Winter 2022: Legislative Guide

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Legislative Guide

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President's Page NYSAC OFFICERS Hon. Martha C. Sauerbrey Tioga County President Hon. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County President-Elect Michael E. Zurlo Clinton County First Vice President Hon. Daniel P. McCoy Albany County Second Vice President Hon. John F. Marren Ontario County Immediate Past President

BOARD MEMBERS Hon. Luis A. Alvarez, Sullivan County Hon. Steven Bellone, Suffolk County Hon. Benjamin Boykin II Westchester County Mr. Philip R. Church, Oswego County Hon. Eric L. Adams, New York City Mr. Richard R. House, Wayne County Hon. Beth A. Hunt, Hamilton County Hon. Margaret M. Kennedy, Otsego County Hon. Mark C. Poloncarz, Erie County Dr. Kevin Watkins, Cattaraugus County


reetings to my fellow county leaders, as well as to our partners in and out of state government. I am pleased to report for the first time in these pages as your president, that the state of our association is strong, and our future is bright. Once again, all 57 counties and the City of New York are members of NYSAC, and their active participation helps us fight for the concerns of all our counties and the New Yorkers we serve. This association has never been more vital to its members. Though the founders of this organization could never have imagined what a 21st century global health pandemic would look like, they did envision how vital it was to have a place for county leaders to help one another, share best practices, interact with state leaders, and help one another get what we need to protect our communities. Our advocacy efforts— with the state and with our partners at the federal government, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—have resulted in critical wins for counties, including historic federal funding, as well as new state laws, policies, and proposals that will help us better serve our residents and support our local businesses. I am also pleased to report that the state of counties is strong. Despite the challenges of fighting the pandemic and weathering the economic storm that came with it, our counties have been boosted by federal ARPA funding and rebounding sales tax revenues that will help us recover and invest in the future of our communities and the programs and services we provide.

That’s not to say that we don’t face new challenges—because we do. Retirements and the Great Resignation are making it difficult to keep and attract new county workers. Inflation is making the cost of our operations more expensive, and it is squeezing the residents and taxpayers in our communities. Our local health departments and the workers who have been at the front lines of fighting the pandemic are tired and depleted. Our counties are resilient, and we are prepared to turn these challenges into opportunities. Counties are using federal funding to help retain and rebuild our workforce. We are investing in projects that will strengthen our infrastructure and help residents connect to highspeed internet service. After two years of the COVID pandemic, your work in county government is more important than ever, and I appreciate everything that you have done to serve your county, your communities, and your association. I look forward to seeing you at the NYSAC Legislative Conference in Albany this March and working with you throughout the year to keep our association strong, our counties vibrant, and our New York the best in the nation.

Marte Sauerbrey NYSAC President

PARLIAMENTARIANS Hon. Herman Geist, Esq., Westchester County Hon. A. Douglas Berwanger, Wyoming County

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Director's Note NYSAC STAFF (partial listing) Stephen J. Acquario, Esq. Executive Director Karen Catalfamo Office/Financial Manager Patrick Cummings, Esq. Counsel Jackie Dederick Records Manager Patricia Gettings Assistant to the Director Ryan Gregoire Legislative Director Alexandra LaMonte Legislative/Policy Coordinator Mark LaVigne Deputy Director Dave Lucas Director of Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Juanita Munguia Marketing Specialist Tom Oldfather Communications Manager Kate Pierce Multimedia Specialist Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training Kaylyn Vazquez Legislative/Communications Intern


he New York State Association of Counties is nearly 100 years old. We were established by county officials in 1925 as a forum to help them better serve their communities. We still serve this purpose today. We are a nonprofit bipartisan association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. With 2022 in full swing, NYSAC is working hard to uphold the mission to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve counties and the local public officials who serve the residents in your communities. NYSAC is the County Voice in Albany and Washington. Our staff members work hard to develop programs and services that support your day-today work in county government. We represent your county’s interests before state and federal government agencies. We also provide advice, research, and technical support on issues of concern to the full range of member county officials. We also operate the only training program specifically designed for county leaders. The County Government Institute (CGI) is a nonprofit organization jointly developed by NYSAC and Cornell University that offers a comprehensive educational certificate program for county officials. CGI provides training workshops designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of serving as a local leader at the regional level.

Though NYSAC has existed for nearly 100 years, we are also a young organization in our membership. Just this year we are welcoming nearly 200 newly elected county officials across the state. These are legislators, supervisors, executives, treasurers, comptrollers, sheriffs, coroners, and DAs. We wish them all well in their public service and we welcome them to the NYSAC family. This Winter edition of the NYSAC News magazine is focused on our advocacy efforts for this year’s State Legislative Session, including the development of the SFY 2023 State Budget, which is now being negotiated ahead of the April 1st deadline. The articles in this issue include an abridged version of NYSAC’s 2022 Legislative Program, the state budget scorecard, and updates on important and timely issues facing our membership. We hope you will find it a useful resource that you can return to throughout the legislative session. I am proud to serve as your Association’s Executive Director and I look forward to continuing to work with you throughout the year to support the work of county leaders across this great state.

