Bill To Mandate
‘NY Rising’ Reports

Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Senator Thomas D. Croci (R-Sayville) to require quarterly reporting to the Legislature of unpaid disaster funds for Superstorm Sandy victims has passed the Assembly. Having already passed the Senate, this legislation will now be sent to the governor’s desk (Assembly bill A7204; Senate bill S4694). This bill is the first of its kind to mandate oversight of the NY Rising program.

“Getting storm victims home and out of debt is a top priority of mine. This bipartisan bill will help expedite that process,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “It is the first of its kind and I look forward to seeing the results it produces. This issue transcends party affiliation and I am encouraged by the Assembly and Senate’s ability to work together in assisting storm victims.”

The legislation requires the governor, in cooperation with the commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the executive director of the governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, to produce and deliver to the Legislature a quarterly report detailing the status of all Sandy claims for disaster assistance pending before, or being assisted by, the governor and/or the New York Rising program.

This bill was drafted in response to the existence of hundreds of Sandy victims who are still awaiting the disaster funds to which they are entitled. As the third anniversary of the superstorm approaches, it is imperative that swift action be taken to bring residents home.

Bill To Reduce Income-Tax Burden Passes Assembly

Legislation (A7592) sponsored and championed by Assemblyman Kaminsky to grant tax relief to many Superstorm Sandy victims has been passed in the New York State Assembly.

“With many families still struggling financially, this legislation is crucial to address the fact that homeowners were forced to use and, in some cases, deplete their retirement savings to make repairs and move back home,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “This caused an increase in income tax for individuals and families already suffering, which was completely unfair.”

The legislation would provide tax relief to homeowners who withdrew funds from certain retirement savings accounts in order to repair or rebuild Sandy-damaged homes. If approved by the Senate and governor, the legislation would allow homeowners to retroactively reduce their taxable income by the amount withdrawn from their retirement account.

In order to be eligible for this state income-tax adjustment, homeowners who used retirement funds to rebuild would have to meet the following criteria: (1) own a primary residence severely damaged by Sandy; (2) live in a presidentially declared disaster zone; and (3) have withdrawn money from retirement funds after October 29, 2012. Eligible retirement plans, as listed by the Internal Revenue Code, include the following:

-   Employee’s trust that is exempt from taxes

-   Individual retirement accounts

-   Individual retirement annuities (other than an endowment contract)

-   Qualified trusts (401(k))

-   Annuity plans and annuity contracts

-   Eligible deferred-compensation plans maintained by an employer

-   Roth accounts in certain circumstances

“I am grateful for Assemblyman Kaminsky’s legislation to provide tax relief for those who were forced to access their retirement funds to pay for repairs,” said Tim Kelly of Long Beach. “I was one of the many homeowners who had to make the awful choice of liquidating my 401(k) hard-earned savings. This legislation will give me peace of mind that I’ll still be able to rebuild my home and afford to retire.”

“My community has suffered enough from Superstorm Sandy, and increased income tax would add insult to injury,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “I am pleased that this bill passed the Assembly and will continue to advocate for its passage in the Senate to give homeowners much-needed relief.”

Closing The
Flood-Insurance Loophole

Legislation (A7537) sponsored and championed by Assemblyman Kaminsky on behalf of storm victims unanimously passed the Assembly, taking New York State a step closer to closing an insurance loophole that increases costs for owners of storm-damaged homes.

“After Superstorm Sandy, some homeowners were initially told that because the storm was not classified as a hurricane, their homeowner’s insurance windstorm deductible did not apply, and the homeowner was therefore responsible for the entire cost of damage attributed to wind,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “Anyone who denies that Superstorm Sandy was a hurricane is simply wrong, and homeowners should not have to suffer through such confusion and last-minute insurance surprises after losing so much already in the storm.”

Most homeowner’s insurance policies offer windstorm deductibles, which require a certain percentage or dollar amount of homeowner contribution to damage incurred by wind and then cover the excess costs. A deductible is applied when a “triggering event” occurs, such as a federally declared hurricane or other natural disaster.

However, there is currently no uniform definition in New York State for a “triggering event,” thus creating discrepancies in coverage between different policies. For example, neighbors on the same block equally affected by Superstorm Sandy received different determinations on whether the storm triggered their deductible into effect or not. Assemblyman Kaminsky’s legislation would mandate a uniform definition for a “triggering event” so that all policyholders would receive coverage from their windstorm deductible.

Further, deductible percentages can be misleading, as they can range from 1 to 7.5 percent of the value of the home, not of the cost of damage incurred. This clause is not always clearly defined or made easy to understand, which means the required homeowner contribution before receiving an insurance payout can be much higher than initially expected. Assemblyman Kaminsky’s bill would ensure that this clause is made clearly known and understandable to all policyholders and prospective buyers.

“Insurance companies are supposed to provide relief after a storm, not more stress. This legislation would ensure that all families receive proper coverage after a windstorm, and it would greatly improve a consumer’s ability to understand their policy and make informed choices,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “I fought hard for this legislation’s passage in the Assembly and will continue to advocate for all families affected by Superstorm Sandy.”

Pols Included In
‘40 Under 40’ Rising Stars

According to City & State, “This year’s honorees include a crop of fresh-faced Assembly members, some of the best communications people at the state Capitol, policy wonks who do unglamorous grunt work, and some successful lobbyists. But all of them stood out to the colleagues who nominated them.” The Five Towns area is proud to have our own Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky and political advocate Jeffrey Leb amongst the honorees.

Flatbush Activists Meet Borough President

Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition (FJCC) leaders met on Sunday with Borough President Eric Adams on a slew of timely issues affecting the borough’s growing Orthodox Jewish community.

The Albany battle to achieve tax credits for yeshiva parents was high on the busy agenda, as the community’s number one priority. As political leader of Brooklyn, with the state’s largest Assembly delegation, it is imperative for activists to bring the borough president voice to conversation and ask him to be publicly supportive and encourage the borough’s large assembly delegation to stand with the needs of the non-public-school community. Brooklyn has the most yeshiva students of any county in the state and a sizable Catholic and parochial-school population. A working plan was developed to assist the massive efforts in the few days remaining to get a bill passed in the Assembly before the session ends.

Josh Mehlman, FJCC chairman, expressed the community’s sincere appreciation to the borough president for his willingness to become personally involved in this vital issue.


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