Sunday, January 30, 2011

Senator Addabbo Hopeful for a Bipartisan Session by AnnMarie Costella - Queens Chronicle

Read original...

Practical laws to help everyday people —that is the legislative goal of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) this session. He hopes the switch of power from Democratic to Republican control in Albany will not hinder the Senate’s main purpose, which is to work for the betterment of New York residents.

“We need to optimize the professionalism of the Senate in order to reach our full potential for the good of the people and the state government,” Addabbo said. “We need to share resources and ideas.”

But it hasn’t gotten off to a good start. Addabbo said he and his colleagues were given rules changes shortly before the session started.

“There was no public hearing or time to examine them and compare them to the current rules,” Addabbo said. “That is unacceptable.”

“I hope this is not an indication of how things will be going forward,” Addabbo continued. “I am sincerely optimistic and hopeful that we have learned a lot over the last two years and the last 40 years of the Senate, so that we can shed this label of dysfunction.”

Addabbo is already showing that he is ready to cross the aisle and work with the GOP. He supports a state spending cap and a bill to limit future tax increases, both of which were introduced by Republican senators.

The first bill, S. 1892, places limitations on the amount of money the governor may propose to spend in a given fiscal year. While the other, S.1919, would require a two-thirds vote each by the Senate and Assembly before increasing or decreasing any tax rate; imposing a new state tax; or extending or removing an existing state tax.

“Public support for a spending cap is strong and the state government needs to address its spending practices,” Addabbo said in a statement. “A spending cap will force more discipline over budget and tax measures, meaning state government will have to live within its means, just like our families do.”

The senator plans to introduce numerous bills this session, covering a wide range of issues — most of which, he says, came from the ideas, concerns and complaints of his constituents.

Based on findings that tires over seven years old are usually dangerously worn and tend to blow out causing accidents, Addabbo is proposing a law that would require companies to put a label on each tire with the date when it was manufactured.

Tires usually have this information imprinted on them already, but it’s coded, Addabbo explained, making it impossible for consumers to decipher.

“The average person should know what they are buying,” Addabbo said.

Also on his agenda, is legislation that he hopes will act as a drunk driving deterrent. He wants any intoxicated person who gets behind the wheel and kills someone to be charged with murder.

Typically, they would be slapped with a vehicular manslaughter because the act is believed to be unintended. Addabbo, however, contends that it is quite the opposite.

“There is that threshold, right before you lose rational thought, where you make that conscious decision not to give your keys to someone,” Addabbo said. “Until we really crack down on this issue, these incidents will continue to occur in our community.”

Every time a person buys a new house and changes residence, they are required to re-register to vote, the lawmaker said, so to make it easier he wants to require that the voter registration forms are provided at real estate closings.

“You wouldn’t be required to fill them out, but at least you would have the option,” Addabbo said.

As the then chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, one of the top complaints Addabbo received was that the type on the new election ballots is too small and constituents are having a hard time reading them, so he has introduced legislation to change that.

As chairman of the Senate’s Gaming and Wagering Committee, Addabbo is worried about the Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans possibly opening a casino complex in Monticello, Sullivan County, thanks to an agreement signed with former Gov. David Paterson.

It would compete with the new Aqueduct racino, scheduled to open this spring in South Ozone Park, hindering its chance of success before it even gets off the ground, according to Addabbo. He plans to write a letter to Gov. Cuomo soon expressing his concerns.

“Working everyday and having the opportunity to help the people in my district is a privilege,” Addabbo said. “I understand their concerns and I will always be there for them.”