Long Island Lobby Coalition Heads to Albany for 11th Annual Trip

Members of the Long Island Lobby Coalition traveled to Albany this week to meet with state lawmakers on a shared agenda for our region and local communities.

The coalition was founded in 2009 and has worked tirelessly since then to unify disparate groups and organizations that represent community, environmental, small business, labor, and human services into a single, unified voice.  The group has seen ten bills passed to the benefit of Long Island in its time as well as numerous budgetary and regulatory proposals enacted, and several key Long Island infrastructure projects funded through our collective efforts.

This year’s agenda included support for tax-deferred IRA accounts for small businesses, implementation of internet fairness, restoration of NYS AIM funding cuts, funding for the NYS downtown revitalization initiative, bus funding for NICE and Suffolk County Transit, fair share for bike and pedestrian safety, a commuter benefit ordinance, water quality, statewide food recovery & recycling act, banning off shore drilling, support for off-shore wind and solar energy programs, foreclosure assistance, support for Pre-K services. Infrastructure asks include traffic calming for Sunrise Highway and Hicksville, Huntington Station sewering and land transfer for Kings Park, the continuing of the Route 347 Greenway project and funding for the Empire Trail.

The first meeting of the day was with the bi-partisan members of the Long Island Senate delegation including Senators John Flanagan, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Monica R. Martinez for State Senate, Senator Phil Boyle, Senator Anna M. Kaplan, Senator Jim Gaughran, and Senator Kevin Thomas.  We were particularly pleased to see bipartisanship from the Senate members as they agreed on a variety of issues based on region rather than party. The Senators vowed to work together in a bipartisan fashion on varying items from the Calition’s agenda. Items of interest that were discussed included funding for route 347 and other infrastructure projects as well as water quality.

The coalition would also meet with Assemblymembers that included Steve Stern, Michael Fitzpatrick, Doug Smith, Judy Griffin, Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Michaelle C. Solages, Andrew R. Garbarino, and Joe DeStefano.  The Assemblymembers who were able to join us did so at a time when most were needed elsewhere for important committee meetings, which showed that they understood that listening to constituents was an important part of their job as well. Assemblymembers agreed to take the lead for many of the budget and legislative issues raised in the coalition’s platform.

The final meeting of the day was with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff and included representatives from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Economic Development, and Legislative Affairs along with the LI staff. The group of six representatives listened as the Coalition laid out its agenda, taking notes in order to bring them back to Governor Cuomo as well as targeting which members of government they could work with to help get these important issues passed.

Vision Long Island and the LI Lobby Coalition would like to thank all the members of our State government who took the time to hear the message from local communities and provide feedback.  Lawmakers and the Governor’s representatives responded positively to most of the items on our agenda and indicated that some of them have even begun to move through committees.  We look forward to continuing to work with state government to bring Long Island priorities to fruition as often and as quickly as possible.

“These diverse issues effect every single Long Islander, that’s why there is such immense support for the LI Lobby Coalition. Drinking water protection, advancing solar and wind power, supporting our small businesses and also helping those in need are critical issues that Long Islanders can all agree on and issues that will make our island sustainable and affordable,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“In a political climate that is joyfully hostile to collaboration, negotiation and fairness Long Island community, business, environment and labor organizations are working together to address key local needs. This coalition once again serves as a powerful public voice to bring resources back to our Main Streets” Eric Alexander, Director, Vision Long Island.

John Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said, “The LI Lobby Coalition has spent over a decade advocating for more funding for transportation, sewage and infrastructure priorities that support our region. We have a record of success advancing housing, human services, environmental programs, and legislation that benefits all working families throughout our region.” Durso continued, “We look forward to expanding Facilitated Childcare Enrollment to include Long Island, and add this to our list of accomplishments benefiting the region.”

“The Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Inc. and the Long Island Business Council feel the responsibility for collecting and remitting sales and use taxes from out-of-state online purchases be alleviated from the individual New York State taxpayers and rightfully assumed by out-of-state ecommerce vendors or marketplace providers. Millions of uncollected funds are being lost as main street businesses continue to struggle with an unlevel playing field,” said Francesca Carlow, President, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce.

“This is an excellent opportunity to present Long Island’s major issues to our representatives in the State Legislature and to the Governor’s Office. Our discussions with them are positive, constructive and ongoing.” David H. Stonehill Board of Directors, Hispanic Counseling Center, Hempstead, NY.

“The Long Island Pre-K Initiative is requesting $750,000 to support a Regional Technical Assistance Center on Long Island to provide a bridge to assist school districts and early care and education partners to plan and develop a financially responsible system of care, and to serve as a model for New York State. Long Island has the lowest number of 4 year old children served in NYS public funded, full-day Pre-k.” – Lynda Parmely, LI Pre-k Initiative.

“Today, diverse leaders representing the broad spectrum of Long Island constituencies come together to speak with one voice. Those who hold positions of leadership in Albany can best demonstrate their support for Long Island by engaging, listening to and affirmatively acting on behalf of this broad coalition of voices that is now 100+ organizations and 10 years strong.” Michael Harrison, Axcelsior LLC.

This year’s platform was assembled with direct input from over 40 groups and with the backing of nearly 100 supporting organizations.

Special thanks to our participants, who included AARP Long Island, AT&T, the Baldwin Civic Association, LI Transportation Alliance, Child Care Council of Suffolk , Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Concerned Citizens of Plainview / Old Bethpage,Orsted/Deepwater Wind, The Elmont Chamber of Commerce, Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Long Island, Friends of Freeport, Hempstead Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Chamber Of Commerce, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, Island Harvest, Long Island Jobs with Justice, Kings Park Civic Association, the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, LISTnet, Long Island Business Council, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, the Long Island Federation of Labor, Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, Merrick Chamber of Commerce, Nassau Council of Chambers, Nassau Suffolk Law Services, Nesconset Chamber of Commerce, Oceanside Civic Association, Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, Plainview / Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, LI Pre-K Initiative, Renaissance Downtowns, Source the Station, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, SunPower by EmPower Solar, Town of Hempstead, Transit Solutions, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Vision Long Island.

You can check out coverage from LI Business News here and Fios1 News here.