Stephen J. Acquario, Esq. NYSAC Executive Director

NYSAC News |










NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties at the federal and state levels. President Hon. Martha Sauerbrey Publisher Stephen J. Acquario Managing Editor Mark F. LaVigne Editor Tom Oldfather Designer Kate Pierce Advertising Staff Juanita Munguia 8

NYSAC News | Winter 2022





Advertise with NYSAC Contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or Published 3 times a year by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), the NYSAC News is the official publication of NYSAC, a non-profit, municipal association serving the 57 counties of New York State and the City of New York with its five boroughs for over 90 years. NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties at the federal and state levels.


515 Broadway, Suite 402, Albany, New York 12207 Phone • (518) 465-1473 Fax • (518) 465-0506 Send submissions to Submissions should be 750 to 1,000 words and include a high resolution photo of the author­. All submissions­are subject to editing for clarity, content and/or length. The advertisements and articles in NYSAC News in no way imply support or endorsement­by NYSAC for any of the products, services or messages conveyed herein. ©2022 New York State Association of Counties

Table of Contents Volume 44, Issue 1 Winter 2022



Advocating on Behalf of New York’s Counties in 2022


New York State Legislative Session Calendar


Keep Local Taxes Local


Key to Reducing Costs & Improving Outcomes


2022 Key County Priorities


Supporting NYS Public Health Infrastructure via the PREPARE Act


Mapping New York’s Broadband & How You Can Play a Role


A Decisive Year for Environmental Action


Equity and Engagement in Erie County Climate Task Force


Advancing Equity on the Frontlines of the COVID Pandemic



A Missed Opportunity on Mandate Relief


American Rescue Plan FAQ


Reviving a Healthcare System in Critical Condition


SFY 2023 Executive Budget Proposal County Impact Scorecard


Challenges and Priorities


Hidden Heroes and Casualties of the COVID-19 Pandemic



A Cybersecurity Primer for Local Leaders

What Will it Take to Snag a Marijuana Business License


Shining A Light on Veterans


Last Look at Local Laws of 2021

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Access to Broadband is About Equity, Quality of Life and Economic Development

NYSAC News |



Advocating on Behalf of New York’s Counties in 2022 By Ryan Gregoire, NYSAC Legislative Director


YSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. To further that mission, the NYSAC Legislative Team works to analyze legislation, develop lobbying action plans, and coordinate NYSAC’s Legislative Agenda to advocate for counties with a unified voice. Each year, the NYSAC Legislative Team follows a timeline of budget and legislative work to be accomplished on behalf of our members. While the timeline typically aligns with the State Budget process and legislative calendar, this year will be a little bit different. During the 2021 Fall Seminar, the 12 NYSAC standing committees developed, discussed, and adopted a series of resolutions that became the basis of NYSAC’s 2022 legislative program, including our legislative agenda, fact sheets, and whitepapers. In fact, this year, NYSAC revamped the website to be more user friendly, and in doing so, created a new advocacy landing page as a one-stop shop for all NYSAC policy content. We didn’t stop at just redesigning the website. The legislative and communications team spearheaded an ambitious overhaul of the county advocacy platform. The new legislative program for 2022 has been redesigned to make it easier to understand and is broken down by issue areas impacting county government service delivery. This new program will make it easier and more efficient for county leaders to advocate for county priorities, and for lawmakers to understand the county perspective. Once finalized, NYSAC expands on the legislative program to provide supporting material and data for each item. We then schedule meetings with representatives from the New York State Division on Budget (DOB) to share our members’ budgetrelated requests as well as meet with senior leadership in both chambers of the State Legislature.


NYSAC News | Winter 2022

JANUARY January marks the beginning of the New York State Legislative Session. The Session begins the first Wednesday after the first Monday of the New Year. The opening is usually marked by the Governor's delivery of the "State of the State Message" in Albany. In a return to the historic delivery of this address, Governor Hochul spoke to New Yorkers from the Assembly chamber — “the people’s house” — in the Capitol building. This message outlines the priorities and programs the Governor wants the Legislature to address during the year ahead. The Governor must submit her Executive Budget proposal to the Legislature, along with the related appropriation, revenue, and budget bills, by the third week in January (or by February 1st in a gubernatorial election year). Once the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal is released, NYSAC’s Legislative Team identifies key issues for counties within, or excluded from, the Executive Budget proposal. The Legislative Team then develops a lobbying plan for each issue. This involves analyzing the bills, obtaining county feedback and data, and organizing strategic meetings with the Legislature, staff, DOB, and the Governor’s Office. If there are any major county-involved items within (or excluded from) the Executive Budget proposal but not part of our Legislative Platform, the Legislative Team drafts resolutions to be presented to the proper standing committee during the Legislative Conference in March. While the budget process continues, new bills are introduced daily by members of the Legislature. The Legislative Team reviews daily introductions, reviews committee reports, and responds accordingly with memos in support or opposition.

FEBRUARY – MARCH At the conclusion of the NYSAC Legislative Conference, the Legislative Team sends the adopted resolutions to the Governor, Senate and Assembly leadership, each member of the Legislature, agency heads, congressional membership and any/all appropriate staff.

