See Under AARP events on left for Recent Trip to Albany
Legislative Report by Bob O'Connor
June 2019 Onchaarp
5/10/19 PRESENTATION BY
ROBERT O'CONNOR TO THE NYS
OFFICE FOR AGING REGARDING
THE PROPOSED N.Y.S. PLAN ON AGING FOR
2019-23 AT EAST SYRACUSE NY.
I am the incoming President of our local AARP Chapter,
formally known as the Arlene Bolton Onondaga Chapter
243. I am also quite familiar with the many years of
good work for older people by the NY State Office for
Aging and the Onondaga County Office for Aging. I
retired three times from our Onondaga County Office for
Aging. At this office, I was Program Director of
Community Services (where I developed many of our
local programs cooperatively with many local agencies).
I also later was the Coordinator of the HIICAP Program
and, still later, a long time volunteer with HIICAP. This
service totaled over 40 years.
I have reviewed the draft plan of NY SOFA. I am
particularly pleased to see your emphasis on the
following items on which I will focus today's remarks.
I. Continuing the efforts for Home and Community
Based Services. These services continue to be a passion
of mine. I still find examples where older people and
caregivers often benefit greatly from such services
PROVIDING they are connected to the aging services
network. Unfortunately, many others still are not aware
of such services. We really need to find different
mechanisms to “get the word out” to people before a
crisis occurs. The Institute for Caregivers, through our
county Office for Aging, is a good example of such a
We note – and AARP supported - the State Legislature
providing new funding for Home and Community Based
Services this year. However, I am concerned about one
portion that suggests people could purchase such
services from the Offices for Aging. I would hope this
does not detract the amount of services and hours
available from other parts of the regular services.
II. A strong awareness of important demographic
changes already occurring, plus projections of future
change. Such changes bring out a variety of challenges
but also opportunities for improvements or new ways to
advance. We all must be aware and willing to explore
these changes. AARP is very concerned about the large
increase in our population with Caregiving needs and
how such needs will be met.
III. I noted the inclusion of Age Friendly concepts
involving people of all ages in your plan. As you know,
AARP is strongly supportive of these concepts at all
levels: local, State and national.
IV. We're also pleased to see the new section you are
calling a “re-branding” campaign. The myth that getting
older – and I emphasize the older part – is all negative
and must be debunked. We've seen first-hand the many
contributions made by older generations. This
knowledge and experience that many have contributed
has generated strong foundations from which our society
has advanced and must continue to develop.
Collaborative efforts of NY SOFA and local offices of
aging, working with leaders in both older and younger
populations groups, should significantly help in this re-
branding effort. OR, as AARP's current Chief Executive
Officer, JoAnn Jenkins, has called it in her book
“Disrupt Aging”: placing the stress on finding and
working through new opportunities in aging!
Thank you for coming to the Syracuse area and holding this hearing for input by many concerned people.
Additional Legislative Information--June 2019
Major legislative action is needed to lower prescription
prices. Call or e-mail our legislators to support
important bills; Sen. May 315-478-8745, Sen.
Antonacci 315-428-7632, Assembly Members Barclay,
Finch, Hunter, Magnarelli or Stirpe at nyassembly.gov.
At the national level, support the CREATES A
(H1499). Call Rep Katko at 315-423-5657 or email him
Support is growing in Congress to expand Social
Security and increase benefits. Paying for this will
require ending the cap on FICA taxable income and
requiring the well to do to pay the same percent of their
income as the rest of us. This will pay for improved
benefits and keep the Social Security Trust Fund
solvent well into the future.
Bob O’Connor, Charlie Adams, Al Stirpe & Dona Clark.
On May 2, 2019, Chapter members Bob O’Connor,
Charlie Adams and Dona Clark met with State
Assemblyman Al Stirpe to discuss 2 bills:
S.141/A.6606 to stop drug price gouging, prevent
unjustifiable prescription price increases and to reduce
delays of cheaper generics. Also bill S.2849/A. 2969 to
stop changes of formulary coverage of drugs during the
Prescription drug prices have increased an average of
8.3 % (AARP), while the overall inflation rate rose
only 2.1% in 2018. One in six New Yorkers is age 65
or over and 14% lives in poverty. Our discussion
resulted in Assemblyman Stirpe deciding to co-sponsor
both above bills. Special Note: We just learned that the
Governor is also supporting AARP NY's suggestions in
the above bills.
We also discussed Bill S5100 (May)/A7209 (Bronson), an
act creating caregiver tax credit for individuals with a
gross income of up to $75,000 and couples with a gross
income of up to $150,000, not to exceed $3,500 or 50% of
the total amount expended. Caregivers spend an average
20% of their annual income on caregiving activities. This
well-deserved tax break saves all New Yorkers money by
keeping older adults at home and out of taxpayer funded
institutions. Assemblyman Stirpe agreed to co-sponsor
both these AARP supported bills.
