Tuesday, June 7, 2011

News & Notes from Assembly Member Mike Miller - NY Assembly District 38

Assemblyman Miller Hosts Successful Job Fair in Glendale

Pictured from Left to Right: Chaplan Joseph D'Agostino, Assemblyman Mike Miller, Jordan Durso, and State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Citing the need for economic recovery in Queens, Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Queens) hosted a job fair at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale this past Tuesday. With over 40 vendors offering jobs for the unemployed, several hundred people crowded into the Freedom Hall seeking employment. Vendors came from local businesses, like Home Depot and Queens Council for Social Welfare, and federal agencies, like the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration.

During these tough economic times, our first priority has to be job creation. I am so thrilled to see all of these vendors looking to put our community back to work” Assemblyman Miller said. “Thanks to the generosity of Christ Tabernacle Church and the many companies that came to the event, many people may once again be able to put bread on the table for their families. It’s the least we could do for them.”

Assemblyman Miller: Take the Time to Honor Our Fallen Soldiers

Memorial Day is celebrated every year as a national day of remembrance to honor our fallen American soldiers, both past and present. The holiday weekend is often used to mark the beginning of summer, a time when people come together at parades and celebrations to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Finding its roots right here in New York, on a main street in the village of Waterloo, Memorial Day was first celebrated in the spring of 1866. Now, nearly a century and a half later, we continue in the same fashion to honor our fallen soldiers. Flags are hung at half mast, flowers are placed on the graves of our lost soldiers and ceremonies are held in cities and towns across the country to commemorate those who gave their lives to protect our families, our homes and our nation. It is a day that unites our country and allows us time to reflect and express our utmost gratitude to those fallen in the fight for freedom.

In recent weeks, we have had an important reminder of the bravery of our troops and how hard they fight to protect us. The recent death of Osama bin Laden reminds us that those who have fallen, both at home and abroad, have not done so in vain. And, it should serve as a warning to America’s enemies that our servicemen and women will fight to protect us, even if they have to travel to the farthest reaches of the globe.

It is my hope that this Memorial Day, we will be able to take the time to honor the uniformed men and women we have lost due to conflict throughout the years. We will always remember and honor them as heroes of our great state and nation.

In the Assembly, my colleagues and I are dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory of those who died during times of conflict. I will do everything in my power to ensure the best for our troops and their families, while at home and abroad. The men and women in uniform – the heroes who fight across the world to defend our freedom – are an inspiration to New Yorkers.

Assembly Package Protects the Rights of New Yorkers with Disabilities

In recognition of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, Assemblyman Miller (D-Queens) announced the passage of a comprehensive package of bills focused on improving the quality of life for New Yorkers with disabilities.

People with disabilities have to overcome difficult challenges every day,” Miller said. “To help remove some of the roadblocks, the Assembly has passed bills that level the playing field for those with disabilities.”

In an effort to combat discrimination, the Assembly passed legislation that would:
  • Clarify protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in services provided by public entities in New York State by making the State Human Rights Law consistent with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (A.71); and
  • Waive the state’s sovereign immunity regarding the ADA and certain other federal acts as they apply to the protection of state employees (A.3689).
It is appalling to me that because of someone’s disability, they may not be able to enjoy the same freedoms as every other New Yorker,” Miller said. “I will continue fighting to make sure everyone has equal rights, no matter what their circumstances may be.”

Making everyday tasks more accessible

The legislation would afford people with disabilities easier access to services by:
  • Requiring that the services of sign-language interpreters be made available upon request of a hearing-impaired individual at public hearings and meetings (A.1932); and
  • Amending the Human Rights Law to define the term “service animal,” which would include, but not be limited to, any guide, hearing or service dog (A.6816).
Ensuring voters with disabilities have equal access to ballots

It’s crucial that a voter with a disability has the same access to absentee ballots during the voting process as any other New Yorker does” Assemblyman Miller said. To ensure this, the Assembly package includes a bill that would enable blind and visually impaired registered voters to request Braille or large-print absentee ballots for all elections administered under the election law (A.5337-A). In addition, the legislation allows those who are visually impaired to request that such ballots are available at polling sites in lieu of voting machines on Election Day for elections under the education law until Dec. 31, 2012, when optical scanning machines will be available.

Establishing emergency protocol to assist people with disabilities

To protect people with disabilities during an emergency, the Assembly’s legislation would:
  • Require high-rise building owners to establish and maintain up-to-date emergency evacuation plans that specifically pertain to disabled occupants and visitors and is readily available to emergency personnel (A.6658); and
  • Require counties to maintain a confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter in the event of a disaster (A.7257). The legislation allows people with disabilities the option to not be included on the registry.
Providing better housing options

To meet the needs of people with disabilities, the Assembly passed legislation allowing tenants with physically disabling conditions that affect their mobility a preference in occupying a vacant housing unit on a lower floor in the same project operated by the New 
York City Housing Authority (A.3420-A).

Making transportation easier for people with disabilities

The Assembly’s legislation would improve transportation by:
  • Establishing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Riders’ Council for People with Disabilities to investigate day-to-day operations of the transportation authority and its subsidiaries, monitor its performance, and make recommendations to improve conditions with respect to disabled riders (A.745);
  • Providing a tax credit to transportation companies for the purchase of new vehicles that are accessible to people with disabilities (A.966-B); and
  • Requiring that both handicapped parking spaces and their access aisles be at least eight-feet wide to ensure that they are spaced far enough for people with disabilities to enter and exit their vehicles (A.3363).
For people with disabilities, getting to certain destinations can be quite a challenge,” Assemblyman Miller said. “By reducing the hassle when riding public transportation and parking in handicapped spaces, we can provide riders with disabilities a more comfortable and less stressful trip.”

Miller: e-STOP Law Removes Thousands of Registered Sex Offenders from Social Networking Sites

Living in an information age with technology evolving faster than ever, we face new challenges every day in keeping our children safe. While the Internet provides numerous entertainment and educational benefits, it can also lead unsuspecting users into a dangerous trap. That’s why I support the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), which, since its passage three years ago, has helped remove more than 24,000 accounts and online profiles linked to registered sex offenders.

It can be very difficult for a child or teen to realize the threat posed by sex offenders masking their true identity online. Since the passage of e-STOP, strict online regulations, including prohibiting certain sex offenders from accessing social networking websites and communicating with minors, have helped protect thousands of children who access the Web each day.

The popularity of social networking sites has resulted in the creation of millions of online personalized profiles that allow users to connect and interact with their friends. But, unfortunately, without the proper safeguards, these sites also allow online predators to easily shield their true identities to make unwanted sexual advances on our children. With e-STOP in place, more than two dozen social networking companies receive a list of updated sex offender information from law enforcement every week to identify predators and remove them from their websites. These companies also alert law enforcement to potential sex offenders on their sites. Already, e-STOP has shown that with full cooperation of law enforcement and social networking companies, thousands of unsafe accounts can be removed, keeping our children out of harm’s way.

New York was the first state in the nation to pass such stringent regulations prohibiting registered sex offenders from using social networking sites to prey on young teens and children. Under e-STOP, sex offenders are mandated to register and keep up-to-date on all current email accounts, screen names and any other form of Internet profiles with law enforcement. By monitoring sex offenders’ Web use, law enforcement has helped remove offender profiles from social networking sites and eliminate the threat they pose in the online community.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for communication and learning, but without online protection, sex offenders have too many opportunities to reach our children. As a supporter of e-STOP, I understand the importance of strengthening our laws to protect families around the state from dangerous online predators.