County Conversations Podcast Tackles Timely and Pressing Issues Impacting Counties

During February, the Legislature creates Legislative Budget Standing Committees and commences Joint Legislative Budget Hearings. The Legislative Team prepares testimony to be presented at the Local Government Hearing and coordinates meeting with the Senate and Assembly leadership and staff. The Governor generally releases 30-Day Amendments to the Executive Budget proposal bills by the end of February, depending on when initial bills are introduced. Once the 30Day Amendments are released, the Senate and Assembly release their own budget proposals. The Legislative Team identifies key issues for counties within or excluded from the legislature’s budget proposals and revises the lobbying plan for each issue as needed.

APRIL – JUNE State law requires the budget to be passed by April 1. Upon adoption of the budget, the Legislative Team immediately prepares a full analysis to provide to NYSAC members. Budget priorities that were not completed in the enacted budget are transitioned into non-budget legislative priority items. The Legislative Team continues their lobbying efforts for the Legislature on counties’ key non-budget priorities. As the session concludes during the month of June, the Legislative Team assembles analyses of all legislation that has passed both houses and measures each bill’s impact on individual member counties. Once the analysis is complete, the Legislative Team compiles the “Passed Both Houses” report, which is sent to NYSAC members. This report explains all the key items from the enacted budget along with a description of bills that have an impact on counties. Our team continues to update the report through the end of the calendar year. Once bills are transmitted to the Governor’s office, NYSAC drafts letters to the Governor’s Counsel to report counties’ support or opposition to the pending legislation. While the ongoing COVID-19 means the state will continue its virtual hybrid approach to governing for some time, the NYSAC team will continue to engage with staff, state elected officials, and policy leadership. This year will present an historic opportunity for the state to shore up reserves, make whole on their prior financial commitments, and look to the future for areas in need of state investments. NYSAC will continue to remain your organization representing the county voice in Albany and Washington, D.C.

Also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify Visit to tune into NYSAC's weekly podcast series. Episodes are released each Monday morning to kick start the week ahead of you. Each episode features discussions with leaders from across the state that are focused on providing innovative solutions to local issues. Episodes range from 20 minutes long to up to an hour long. You can listen in any order you would like, any time you like. If there are any topics concerning county government that you would like to hear us discuss – or join as a guest to discuss – please email our Multimedia Specialist Kate Pierce ( to turn your idea into soundwaves.

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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

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New York State Legislative Session Calendar January — June 2022 The New York State legislative session calendar establishes a schedule for the 2022 legislative session and provides dates important to the legislative process. The session calendar is intended to afford Members flexibility in conducting legislative business in Albany and planning activities within their home districts. The session calendar will foster orderly and timely consideration of legislation. Unforeseen events may require modification of the session calendar.



2 9 16 23 30

3 10 17 24 31

4 11 18 25

5 12 19 26

6 13 20 27



6 13 20 27

7 14 21 28

MARCH T W T 1 2 3 8 9 10 15 16 17 22 23 24 29 30 31

M 2 9 16 23 30

MAY T W T 3 4 5 10 11 12 17 18 19 24 25 26 31

S 1 8 15 22 29

7 14 21 28

F 4 11 18 25

F 6 13 20 27

S 1 8 15 22 29

6 13 20 27

FEBRUARY M T W T F 1 2 3 4 7 8 9 10 11 14 15 16 17 18 21 22 23 24 25 28




3 10 17 24

4 11 18 25

5 12 19 26


S 5 12 19 26

S 7 14 21 28



5 12 19 26

6 13 20 27

6 13 20 27

7 14 21 28

JUNE T W T 1 2 7 8 9 14 15 16 21 22 23 28 29 30

S 5 12 19 26

F 1 8 15 22 29

S 2 9 16 23 30

F 3 10 17 24

S 4 11 18 25

January 5

2022 Legislative Session convenes

February 21 Presidents’ Day

January 17

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

April 1

Beginning of new Fiscal Year

January 18

Final Day for Submission of Executive Budget

May 30

Memorial Day

Indicates session day

NYSAC News |


Keep Local Taxes Local By Dave Lucas, NYSAC Director of Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs


n the SFY 2019 budget, New York State began a troubling and unprecedented practice of intercepting and diverting local sales taxes to fund state programs; first to backfill $59 million in state cuts to the AIM local government assistance program, and again in the SFY 2021 budget to finance a temporary state controlled $250 million per year distressed health facilities fund in response to the COVID pandemic. This practice of funding state programs with local sales taxes is counterproductive, undermines transparency and accountability to taxpayers and results in highly regressive tax policy. The primary result is that it increases pressure on property taxes, compromises the delivery and availability of local services, and has cost local taxpayers $677 million to date.

One Step Forward… Thankfully, the Governor’s SFY 2023 budget proposes to reverse diversion of local sales taxes for AIM-related payments and returns fiscal responsibility for this program back to the state. County elected officials and local taxpayers are thankful for the Governor’s partnership in addressing this issue.

Ten Reasons Why We Should Stop Diverting Local Taxes for State Spending Purposes 1.

