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Joining forces against SALT

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is seen Oct. 30,

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is seen Oct. 30, 2018. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

Daily Point

Strange bedfellows

The fight to overcome the $10,000 limit on federal deductions for state and local income and property taxes has made for strange bedfellows since its passage in 2017.

Democrats and Republicans from high-tax states have come together to howl in outrage and the most recent odd pairing brings together Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin and New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer. On Monday, the two House members announced they are co-sponsoring a bill to repeal the SALT cap.

The duo says their plan is different: It’s the first one to define how the Treasury can make up for the tax dollars it would lose by rescinding SALT. And it does so without increasing the corporate or personal tax rates that were the hallmarks of the controversial 2017 law.

So why did Zeldin join forces with Gottheimer when he could have paired with fellow Long Island Rep. Thomas Suozzi, a fervent bipartisan, SALT hater and, interestingly enough, D.C. housemate of Gottheimer?

Suozzi pointed out that he has already sponsored his own bipartisan SALT bill with Pete King. And Zeldin and Gottheimer have gotten to know each other serving on the Financial Services Committee. Katie Vincentz, a spokeswoman for Zeldin, also pointed out that Zeldin is a co-sponsor of the King/Suozzi SALT repeal, as he is of a third version being carried by Nita Lowey, who represents part of Westchester and Rockland counties. And Suozzi says he’ll happily co-sponsor the Zeldin/Gottheimer effort, assuming the changes they propose make sense.

“It’s a team effort,” Vincentz added.

And how does the Zeldin/Gottheimer bill pay for a SALT cap repeal that the Tax Foundation estimates would cost the federal Treasury $671 billion through 2025, the year the cap is set to expire? Both men say their bill will close loopholes in the capital-gains tax laws, but they aren’t saying which ones.

The two biggest capital gains loopholes are the zero-percent capital gains rate on families with income under $102,750 and the rule that inherited assets, when sold, are taxed on the difference between the sale price and their value when inherited, rather than their value when they were bought.

Can the Zeldin/Gottheimer plan work? Not according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley. He says his panel has no plans to revisit the SALT issue, because he sees lifting the cap as subsidizing high-tax states.

And that’s a theory Democrats and Republicans from highly taxed states that actually subsidize rural and poorer ones like Iowa will gladly come together to debunk.

- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

A big catch

Add another item to the list that shows how the Democratic takeover of the State Senate has loosened the legislation logjam:

A bill to protect the vital bait fish known as menhaden has been sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his signature.

The measure sponsored in the Assembly by Democrat Steve Englebright passed in that chamber last year but never even got a vote in the Senate. This year, now championed in that chamber by fellow Democrat Todd Kaminsky, the new chair of the Senate’s environmental conservation committee, the bill passed 61-0. Which means every Republican senator who cast a vote said yes.

The bill is important to Long Island. Menhaden, known as bunker fish, have rebounded in population and are an important part of the diets of bluefish, striped bass, some whales and other predators. Local fishermen catch menhaden for bait.

The bill bans the use of nets called purse seines to catch menhaden, a tactic big industrial boats use for huge harvests that could deplete the species that also is a source of fish oil and powdered protein.

Albany insiders say the one difference from last year’s bill — a small change requested by the state Department of Environmental Conservation — does not explain the GOP turnaround. The DEC asked for, and received, the right to publicly declare a fish-kill emergency when too many menhaden are crowded into a small area, depleting oxygen levels in the water such that a massive die-off could take place. Under those circumstances, the DEC would be able to temporarily allow the use of purse seines.

Cuomo has until midnight on April 20 to sign the bill, and is expected to do so.

All because the Senate finally responded to the challenge of fish or cut bait.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

Testing, testing...

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Final Point

Welcome home

It’s been more than a year since a large Colonial on St. Andrews Lane in Glen Cove became the center of controversy as residents protested a plan for it to be used as a residence for people with eating disorders.

It took months of hearings with angry residents, rejections from Glen Cove’s City Council, and a legal challenge that led to a ruling by a state Supreme Court judge last fall to allow the plan. The ruling was based on New York’s Padavan law, which makes it difficult for cities and towns to oppose group homes. After that decision, Monte Nido & Associates, the company that will run the residential program, bought and renovated the house.

And now, this week and next, clinicians, coaches, nutritionists, and administrative staff are gathering at the six-bedroom house for training sessions, as they prepare to welcome their first residents. Monte Nido officials are waiting for the state to grant them their license, and hope to open the home’s doors to residents in early May.

From the outside, little has changed about the St. Andrews Lane home. The facade and front lawn are the same, save for an added small half-circle driveway. There are plans to build a parking area in the back of the property, Monte Nido officials said, but that work won’t begin until later this spring, when additional landscaping also is planned.

Inside, however, the home has undergone a significant renovation. That includes new paint, flooring, furniture, and a redesign of some of the floor plan to allow for individual therapy rooms, a bright, large yoga room, an elevator and security system, and bedrooms, hallways and chairs all specifically designed for a variety of body types.

Eventually, the residence could house up to 14 residents, and for the first time, Monte Nido has decided to open it up to all patients regardless of gender or gender identity. But it’ll start smaller. Once the license is granted, Monte Nido will open its doors to three residents, and then slowly grow the program over time.

Last year, residents worried the house would change the neighborhood -- including increased traffic and noise. And as staffers gathered for training this week, when The Point paid a visit, the house was bustling inside.

Outside, however, it was quiet. There was no noise, no floodlights, and seemingly no additional traffic. And no protesters.

- Randi F. Marshall @randimarshall

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