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From the Desk of Senator Craig Johnson: June 19, 2009

Johnson Announces Passage of Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The New York State Senate unanimously passed a vitally important economic stimulus and community revitalization program: the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, Senator Craig Johnson announced.

The bill, (S2960-B), strengthens the state program first launched in 2006 and will make New York State more competitive against the nearly 30 other states with similar programs. The changes will allow the state to target reinvestment to distressed communities, as determined by the U.S. Census, and incorporate cost savings to the administration of the program.

Because of these changes, New York State will have among the most productive and cost-effective redevelopment programs in the country.

“This much needed economic development tool will help preserve historic structures in our villages and neighborhoods, as well as spur development in communities that are in need of an economic revitalization,” Senator Johnson said. “This important legislation will have a positive impact on Long Island and across New York State.”

Features of the Senate’s legislation include: (1) Increase the cap on commercial credit value from $100,000 to $5 million; the residential credit value will increase from $25,000 to $50,000. These are over the course of the program, which is 5 years. (2) Limit the availability of the residential and commercial credit of the program to “distressed” areas, which is defined as being located within a Census tract identified at or below one hundred percent of the median family income. (3) Increase the percent of qualified rehabilitation costs that can be claimed for the credit from 6 percent to 20 percent, allowing for a higher percentage of qualified rehabilitation costs. (4) Make the credit assignable, transferable and conveyable within business partnerships, to allow for greater flexibility on the part of the investor and attract out-of-state financing to in-state rehabilitation projects. (5) Offer the rehabilitation tax credit as a rebate to make the program a stronger financial incentive for homeowners without significant income tax liability.

“A Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit will provide an incentive to maintain and renovate infrastructure throughout our state and help protect valuable historic structures,” Senator Brian Foley said. “This measure is part of larger efforts by the Senate to boost economic development and stimulate New York State’s economy.”

The bill is expected to pass the Assembly. Senators are working with the governor to ensure that, based on the program’s ability to attract new investment, business and jobs to the state at a time when our economy is struggling, it is signed into law.

Senator Reminds Residents to Observe Bike Safety Laws

For many, the warmer weather and the beginning of summer break also means the start of bicycle riding season. When riding, it’s always important to remember and observe the following laws and guidelines that will help keep you, and others, safe.

Drive close to the right side of the road, in single file, and pass parked cars with care. Give the right-of-way to pedestrians. Walk your bicycle across busy intersections. Sit on the bicycle seat when riding and never carry extra passengers - no trick riding! All bicycles must be properly equipped with front-white and rear-red reflectors, adequate brakes, and a bell or horn.

Never hitch rides on vehicles. Never carry anything that will prevent you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. Drive on bicycle paths wherever they are provided. Maintain your bicycle.

Serious head injuries pose the greatest danger to bicyclists: helmets significantly reduce this risk. Every bicyclist, regardless of age, should wear an approved helmet. All riders under the age of 14 are required by New York State law to wear a properly fitting, bicycle helmet. However, a helmet is a good idea for all cyclists.

Remember, cyclists who violate the law are subject to traffic tickets – and a parent can be held responsible for violations committed by their minor children.

And lastly, be seen and be safe. Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, especially after dark. Happy riding!