The Distressed Provider Assistance Program was meant to be a temporary program to address emergency needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


As of January 26, 2022, nearly two full years into the pandemic and through multiple waves of COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, no funding has been provided to health facilities through the Distressed Provider Assistance Fund despite the state having diverted $500 million in local sales tax for this program. In fact, on March 31, 2021, the last day of the state fiscal year, the state moved $250 million out of the Distressed Provider Assistance Fund and deposited it into the state general fund.


For more than 50 years, aiding distressed health facilities has been a state and federal responsibility. This policy is nothing more than a cost shift from the state to local governments.

…One Step Back But with the good, comes some bad. The Executive Budget also proposes to make a temporary COVID emergency program that was intended to help fiscally distressed health facilities through the unknowns of the pandemic a permanent program using $250 million in local taxes to pay for it ($50 million from counties and $200 million from New York City). The state should sunset the diversion of local sales tax to support state spending for a distressed health facilities pool as scheduled (March 31, 2022), or end it no later than the expiration of the federal public health emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding state programs with local sales taxes • increases pressure on property taxes, • compromises the delivery and availability of local services, • and has cost local taxpayers $677 million to date. 14

NYSAC News | Winter 2022


Local governments do not have the same revenue generating capacity to support this type of an initiative. The state has a much broader tax base and far more progressive tax code that can call on high income individuals and multibillion corporations to generate revenues. New York counties have a much narrower tax base and must rely on more regressive taxes such as property and sales.


Federal COVID pandemic relief funds provided unprecedented support to New York’s health facilities and health care providers to the tune of $13.8 billion in federal assistance, with $30 billion of $175 billion authorized still to be distributed. These federal payments replaced 87 percent of the lost revenues for health facilities in New York through the first half of 2020 during the height of the pandemic.


The state increased fiscal distress for health facilities at the start of the pandemic by cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to health facilities and providers. Some programs that were cut were specifically designed to help distressed health facilities, including across-the-board reimbursement rate cuts, elimination of Enhanced Safety Net Funding Pools, elimination of equity funding pools to facilities, reduced indigent care pools, among others.

NYSAC advocates at the local, state, and federal levels on the myriad of important issues that impact counties and county taxpayers across New York State. Our expert staff works diligently to provide county leaders with thorough and up-to-the-minute information about state legislative action, NYSAC advocacy efforts, and the national issues impacting our counties. To learn more about NYSAC's State Advocacy, Committees and Resolutions, Federal Advocacy, and Policy Reports, visit

Even with these cuts in place the state still provided no funding to health facilities during COVID from the distressed health facilities fund. 7.

The Governor’s proposed SFY 2023 budget is restoring some of the state’s prior cuts and investing more than $10 billion in state and federal matching funds to help the health care industry, eliminating the need for more local taxes to support state funding responsibilities.


Diverting local sales tax increases pressure on property taxes. Sales tax is the number one revenue source for most counties and the primary local revenue to support local services, especially for frontline workers responding to the pandemic. The sales tax is also the number one local revenue for counties to keep property taxes lower, including for hundreds of cities, towns and villages across the state that receive a share of the county sales tax.


Counties and New York City already support health providers in need by paying $8 billion annually to support state Medicaid program benefits and services. Diverting more local taxes to replace state resources and responsibilities is unnecessary.

10. Keeping local taxes local is the best way possible to ensure accountability and transparency to the taxpayer and we should not abandon that principle. It’s true that as a state and nation we are in uncharted waters as the pandemic, and its economic side effects continue to evolve. But it is equally true that the state’s finances have never been stronger. What better time to chart a new course toward fairness and respect for local control over local taxes.

NYSAC News |


Key to Reducing Costs & Improving Outcomes Understanding the Limits of Competency Restoration Services By Katherine G. Alonge-Coons, LCSW-R, Chair, NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors Commissioner of Mental Health – Rensselaer County


ompetency restoration is the process used when an individual charged with a crime is found by a court not to understand the charges against them or to lack the capacity to participate in their own defense, typically due to an active mental illness or an intellectual disability. An incompetent criminal defendant cannot be tried for or plead to an offense unless and until they can be restored to competency.

The statutory requirement of payment by the counties to the state has been in place for over three decades and has resulted in county governments incurring tens of millions of dollars’ worth of expenses. Additionally, there is no requirement for the state to consult with their county mental health departments on treatment planning, leaving all decision-making to the state’s behavioral health providers.

To be considered restored to competency, a defendant must be able to consult with his or her defense attorney and have a rational and factual understanding of the legal proceedings. People who enter the restoration process often have complex needs, which may include behavioral health conditions, cognitive and neurodevelopmental impairments, and often, an undiagnosed history of traumatic experiences.

While the majority of these “730” defendants can generally be restored within 90-150 days, there have been several cases where defendants have been kept in restoration for periods of 3, 6 or even 10 years. Since the full cost of restorations services - approximately $1,000 per day - is charged to the county, these excessive confinements are extremely wasteful of the county’s limited resources. The situation is exacerbated by the inability of counties to have any control regarding restoration services as well as a willingness on the part of courts, defense attorneys and DAs to allow defendants to languish in a forensic mental health facility rather than moving them to an appropriate mental health outpatient service or risking prison time.

