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55 cents for your thoughts

Daily Point

On hot air

The Climate and Community Investment Act is a sprawling piece of proposed state legislation that would set a price for greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants, invest in renewables and efficient energy infrastructure, and plenty more. But some Long Islanders talking about the bill are focused on one number: 55.

"STOP THE GAS TAX," say mailers from Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature, which suggest that the bill would "increase the gasoline tax by 55¢ per gallon."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone took a similar tack in a Friday tweet: "Gas prices are high enough! But ‘The Climate and Community Investment Act’ would raise the gas tax by 55 cents/gallon, & raise taxes on natural gas, fuel oil & electricity," wrote the Democrat.

The legislation does not actually include this exact "gas tax": the figure comes from either a 55-cent estimate working off Tax Foundation numbers that has been cited by Republicans, or a Business Council of New York State estimate of how much gas prices would increase due to the new tax on emissions. The council found that number would be 54 cents a gallon, not 55. There’s no law that says that sum must be passed through from fuel suppliers to the consumer, but "it’s hard to imagine that it won’t be," says Ken Pokalsky, vice president with the group.

The legislation also has a rebate mechanism that would send some of the new tax revenue back to some households, though there are arguments about what exact effect that would have.

These complications, of course, are far beyond the scope of the simple politics at stake here. The bill faces long odds to move in the waning days of session, and it has no Long Island co-sponsors in the Senate. But by coming out against it, Long Island politicians get a chance to say broadly and generically that they don’t want to pass the buck on to LI families, and just want to "#ProtectTheTaxpayer," which is how Bellone’s tweet ended.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Fast or slow in Albany

This week, the State Senate voted 63-0 to pass the Adult Survivors Act, which would create a one-year window for the revival of civil claims concerning sexual offenses committed against people who were 18 or older.

It’s something of a companion to the landmark Child Victims Act of 2019, and the overwhelming upper chamber support this time was striking — particularly because the new legislation has only reached the judiciary committee in the Assembly.

Other anti-harassment and discrimination bills have met a similar fate in the capital this year, passing the Senate and getting stuck in the Assembly.

Some advocates and lawmakers privately see the chambers’ divergent paths here as an example of new Albany realities: that younger, more vocal senators are pushing their favored issues without being blocked by leadership. And that an incumbent-heavy Assembly might be more leery about bills that address the kind of workplace harassment that has often cropped up in state offices.

On that note, the collective of former legislative employees who formed the Sexual Harassment Working Group in the wake of #MeToo addressed an angry open letter to Speaker Carl Heastie and judiciary chair Charles Lavine about the Assembly’s lack of action on harassment bills: "As a collective — including a large contingent of workers abused by former members of the Assembly like Vito Lopez, Micah Kellner, and Angela Wozniak — we are very familiar with the patterns of this chamber to block, delay, and run out the clock on survivors and the legislation that would protect them as a means of providing cover for serial abusers."

Arguments on the Assembly side for the slower motion include that big bills like this one need to be carefully debated and drafted and sometimes tweaked. Also, the Assembly is much bigger.

"There are 150 members of the Assembly and only 63 members of the Senate, and so things will move much more quickly given that disproportionate numerical composition," said Lavine, a Glen Cove Democrat.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

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Final Point

Once in a lifetime?

Saturday will be a big day for Long Island sports.

Belmont Park will get its annual star turn, with the arrival of the Belmont Stakes in front of about 12,000 fans. And a few miles away, the New York Islanders will play Game 4 of the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs at Nassau Coliseum before another 12,000 fans.

Such a confluence of events is unlikely to happen again.

The Islanders plan to move this fall to UBS Arena at Belmont Park. Once the team is in its new arena, which is now under construction, no home playoff games would be scheduled for the same day as the Belmont Stakes with unrestricted attendance, because the parking areas would be shared and traffic would be an even bigger issue than usual. So, any game coinciding with one of horse racing’s biggest days of the year would be scheduled for the opposing team’s arena or for another day.

Or … if need be, is there a way for the Islanders to return to their roots, and play a Belmont Stakes Day hockey game at the Coliseum, which Thursday featured the lively and loud atmosphere fans and players love?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years of drama surrounding the Islanders’ home ice, it’s this:

Never say never.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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