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From the Desk of Assemblyman Charles Lavine: August 7, 2009

Invests in Green Jobs, Green New York

New York State Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced that the Assembly has passed legislation authorizing the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to create and administer the Green Jobs, Green New York program that provides financing to communities, homes, small businesses and not-for-profits to help revitalize the economy in an energy-independent and environmentally responsible way (A.8901).

“This program will simultaneously help revive New York’s struggling economy and protect our environment. We’ll be tackling our economic and environmental problems head-on by investing in green energy sources, while creating the jobs to support this new industry. Clean, energy-efficient communities are the key to our future and New York needs to take positive, proactive steps to make it happen,” said Lavine.

The assemblyman added that the program would create workforce development opportunities for underemployed communities and require a comprehensive report to the governor and Legislature after 18 months. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and New York Power Authority will be authorized, along with the municipal systems they serve, to participate in the project.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will provide $112 million in funding for residential and small business energy-efficiency projects. A revolving loan fund will help commit resources, with no less than 50 percent of the capital going to retrofit residential homes with green technology.

“There are many ways that homes can be retrofitted and updated with green technology,”  Lavine said. “These include switching to more energy-efficient lighting and lighting systems, programming thermostats, plugging air leaks, tuning up heating and cooling systems, using Energy Star fixtures such as furnaces and water heaters, reducing water use and switching to thermal and solar water-heating systems.”

Specific communities will be selected through a program-opportunity notice or other form of competitive solicitation. Applicants will include local community groups in collaboration with contractors and local utilities, including LIPA, and labor and training organizations. An emphasis will be placed on geographic diversity, and preferential funding will be awarded to coalitions that include women- and minority-based businesses as well as groups based in economically distressed communities.

The Assembly bill also directs NYSERDA to include more provisions in its comprehensive home-assessment program to establish a sliding scale for payment of audit fees for residential projects. Assemblyman Lavine said audit fees may be fully waived for some income-qualified homeowners. If a business or residence chooses to do the energy-efficiency project or retrofit, any applicable audit costs may be capitalized in the repayment of the retrofit costs.

“Protecting the environment can go hand-in-hand with employing New Yorkers with good jobs that help promote a healthy energy future,” Lavine said. “Our plans are in step with President Barack Obama’s groundbreaking $150 billion, decade-long plan to further develop clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar and to promote conservation. Like the president’s plan, our goal is to create scores of new jobs in the green-energy sector and make the important energy-efficiency changes that will get us – and our environment – back on track.”

Lavine said that the Power for Jobs program and the Energy Cost Savings Benefit programs have been extended through May 15, 2010 (A.8825-A). “Low-cost power helps businesses and not-for-profits compete in today’s marketplace by providing them relief from the high energy costs that plague our state,” Lavine said. “This extender will ensure that businesses participating in this program will continue to receive the benefits they need to protect and create more jobs.”

Legislation Cracks Down on

Criminals Who Target Reproductive Health Service Workers

New York State Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced that before concluding this year’s legislative term on June 23, the Assembly passed legislation protecting reproductive health service doctors and clinic workers from targeted acts of violence (A.8924). The bill addresses a disturbing trend of violence toward those who administer constitutionally protected family planning services.

“Doctors, staff and volunteers who provide reproductive planning services offer an invaluable support system to women in times of crisis and need. It is a travesty that these professional, caring individuals have been marked for assault,” said Lavine.

The legislation creates the class E felony of aggravated interference with health-care services in the second degree for those who cause physical injury to someone who is obtaining, providing or assisting someone with legal reproductive health services. A class E felony conviction carries a potential sentence of up to four years in prison.

The bill also creates a class C felony of aggravated interference with health-care services in the first degree for those who cause serious physical injury to a doctor, patient or staff member. If convicted of a class C felony, an attacker faces up to 15 years in prison. In addition, the Assembly’s legislation ensures that repeat offenders receive appropriate punishment.

“The recent murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas by an assailant who disagreed with his work providing family planning services and abortions in his medical practice shows the dire need for this type of legislation and the protection it will provide,” Lavine said, adding that unfortunately, Dr. Tiller’s murder “is not an isolated incident. Violent attackers have killed several others who provide these necessary, legal services, including Dr. Barnett Slepian of New York State. Other victims include clinic receptionists, security guards, volunteers – the list goes on and on.”

The assemblyman concluded, “These incidents are blatant acts of intimidation, intended to discourage doctors from providing legal reproductive health care services as well as placing women in fear of seeking these services. I’ll continue to work to ensure that the vicious criminals who commit these senseless acts of violence are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”