While a component of restoration services may include some mental health treatment, the main purpose of these services is to prepare a mentally ill or developmentally disabled person to participate in their own defense. This is different from the goal of mental health treatment, which is intended to lead to recovery and the ability to lead an otherwise normal life. Judges who believe they are helping a mentally ill defendant to get “better” by ordering restoration are operating under the mistaken belief that they are providing the defendant with traditional mental health treatment. Defendants involved in the competency restoration system in New York State are commonly called “730s,” referring to the state’s Criminal Procedure Law Section 730, which governs the process. It is estimated that between one-quarter and twothirds of all defendants committed for competency restoration under Section 730 end up going through the system multiple times on the same charge — hundreds of people each year. Under current law, counties are required to pay for the full cost incurred for restoration services for those defendants admitted to state operated mental health facilities. Payments are made to the state, and in turn, directed to the General Fund.


NYSAC News | Winter 2022

Additionally, these lengthy confinements have been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case of Jackson v. Indiana, the court held that states may not indefinitely confine criminal defendants solely on the basis of incompetence to stand trial. If there is no such expectation for restoration, the case should be converted to a civil psychiatric admission, which would remove the burden of payment from the county, or allow the defendant to return to the community hopefully with proper supports. The time is now for the state to recognize the drain this continues to have on county budgets, local tax levies and county mental health resources. The NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors seeks to amend the archaic statutory framework that governs competency restoration. My colleagues and I, along with our partners at NYSAC, fully support the passage of S.7461 (Brouk)/A.8402 (Gunther) in this year’s Legislative Session.


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2022 KEY COUNTY PRIORITIES The annual County Legislative Program includes a series of reform proposals developed by county delegates, with a goal of making New York a better, stronger and economically viable state in which to live, work, and raise a family. The program includes proposed policies and legislation to restore local control over sales tax, invest in public health, and help counties deliver services with improved efficiency and lower cost to local taxpayers. The components of the Legislative Program reflect the need for specific state or federal action.

Read the full 2022 Legislative Program at: NYSAC News |


SFY 23 & 2022 Legislative Session Top County Priorities End County Sales Taxes for State Aid to Municipalities (AIM) The state has provided aid to municipalities for many decades through the AIM program. Most of the aid goes to cities, but towns and villages also receive annual funding shares. The SFY 2019 budget cut the AIM local government assistance program by $59 million and then backfilled this funding cut by diverting $59 million in county sales tax revenues annually to state coffers. This highly regressive tax policy puts increased pressure on property taxes and should be repealed. Repeal Part PPP, Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2019.

Sunset County Sales Tax Diversion for Distressed Health Facilities The SFY 2021 budget enacted a temporary two-year program that diverts $250 million annually in local sales tax from counties ($50 million) and New York City ($200 million). With the declared public health emergency ending in June of 2021, and hospitals already receiving significant support from federal funds, this unprecedented diversion of local revenue serves little purpose and should sunset as scheduled at the end of SFY 2022. Ensure Part ZZ, Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2020 sunsets in 2022, as scheduled.

Make Counties Whole for Federal Enhanced Medicaid Funds Counties and New York City are owed well over $1 billion in federal Medicaid savings that have been withheld by the state. The last reconciliation of these funds was completed for SFY 2015-16 costs. The state must fully reimburse counties and New York City for four years of federally funded Medicaid savings that have only been partially reimbursed by the state.

Invest in Local Health Departments The COVID-19 pandemic taught the world how vital local health departments are to keeping our communities safe from infectious disease. It also exposed how chronic underinvestment left us more vulnerable than we need to be. We must invest to be better prepared for the next pandemic. Allocate unrestricted, flexible funding to local health departments and restore Article 6 reimbursement to NYC to 36 percent, the same rate as the rest of the state.

Reform the Treatment of Individuals Deemed Incompetent to Stand Trial Individuals have the right to mental competency prior to standing trial, but the current system places undue and often unrealistic burdens on localities that serve neither patients nor taxpayers. Reform CPL Part 730 by enacting A.8402 (Gunther) S.7461 (Brouk). 20

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Supporting NYS Public Health Infrastructure via the PREPARE Act By Sarah Ravenhall, MHA, CHES, Executive Director, NYSACHO


ublic health professionals from the 58 local health departments throughout New York State have been at the forefront of our state’s local COVID response since 2020. They have championed critical response activities alongside county leaders and elected officials within their respective jurisdictions. Despite the exponential increase in responsibility, they have been charged with over the past decade, local health departments have not seen a commensurate increase in Article 6 state aid funding for at least eight years. Led by the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) and NYSAC, a diverse group of organizations have joined to call for the passage of the “PREPARE Act”—a series of funding initiatives necessary to stabilize New York’s overburdened public health system. The “Public Health Reinvestment and Emergency Pandemic Adaptability, Readiness and Efficiency (PREPARE) Act” calls for the immediate infusion of $216.5 million in state funding critically necessary to sustain six core public health activities, including: communicable disease control; chronic disease prevention; emergency preparedness; environmental health; maternal and child health; and community health assessment. Partners joining NYSACHO and NYSAC to call for the passage of the PREPARE Act include; New York State Public Health Association; American Academy of Pediatrics, NYSAAP, District II, Chapters 1,2 & 3; New York League of Conservation Voters;


