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Hannon tries to derail third track
State Sen. Kemp Hannon is making a last-ditch attempt to derail the Long Island Rail Road third-track project. Hannon has introduced a bill — S-6776 — that would seemingly transfer the $1.95 billion in funding for the long-awaited project to developing “advanced signal and communication technologies” on the railroad and mass transit.
But the third track project includes a modernized signal system; it is an intricate part of the new plan.
In response, the Long Island Association business organization took off the gloves, calling Hannon’s ploy “outrageous.” President and chief executive Kevin Law said, “This misguided bill is wrong for Long Island and would hamstring efforts to modernize our transportation system.”
Hannon does not appear to have the votes in the Senate, never mind the Assembly. And surely Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is passionate about the third-track project, will veto the bill. So what’s the play here?
Most likely, the Garden City senator is throwing in an obstacle to slow down the final negotiations on community benefits packages among local mayors and the governor’s office. Once those mayors give a thumbs-up for the third track, Hannon and Sen. Elaine Phillips of Flower Hill will lose their cover for opposing a project that’s critical to improve service for commuters and the economic future of Long Island.
Or is it really just a political tantrum because the governor blocked legislative pay raises and spoke favorably of Hannon’s opponent in 2016?
On your mark, get set, listen
For months, community members, New York Islanders fans and others interested in developing the land around Belmont Park have been waiting for the state to formally request proposals from developers.
They’re going to have to wait a bit longer.
Local elected officials have announced plans for a “listening session” on July 10. Area residents and others will be able to provide their thoughts on what the Belmont request for proposals should include. Speakers will get three minutes each at the meeting at the Elmont Memorial Library.
The announcement comes more than a month after Assemb. Michaelle Solages, who represents the area around Belmont, proposed holding hearings on the state’s plans. Solages — along with Assemb. Clyde Vanel, and State Sens. Leroy Comrie, Todd Kaminsky and Elaine Phillips — will host the listening session. Empire State Development representatives will attend, a spokeswoman told The Point.
Solages told The Point Tuesday the session is an opportunity to get area residents involved.
“It’s important to have the community as a partner in the process for redevelopment at Belmont,” she said. “It makes the initiative go smoother, and it allows for newer, more creative ideas to come forward.” Solages also wants to get jobs for her district at the developed property.
The New York Islanders are eyeing Belmont as a potential site for an arena, and the team has expressed interest in bidding on a potential RFP. The Islanders or the Barclays Center could opt out of their agreement in January. Depending on who triggers the opt-out, the Islanders could leave Brooklyn at the end of the 2017-18 season or after the 2018-19 season.
For now, the team will have to wait at least a few weeks longer. Solages said she expects the RFP will emerge sometime after the listening session.
Randi F. Marshall
Follow the hashtag #DayInTheLifeLI on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Wednesday to see Matt Davies showcasing a typical day as Newsday’s cartoonist.
There’s been no mention of the LGBT community in a bill passed by the New York State Senate since marriage equality passed in 2011. This legislative session will likely close with the same outcome.
It’s not for want of trying. There is a Senate bill that would ban gay conversion therapy on minors, a treatment that has been disproved for years. Experts say that minors who undergo the therapy are more likely to become suicidal, depressed and use drugs than LGBT minors who aren’t exposed to the therapy. But Republicans want none of it.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, said the GOP conference is “very reluctant, I would even argue obstinate, in their refusal to address LGBT New Yorkers.”
The Assembly passed legislation to ban “reparative” therapy of LGBT minors in 2015, 2016 and, most recently, in April 2017. But the bill has always died in committee in the other chamber despite all eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference co-sponsoring on the bill. Sen. Phil Boyle of Bay Shore is the only GOP co-sponsor.
As a result, New York won’t join the eight other states that have banned the practice. However, New York does have regulations that stop private and public health insurers from covering the therapy, and prohibits state mental health facilities from conducting it on minors.
It’s unknown how prevalent the practice is in New York, but sponsors consider the bill both a symbolic and measurable action to increase acceptance of LGBT children.
“This is an issue fundamentally about children, and the respect we should be affording LGBT kids,” Hoylman said. “We’re contributing to the narrative of, ‘If you’re gay, you need to get help.’ ’’