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Assembly Member Kellner's December 2012 Newsletter

Assembly Member Kellner's December 2012 Newsletter

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Published by Micah Kellner

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Published by: Micah Kellner on Dec 18, 2012
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December 2012 - In this issue:
Assembly Member Kellner Brings Another Lawsuit to Stop the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station
Solutions to New York State's Election Day Problems
The Co-op and Condo Tax Abatement
The Fight Continues Against Hydrofracking in New York 
Increasing the Minimum Wage for All New Yorkers
Happy Holidays!
A New Assembly District in January
Apply for a Community Grant through Citizens Committee for New York 
Free Monthly Legal Clinic for Tenants
Visit my website: www.MicahKellner.com Follow me on Twitter: @micahkellner
Assembly Member Kellner BringsAnother Lawsuit to Stop theEast 91
Street Marine Transfer Station
 Assembly Member Kellner announcing his new lawsuit to stop the MarineTransfer Station
Last month, I announced that I am the lead plaintiff – along with Councilmember Jessica Lappin andothers – on a new federal lawsuit challenging theU.S. Army Corps of Engineers' permitting of MayorBloomberg’s ill-conceived East 91st Street MarineTransfer Station.When Superstorm Sandy hit on October 29th, thearea around the East 91st Street Marine TransferStation flooded, damaging Asphalt Green’s facilities– with waters reaching as far as First Avenue. Thisnew reality of frequent extreme weather should be awake up call for the Army Corps of Engineers, theBloomberg administration and the City Council –that building a Marine Transfer Station in FloodZone “A” is a disaster in the making.Our new lawsuit exposes the fact that the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers violated the requirements of theFederal Clean Water Act along with its ownguidelines in granting the final permit necessary tobegin construction on the East 91st Street MarineTransfer Station. The Army Corps of Engineers cutcorners in issuing its permit in July. It failed tothoroughly evaluate all possible alternative sites, thetrue long term environmental impact on this denselypopulated residential neighborhood and whetherconstructing a Marine Transfer Station at East 91stStreet is truly in the public interest. That puts ourcommunity, and the tens-of-thousands of people whouse Asphalt Green each year, at risk.This new lawsuit will give us yet another avenue tofinally stop the construction of the East 91st StreetMarine Transfer Station.
Solutions to New York State'sElection Day Problems
Many New Yorkers - myself included - experiencedlong delays when they tried to cast their ballots onElection Day. The long lines, broken ballot scanners
and lack of competent poll workers illustrated justhow antiquated New York’s election law is. Clearlyour current election system could not handle thenumber of New Yorkers who attempted to cast aballot. We need to institute a voting process that iseasy, efficient and secure as possible.
Assembly Member Kellner voting on Election Day -- after waiting an hour and a half 
I believe mail-in balloting is a solution that NewYork State should study. It has proven to be aneffective and secure method of voting in other states,such as Oregon and Washington. It provides voterswith the same capacity to make their vote count withconvenience and without the human or technicalerror that New Yorkers faced in this last Presidentialelection. Vote-by-mail elections improve theaccuracy of voter registration and also simplify theelectoral process.
Oregon's voting is done 100% by mail. Their ballotmarking program allows voters to mark, review, andprint a ballot for return. Washington State also votesprimarily through mail-in ballots. Ballot materialsare mailed or made available to voters at least 18days prior to an election. The ballots are completedby the voter and placed in an inner securityenvelope. That envelope is then placed in the outerreturn envelope where the voter signs an affidavit toensure a ballot’s authenticity, making mail-in votingsafe and secure. Signed envelopes are then mailed nolater than Election Day.
I have also signed onto legislation which establishesearly voting in New York State. This legislationwould enact a number of fixes to help alleviateproblems our state may face in future elections. Allregistered voters would be able to cast their ballotsas early as two weeks before a general election andone week before a special election. Also, at leastfive polling places would be required in each of our62 counties. I think these are much needed steps onthe way to reforming our entire elections process andI look forward to making this legislation a reality.New Yorkers deserve a voting system that is bothsimple and convenient.
The Co-op and Condo Tax Abatement