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Council of School Superintendents; School Administrators Association of New York State; Community Health Care Association of New York State; American Cancer Society; Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning; Healthy Capital District; NYS Academy of Family Physicians; Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy; Lead Free Kids New York Coalition; and the Commission on the Public’s Health System. While many factors have combined to destabilize the public health system, the most damaging elements have been the aggregation of 10 years of stagnant appropriations and state budget cuts to New York’s 58 local health departments (LHD) totaling more than $150 million, and an explosion of local public health department responsibilities stemming from the COVID pandemic and numerous state mandated public health programs. The impact of these factors has been profound, creating a shortage of public health workers in every corner of the state, and generating stagnation of critically important public health services. According to the Public Health Center for Innovations and the de Beaumont Foundation, local health departments nationally need approximately 54,000 new staff to be able to provide adequate infrastructure and a minimum package of public health services. According to data from the New York State Department of Health, the number of full-time LHD staff working on core services declined by 7% between 2015 and 2020.

When applying this formula to New York, 90% of LHDs do not have enough staff to provide basic foundational public health services to their communities. In total, more than 1,000 additional full-time staff are needed statewide to provide an adequate infrastructure and a minimum package of public health services. These LHD staff shortages will only worsen in the next few years due to both current and an anticipated wave of staff retirements. A recent study by SUNY Oneonta, Bassett Healthcare Network Research Institute and NYSACHO found that many LHD staff are fatigued and demoralized due to staff shortages, growth of responsibilities and the impact of adverse public reaction to the pandemic. In fact, 14 of the state’s 58 local health department leaders have left their jobs in recent months due to a variety of these factors and others.

Over the same time, we will be working with all policy makers to remain focused on other critical public health threats that demand our attention and additional investment, in particular: rates of opioid overdose; elevated blood lead levels in children; chronic disease; and threats to our public water supplies. The imperative to invest in the health of our communities has never been more clear. Please add your voice to support the adoption of all elements of the PREPARE Act. To learn more, go to: PREPARE-Act-Canva_12.22.21.pdf.

Governor Hochul’s 2022-23 Executive Budget proposal takes a meaningful first step to address these critical issues by including $77.1 million for Article 6 activities and associated fringe costs. The proposal is a victory for public health and local governments, but it is not complete. We will be working with the Assembly and Senate to ensure that the Governor’s Article 6 proposal is included in the final budget agreement.

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County Impact Scorecard On January 18, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her SFY 2023 Executive Budget proposal. The budget calls for a record $216 billion in total spending including nearly $5.5 billion on behalf of counties outside of New York City through major local aid programs, including $2.5 billion attributable to the state takeover of local Medicaid growth. Despite record spending levels, the budget is projected to remain balanced through 2027 while increasing state “Rainy-Day” reserves to 15% of State Operating Funds by 2025. Counties are encouraged by proposals that address long-sought county priorities like providing permanency in local sales tax rates, ending the diversion of local taxes to pay for the state’s AIM program, making significant investments in public health, and supporting veterans and infrastructure while also committing to use the state’s strong fiscal position to build reserves for the future. There are, however, areas of concern, including the continued diversion of local sales taxes to support a distressed health facilities fund and increased Pre-K provider rates, which are needed but should not be funded by county taxpayers. Counties look forward to working with the Governor and state lawmakers in the coming months to create a budget that supports local governments and the residents we serve. To learn more about the SFY 2023 Executive Budget Proposal, visit


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Top County Priorities Ends the diversion of county sales tax to pay for the State’s AIM Program Continues to divert county sales tax to pay for the Distressed Hospital Fund Makes local sales tax rates permanent & allows counties to increase to 4% Continues to cap Medicaid growth for counties

Economic Development Provides funding for the ConnectALL Initiative to expand broadband to rural and urban areas statewide Amends state law to eliminate fees on the use and occupancy of the State right-of-way for fiber-optic cable placed in fulfillment of a grant award under the ConnectALL initiative

Environment Includes a $1 billion increase to the Environmental Bond Act Includes $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund Invests an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure Enacts extended producer responsibility for packaging and paper products Reduces exposure to dangerous chemicals by banning PFAS in packaging by 2024

General Government Operations Includes $44 million in new funds to strengthen state and local cyber defense and response efforts Adds flexibility to the shared services program by making projects previously proposed but not implemented eligible for state matching funds

Gaming Increases gaming revenue loss offsets resulting from the state changing tax rates for commercial gaming facilities by $3 million Increases Native American Compact Gaming Revenues from Seneca Nation Settlement

Human Services Increases Runaway Homeless Youth Funding by an additional $2 million Makes changes to public assistance resulting in a $39.5 million cost shift to counties

Higher Education Raises funding floor for Community Colleges to 100% of last year’s funding levels

Judiciary Provides a market-rate of interest on court judgments Continues to fully fund Raise the Age and Hurrell-Harring settlement implementation

Labor / Civil Service Modernizes Civil Service exams to increase participation Allows veterans to qualify and transfer from non-competitive employment positions to competitive positions

