYC Landlord For Widespread Violations Of State Oil Spill Prevention Laws

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit against New York City landlord Florence Edelstein for widespread violations of state oil spill prevention laws that govern the safe handling and storage of heating oil at residential properties. The Attorney General’s suit seeks to enforce a July order by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that found Edelstein liable for 90 violations of state laws at 25 properties, three in the Bronx and the others located in Upper Manhattan and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. According to the complaint, Edelstein failed to correct the violations or pay a $113,500 penalty, as ordered by the DEC.

Attorney General Schneiderman Releases New Guidance To Law Enforcement Agencies On Termination Of Secure Communities Program

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies around the state regarding the recent termination of the Secure Communities program.  Under the Secure Communities program, United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued detainer requests which asked that local law enforcement agencies hold an individual in custody beyond the normal release date, while ICE decided whether to take custody of the individual and commence immigration proceedings. This program had come under increasing scrutiny since its launch in 2008.

Attorney General Schneiderman Launches New Web-based App To Help New York Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced his office’s new consumer education initiative, which features a web-based app, AGScamHelp. The app will help homeowners determine whether a company has been vetted by a government agency and will urge homeowners at risk of foreclosure to work with a qualified agency within the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), a network of more than 85 housing counseling and legal service providers who offer services to struggling homeowners at no cost. As part of this new initiative, the Attorney General’s Office will also send monthly mailings with tips on avoiding foreclosure scams to New York homeowners who are within 90 days of a potential foreclosure filing.