Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: Newsday

Calm during the storm


Posted: March 7, 2018
Originally Published: March 6, 2018


Raising a storm

You know it’s getting closer to crunchtime in Albany when Long Island advocates make their annual trip to the state capital to lobby lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s staff on legislation they want passed.

With the March 31 budget deadline looming, the group of 40 or so who hopped a bus Tuesday morning included representatives from chambers of commerce, environmental and civic groups, labor unions, construction, solar and wind energy companies, AARP, Island Harvest and the day care industry, among others.

“We have been growing in diversity and number over the years . . . I can’t even believe it,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and one of the effort’s organizers.

In a midday report for The Point, the local contingent said it was making progress. It found bipartisan support on issues like a plan in Cuomo’s budget that would let people employed by small businesses that don’t offer 401(k)s to make retirement savings through a state program, and a bill from Sen. Kemp Hannon that would require drug manufacturers to pay for a statewide program for the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

Discussions with Senate members on proposals to provide funding for county bus systems via some kind of fee on ride-hailing operations like Uber also were encouraging. “They obviously don’t want to subsidize the county budget, but they want to partner with the county,” said Vision Long Island director Eric Alexander, another lobby coalition organizer. “We didn’t get any pushback on that.”

One downer: While 16 members of Long Island’s Assembly delegation confirmed they would attend their session with the advocates, only five — Fred Thiele, Andrew Raia, Michael Fitzpatrick, Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Christine Pellegrino — showed up. The others sent staff.

“We made it known we were annoyed,” Esposito said.