Public/Mental Health & Special Education Funds the creation of a 9-8-8 Mental Health Crisis Hotline Increases pre-K special education provider rates at significant costs to counties Fails to fully fund the implementation of the 2019 elevated blood lead level mandate ($30.3M) Increases Article 6 base grants for LHDs and allows partial reimbursement for fringe benefits Fails to restore NYC to 36% reimbursement for public health spending beyond the base grant

Public Safety Provides $10 million for county probation departments to provide pre-trial services to promote public safety

Transportation & Infrastructure Expands local highway and bridge funding by including a new Pave Our Potholes Program Increases CHIPS Bidding Threshold from $350,000 to $750,000 Adds $100 million for Touring Routes

Veterans Increases state aid to county Veterans’ Service Agencies from $10,000 to $25,000 Includes $7.7 million to expand the Joseph P. Dwyer program statewide Extends and enhances the Hire-A-Vet Credit for three years 518.465.1473

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Challenges and Priorities NYS Council of Probation Administrators By Ryan Gregoire, NYSAC Legislative Director


YSAC recently published a podcast episode of County Conversations featuring a conversation on the everchanging roles and responsibilities of county probation departments, how recent changes to New York State’s criminal justice system have brought new responsibilities and challenges, and what county probation administrators will be advocating for in the upcoming legislative session. NYSAC’s Legislative Director Ryan Gregoire was joined by Luci Welch, Orleans County Probation Director and President of the NYS Council of Probation Administrators, along with Bob Iusi, Warren County Probation Director, and Chair of the Legislative Committee for COPA. Interview edited for length and clarity. RYAN GREGOIRE Two priorities on the program for probation departments are in regard to the raise the age statute that was enacted back in 2018. The first is a request to authorize law enforcement agencies to issue appearance tickets instead of an arrest in an immediate arraignment when an AO, an adolescent offender, is charged with most class D felonies. Can you tell us a little bit about what you have in mind for this modification for this population and why there's a struggle with assisting kids, AOs in particular? BOB IUSI Raise the age is a piece of legislation that's been in effect now for a few years. With that, we have a new class of offender called an adolescent offender, and that's for an individual between the ages of 16 and 18 who's charged with a felony. When that individual is apprehended by law enforcement, they're compelled to bring that individual in front of a court if in session. A lot of times they're not in session, so they have to find a local Magistrate that would be on call. Once you do that, there's county agencies that are responsible for finding specialized secured detention beds. We've talked many times to NYSAC, who has been a great partner with local probation departments with this, trying to advocate for more specialized detention beds. There is a lack of detention beds in the state of New York, and it's a difficult process to access them. And if you access them, I'm in Warren County, in the Lake George area, our Sheriff 's Department may have to go to Buffalo, Erie County, where there's a bed to bring an individual.


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What we're looking for is the flexibility for law enforcement on most class D felonies, which don't involve violence or acts against individuals, to have the discretion to issue an appearance ticket as opposed to getting everybody together. When I say in front of a court, it's not only the judge, it's many county personnel, local law enforcement, court personnel. A lot of times a judge will insist, if you're going to come in front of me, you better have a bed for me and if there's no bed, that's eight, nine hours of manpower, which may be after hours trying to find something. Law enforcement, in my opinion, particularly where I work, has very good discretion. If they apprehend an individual with a class D felony, and we give them the opportunity to issue an appearance ticket to go in front of the court when the court is in session again, it gives flexibility not only for the court system, but for county agencies that are tasked with finding a specialized secured detention bed when many times there simply isn't one. So, we're looking to streamline the process. We're looking to have a common-sense solution and leave it to the discretion of the professionals who operate in that venue. RYAN GREGOIRE Like you said, Bob, these are not violent felonies against an individual. So, we're talking about cases of fraud, possibly some small burglary type of events. And like you said, it's up to law enforcement at their discretion to decide, is this appropriate for an arrest, or can we just give them an appearance ticket and have them come to court the next day that it's in business. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a child from Warren County to get in a car and drive 6 hours to Buffalo to then be brought back to Warren County the next day to appear in front of a court. So that request certainly is another great commonsense solution that makes sense. And will also help individuals, AOs, who are charged with these class D felonies as well. So, Luci, staying on the vein of raise the age here and dealing with our youth, we just talked about some of the issues with trying to find detention beds. The second request from the probation departments is to allow law enforcement agencies to deliver an AO or a juvenile offender and juvenile delinquents to detention facilities after business hours without a securing order until the next business day. Why is that so important? What does it involve to try and get a securing order?

