Vaccination bill may be catching
What a difference a couple of weeks -- and dozens more measles cases -- make.
After weeks of uncertainty in Albany, and lots of pressure from anti-vaccination advocates, it looks like Thursday will be a big day for lawmakers hoping to end the state’s religious exemption on vaccination.
The bill to end the exemption is on the state Assembly health committee’s Thursday agenda. Assemb. Jeffrey Dinowitz, who sponsored the bill, told The Point he now thinks he has the votes to pass the legislation in committee and move it to the full Assembly for approval.
“Assuming everyone shows up and everyone tells the truth about how they’re going to vote, I believe we will have the votes,” Dinowitz said.
That includes Long Island Assemb. Michaelle Solages, a health committee member who has told The Point that if the religious-exemption bill comes up for a vote, she will vote for it.
It’s expected that if the bill passes the Assembly health committee, it could move on to a vote in the full body fairly quickly.
Meanwhile, the state Senate plans to bring the bill through its health committee, and then to the floor for a vote, all on Thursday, according to Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
Hoylman told The Point that the Senate’s leadership supports the bill -- and that the chamber has the votes to pass it.
All of that progress comes as the measles outbreak continues, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Across New York State, there’ve been 922 measles cases since the outbreak began in the fall. Of that, 588 cases were reported in New York City.
Meanwhile, despite the loud voices of those who oppose the bill, a Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday found that 84 percent of New Yorkers support ending the religious exemption. Of suburban voters, 81 percent backed ending the exemption.
- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
The politics of assessement
Nassau County’s broken property-tax assessment system, a huge issue in the 2017 election that brought County Executive Laura Curran to power, could play just as prominently in the 2019 county legislative races and the battle for control of the chamber.
Curran’s reset of the assessment system that former County Executive Edward Mangano froze in 2011 will create some big winners and losers. People who have not been grieving their taxes each year and getting the nearly automatic reductions the county granted to settle appeals quickly and avoid paying refunds will see tax cuts. People who did grieve each year and beat their assessed value way down will see big tax increases when the new roll applies fair values.
And some of these increases are likely to be so large and upsetting that Curran decided that these hikes and the corresponding cuts should be phased in over five years. The theory, backed up by some polling, is that the phase-in mollifies those seeing increases without infuriating those who will still get decreases, albeit more slowly than without the phase-in. State lawmakers approved the plan in April.
However, it needs approval from the county legislature and that’s where the politics truly come into play.
The legislature’s Republican majority has said it knows the phase-in is needed, but spokesman Chris Boyle has said they have at least a year to pass it and still get the August 2020 tax bill printed and mailed. “We are going to have a phase-in, but we don’t know exactly when it will be voted on. Our question is, why rush?” Boyle told The Point.
Boyle and Republican legislators argue the process has been marked by numerous errors, like 20,000 mistake-riddled tax disclosure notices mailed last year and numerous complaints by residents that their assessments are too high.
But that doesn’t explain the strategy of delaying approval of the phase-in, which will be needed to shelter a lot of Republican taxpayers from huge hikes whether the reassessment process runs smooth or bumpy.
If the GOP waits long enough, it can argue this election cycle that the Democratic reassessment still threatens some constituents with huge tax increases. That puts Democrats on the defense, and they will have to counter with a more complicated message: that it’s actually the GOP failure to pass the phase-in that is creating the threat.
Withholding approval of the phase-in by the GOP could make the reassessment process a partisan battle against Curran and Democrats. If so, the value of that strategy will be decided on Election Day.
- Lane Filler @lanefiller
Bull in a...
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Where are all the young people going?
The Long Island Association's Research Institute published a new report showing a decline in "youngsters" on Long Island, and predicting a shrinking workforce. How can we turn this around? Read on and find out more about the trend, and share your thoughts.
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- Kai Teoh @jkteoh