Finally, we talked about the need to allocate $1 million
for an Office of the Independent Utility Consumer
Advocate (S.4399/A.1966) in NYS to fully represent
ratepayers for reliable and affordable essential utility
services. 44 other states have an Independent Utility
The Governor presently appoints a NYS utility consumer
advocate. Even though New York has the highest electric
rates in the continental United States, consumers have
fewer resources and less representation at the negotiating
table with utility companies. Essentially ratepayers are
paying their utility companies millions for the companies
to propose and defend their increases in consumer rates.
Demand action on the Independent Utility Consumer
Advocate (S.4399/A.1966) until we have a voice in utility
During the last month, our Legislative Advocacy Team
has held meetings with 5 state legislators from Onondaga
County. We met directly with NYS Senator Rachel May
(and her key staff members). She is supportive of most of
AARP’s issues. We also met with staffs of NYS Senator
Antonacci, Assemblyman Magnarelli and
Assemblywoman Hunter to discuss our major concerns of
the prescription difficulties and to leave relevant AARP
materials on the above issues.
If you would like to participate in future occasional
meetings with legislators, please consider joining this
team by contacting Legislative Coordinator Bob
O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315 637-3920.
Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act
John Driscoll, Marty Ours, Karen Russell, Senato Charles Schumer, Bob O’Connor and Pat Korba. Senator Schumer held a press conference in Syracuse TRACED Act S. 151 summary:
1) Broadens the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people who flout telemarketing restrictions.
2) Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to do so and the FCC has told the committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
3) Brings together the Dept. of Justice, FCC, FederalTrade Commission (FTC), Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of State, Dept. of Homeland Security, the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.
4) Requires voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
5) Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts.
Proposed NYS Election Law Changes
The NYS Legislature is considering bills to: • create 10 days of early voting prior to Election Day, including two full weekends;
• allow teens to pre-register before their 18th birthday;
• hold federal and state primaries on the same day;
• facilitate easy voter registration transfers within state;
• place limits on LLC campaign contributions and require increased transparency;
• allow same day voter registration;
• allow no excuse absentee ballots.
NYS Pays More Taxes Than It Gets Back in Funding
The Rockefeller Institute of Government reports:
New York's residents and businesses--which consistently send more revenue to the Federal government than any other state--continue to contribute more in taxes than the state receives back in Federal spending."
PBMS TO BE REGULATED
Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (PBMs) are middlemen who negotiate prices between drug manufacturers and pharmacies, adding in their own fees. Nationwide, PBMs are a $100 billion a year business and a substantial contributor to skyrocketing US prescription prices. Currently unregulated in NYS, Governor Cuomo has proposed laws that would control fees and drug substitutions. Let your state legislators know you support this legislation.
NAFTA 2.0. BENEFITS BIG PHARMA
Americans already pay the highest price in the world for prescription drugs – over 40% more than Canada and often three times that of many European countries. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 2.0) will guarantee that health care costs rise faster than ever, extending monopoly rights for pharmaceutical corporations to block generic competition and tie the hands of this and future Congresses to change the policies that lead to high drug prices. Tell Congressman Katko at (315) 423-5657 to remove Big Pharma’s massive giveaway in NAFTA 2.0.
NYS FMLA FOR CAREGIVERS
Under the NYS Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) employees continue to receive partial wages for time off to care for a close relative with a serious health condition, subject to the following:
1.To be eligible, you must have worked full time for 26 consecutive weeks or part time for 175 days in a 42-week period (these don’t need to be for the same employer);
2. A “serious health condition” is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either (a) inpatient care or (b) continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider;
3. “Close relatives” include spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren (note that this does not include siblings);
4. You can take up to 10 weeks per year at 55% of your average weekly wage up to leave pay of $746.41;
5.You can take the time all at once or individual days as needed;
6. You must notify your employer 30 days in advance of your intent to use this leave or as soon as practicable;
7. Your employer must continue your healthcare insur-
ance & you must to make your normal premium contribu-tions & other employee benefits must be continued;
8.When you return to work, your employer must offer you the same job or a comparable one;
9.This law also applies to maternity/paternity leave.
While similar, NYS FMLA differs from the federal law:
1.You can’t use NYS FMLA to care for yourself;
2. Federal FMLA applies only to companies with 50+ employees, but federal law only offers unpaid time off; NYS FMLA- for all employees, even the self-employed;
3. Under federal FMLA, costs paid by employers. For NYS FMLA, paid leave is reimbursed to employers by the NYSDOL insurance fund - employees pay in between $.75 to $1.65 per week through payroll deductions.
On January 1, 2020 paid leave will increase to 60% of average wages. On January 1, 2021 paid leave will increase to 67% of average wages and paid leave to 12 weeks per year. For more information, talk to your employer or visit: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov.
“TAX CUTS” – FOR WHOM?
Many Americans were shocked to no longer receive an income tax refund or even owe taxes this year. IRS reports tax refunds down 8% ($170 per filer) compared to last year. The number of people receiving a refund decreased by almost 25%.
The Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that by 2027, taxes will be higher for 53 percent of taxpayers, while the large tax breaks will go to the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers. A majority of Americans believe corporations don’t pay their fair share & support higher taxes on the wealthy.
WE NEED MORE AGE-FRIENDLY HOUSING
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s (JCHS) found that someone who is at least age 50 years heads the majority of U.S. households, 65 million. These households and the federal, state and local policymakers who wish to help them, face significant housing challenges related to accessibility (zero-step entryways and single-floor living), affordability (incomes decline as households age but housing costs rise) and inequality (racial wealth gaps).
Individuals & families & public, private & nonprofit sectors must meet these challenges. Federal government needs to fund more housing options of affordability, housing services & health care, making our communities more age-friendly as baby boomers age. 1 in 3 Americans is age 50 or older. By 2030, 1 in 5 will be age 65 or older.
Onondaga housing information (eligibility, waiting lists, etc.), call Syracuse Housing Authority at (315) 473-8400, or at Christopher Communities (315) 4245-1821.
School Tax Exemptions Changes
There have been changes in New York State law for your 2019 Partial Tax Exemption for Real Property of Senior Citizens. You must apply separately for each exemption.
Enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP) to receive the Enhanced STAR exemption if your income is $86,000 to qualify. Also file either a first-time or renewal application for the Enhanced STAR exemption for the 2019-20-school year with your town assessor.
Deadline for applications is March 1, 2019. Information can be obtained from your local town assessor, the NYS Tax Dept at 518-457-2036 or at www.tax.ny.gov.
Whether you are a seasoned volunteer or just looking to see how you can add your voice to advocacy for the 50+ for the first time, PLEASE CONSIDER JOINING OUR LEGISLATIVE ACTION TEAM. CONTACT BOB O'CONNOR AT: ROBTOC@MSN.COM OR PH: 315-637-3920.
Our Albany advocacy team and our local Volunteer team will share legislative priorities, opportunities to get involved, and training on effective and fun advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
we work with Randy Hoak.
AARP New York
Associate State Director – Community Outreach
435 E. Henrietta Road
Rochester, NY 14620
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR AARP IN 2019?
DIAL 877-209-3531. (No Pin Required)
FOR YOUR PLANNING PURPOSES, TWO CALLS ARE HELD EACH MONTH: THE 2ND THURSDAY AT 2PM ET AND THE LAST THURSDAY AT 7PM ET.
THE NUMBER TO DIAL 877-209-3531.
JOIN US-- WE SHARE INFORMATION ON A RANGE OF ISSUES, ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES FROM AARP.
HAVE QUESTIONS?CALL THE VOLUNTEER HELPLINE AT 1-866-740-7719 OR EMAIL VOLUNTEER@AARP.ORG
Watch Here for News in 2019
REP. JOHN KATKO: WWW.KATKO.HOUSE.GOV.
SEN. SCHUMER: WWW.SCHUME.SENATE.GOV/CONTACT/CONTACT_CHUCK.CFM
SEN. GILLIBRAND: WWW.GILLIBRAND.SENATE.GOV/CONTACT
local State Legislators at work for You
robert antonacci, Senator Dist 50 315-428-7632
Rachel May, Senator Dist 53 315-478-8745
William Magnarelli, Assembly Dist 129 315-428-9651
William A. Barclay, Assembly Dist 120 315-598-5185
Albert Stirpe , Assembly Dist 127 315-452-1115
Gary D. Finch, Assembly Dist 126 315-255-3045
Pamela Hunter, Assembly 128 315-449-9536
At the NY State level, we will be working with our legislators to pass the following:
-----Caregiving (two parts): for funding increases that assist family/relatives/others who help with difficult tasks that allow
-----people to remain at home longer (and complement the Older Americans Act) and a new bill [the CARE ACT] that would work with hospitals to properly instruct care providers in homecare (before patients leave the hospital);
-----Development of a "Work and Save" plan. This would allow small businesses to establish a retirement plan, that's portable, for their employees without burdening either side.
At both levels, there is the need for continuing a strong advocacy presence, plus education of legislators on the importance of these issues for all our citizens. If you can help out occasionally - even with a phone call to a legislator - please contact Bob O'Connor, our local Legislative Advocacy Coordinator at: email@example.com or by phone at 315-637-3920. Thank you.
If you want to contact your representatives
Email Congress - see addresses below:
Rep. John Katko: www.katko.house.gov.
Sen. Schumer: www.schume.senate.gov/contact/contact_chuck.cfm
Sen. Gillibrand: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact
- For your own additional information go to: aarp.org;
- Phone numbers:
- Representative John Katko: 315- 423-5657
- Senator Schumer: 315-423-5471
- Senator Gillibrand: 315-448-0470
- Want to get NY Legislative Advocacy Action by email, sign up by clicking on http://action.aarp.org/ny_advacacy
Chapter members working with other community people for the Safe Streets campaign.