Many condo and co-op owners on the Upper EastSide, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island have been ableto remain in the city due - in large part - to aproperty tax abatement making it affordable. Thetax abatement expired this year and, unfortunately,the legislature ended its session without anagreement to extend it for co-op and condo owners.Those who are worried about receiving a higher taxbill next month have nothing to fear. The New York City’s Department of Finance will send outestimated tax bills as if the abatement is still inplace. When the legislature reconvenes in January,our first priority is the vote to reauthorize theprogram retroactively. It is important to me tocontinue to fight keep this abatement in place so thatNew York’s property owners will not be priced outof their homes.
The Fight Continues AgainstHydrofracking in New York
For several years, there has been an effort underwayto allow drilling for natural gas in upstate New York through a process known as hydraulic fracturing,commonly referred to as “hydrofracking”.Hydrofracking uses a mixture of nearly 600chemicals, many of them kept secret from the public,and millions of gallons of water, which are blastedunderground in order to destabilize rock and shale toextract natural gas.I have opposed hydrofracking from the verybeginning because it is not yet proven that it can bedone safely and without poisoning our water orcausing other environmental damage.Hydrofracking poses a real danger to our state and -last year - I sponsored a bill in the Assembly to banit entirely.
Over mine and other advocates' opposition,Governor Cuomo has directed the State Departmentof Environmental Conservation (DEC) to draftregulations to permit hydrofracking to move forwardin New York State. Recently, he announced that theDEC would be extending its public comment periodon the draft regulations for hydrofracking to allowfor a review of potential adverse health affects fromdrilling. I have been advocating for a broader healthimpact study of hydrofracking for over a year, and Iam very pleased to see this extra step in place beforeNew York jumps into hydrofracking without fullyunderstanding its ramifications.I encourage all New Yorkers to take the time tomake your voices heard by commenting on theDEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov.The new end date for the comment period is nowJanuary 11, 2013.
Increasing the Minimum Wagefor All New Yorkers
Since 2006, the minimum wage in New York Statehas remained stagnant at $7.25 per hour. Ourworkforce deserves better.When Congress first implemented a minimum wagein 1938, it was intended to ensure that low-wageworkers would earn a livable wage. However, theminimum wage has fallen decades behind thegrowing rate of inflation.According to the United States Bureau of LaborStatistics, the nation's minimum wage peaked in1968 – at the 2010 equivalent of $9.60. If the 1968minimum wage of $1.50 had been indexed to keepup with inflation, it would have had the purchasingpower today of $10.03. Here in New York, if ourstate minimum wage had been indexed to keep upwith inflation it would be approximately $10.80today.New York's current minimum wage is not nearlysufficient enough to meet the rising costs of food andshelter, let alone provide for the costs of healthcare,transportation, child care and other necessities thathard working New Yorkers and their families faceevery day.In 2010, there were over 264,000 people in NewYork State earning at or below the minimum wage,many of whom are right here in the five boroughs.With cost of living well above the national average itis vital that our wage standards here in New York reflect this fact. The guarantee of a livable wagebenefits not only workers and their families; it is alsoa direct benefit for New York’s overall economy.Under a bill I’ve sponsored, our minimum wagewould go up to $8.50 per hour - still well belowwhat it would be if it had been indexed for inflation.That increase would make our minimum wageamong the highest in the nation – second only toWashington State. I am confident that when we headback to Albany after the New Year we can come toan agreement with our colleagues in the Senate topass this legislation immediately.
Happy Holidays!
My wife and I wish you and your families a
happy,healthy and safe
holiday season.Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a joyousNew Year!Just a reminder: I will be joining with my East Sideelected colleagues to host a holiday party onTuesday, December 18th from 6:30-8pm atMarymount Manhattan College's Great Hall locatedat 221 East 71st Street (between Second and ThirdAvenues).We are asking for donations to New York Cares 24thAnnual Coat Drive, which is more important thanever in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
A New Assembly District in January
Since 2007, I have represented the 65th AssemblyDistrict, stretching from 60th Street all the way up to95th Street on the East Side. Following New York’sredistricting process this year, I will now berepresenting the brand new 76th Assembly District.The district will shift a few blocks in some spots, butI will still represent most of the old 65th district,including Roosevelt Island.

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