LUCI WELCH Well, generally in Orleans County, we have probation officers who are on call 24/7 for adolescent offenders. Essentially what happens is a lot of times when a law enforcement agency comes into contact with an adolescent offender, juvenile offender, juvenile delinquent, they will call us immediately to let us know what the situation is, and we'll try to work through that together. I agree with what Bob said earlier, that the law enforcement agencies are very competent when it comes to this and we should give them the discretion to be able to look at a situation and say, is this something that we could handle on our own, or do we need to get somebody else involved? Years ago, when I was a probation officer, that's how things ran. We didn't have adolescent offenders, of course, at that time, but we did have juvenile offenders and juvenile delinquents and the police in the middle of the night would make a determination that this child needs to be held in a facility. Sometimes it's because the child can't be home. A lot of times the parents will say, this child cannot remain in my home, I don't have any control over them. They need to be sent somewhere else. The police really need to have the ability to what we call “sign in a child” at a detention facility without having the court involved. Getting the court involved is: somebody would be contacting the District Attorney's office or the County Attorney's office, depending on the situation could be at two in the morning, and then the judge has to come out to issue the securing order.

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It's really a lot of red tape that really isn't necessary at that point because you've got the law enforcement agencies and you've got the probation officer and sometimes Child Protective Services is involved. They're making that call that this child needs to be placed in detention and the police have not been afforded that opportunity. There are some that contend that the law has not changed and does allow law enforcement agencies to deliver adolescent offenders and juvenile offenders and juvenile delinquents to a detention facility, but it's been tried several times without the securing order and each time we get turned away by the facility. Then what happens is if there's no place for the child to go, the police end up having to keep that child in custody until the court can actually see them. If we're talking that this incident happens on a Friday at, let's say 11:00 p.m. they may have to keep that child in their custody until Monday morning when the court is in session and that's really not good for the child as well. They're better off in a facility, if that's what it's coming to, where people are trained to deal with their issues, can administer medication, all sorts of other things, instead of being in sometimes the custody of law enforcement for that time until the court comes in session.

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What Will it Take to Snag a Marijuana Business License Q+A with New York Cannabis Board Chair By Caroline Lewis, Health Reporter, WNYC/Gothamist

This article originally appeared in The Gothamist on January 6th, 2022 and is reprinted here with permission. It has been edited for length.


ew York legalized marijuana for recreational use last March with a law designed to carve out space for small businesses and people from diverse backgrounds. But nearly a year out, much remains unknown about what the licensing process will look like for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs anxiously waiting in the wings — or how accessible the industry will really be. In an effort to provide a clearer picture of what the application process will look like and what they will need to participate in the industry, the Community Board hosted a Q&A with Tremaine Wright, chair of the state’s recently formed Cannabis Control Board, which will be overseeing the licensing process. Regulations for the state’s marijuana startups will be issued by the Cannabis Control Board “this winter or early spring,” Wright said. But she urged people to start familiarizing themselves with the types of licenses that will be available and drafting their business plans. Although many questions remain about the application process — and how it will help or hinder the state’s equity agenda — Wright offered some insights into what applicants can expect.

When will dispensaries be open for business? If everything goes according to the Cannabis Control Board’s 18-month timeline, recreational dispensaries should be licensed to operate by summer 2023.

When will license applications become available? There’s no set date, but it will likely take several months. The Cannabis Control Board aims to issue draft regulations for the licensing process in the first quarter of this year.


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Then, there will be two months for public comment before the regulations are finalized; only after that will applications become available.

How much will it cost to apply for a license? The application fees for different types of recreational cannabis licenses have yet to be determined, but Wright said people can get a sense of the fee scale by looking at the new rules that have been issued for the state’s hemp program. The fee for a hemp extraction and manufacturing license is $3,500, while the license fee for a dispensary is $300 per retail location. “I don't anticipate recreational marijuana being that low,” said Wright, but she added, “We are very deliberate that we do not have astronomical pricing because we want this to be an equitable program.” The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act notes, however, that fees should be reduced or waived for “social and economic equity” applicants.

Will the state help applicants with startup capital? In other states, and in New York’s own medical market, legal marijuana has largely been dominated by companies helmed by white men with access to wealthy investors. As part of the effort to make the adult-use market more accessible, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act indicates that the state should make low- and no-interest loans available to “qualified social and economic equity applicants.”

But Wright said those loans are not guaranteed to be available in the first round of licensing because the money to fund them will largely come from tax revenue generated by the industry. The law does say, however, that the state’s existing medical marijuana companies must pay fees upfront that are sufficient to fund an incubator that can provide assistance to some of the new startups. Wright suggested that people also seek to tap into other incubator programs, including those that are not cannabis-specific. She and members of Community Board 12 encouraged people to reach out to NYC Small Business Services for assistance in developing business plans and raising capital.

Will applicants be able to open a chain of dispensaries? Probably not. Wright said she anticipates that companies will only be able to get one retail license for one location. The intent is “not to have any one entity owning 10 stores at this time.” But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any major dispensary chains in New York. The state’s existing medical marijuana companies were each initially allowed to open four medical dispensaries. Under the new law, they will be able to double their total number of dispensaries to eight.

Will I have to have a lease on a space for the business when I apply? “We are leaning toward you not having to have it already, but you might need a letter of intent” from a landlord, Wright said. She added that as part of the application process, people will likely have to inform their local community board of their plans, as one would when applying for a liquor license, which also involves knowing where the site will be located.

“We really want to be able to get people who are ready to hit the ground running, so get your ducks in a row,” Wright said. A lot of people want to open cannabis dispensaries or lounges. What other licenses should people consider that get overlooked? The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act lays out nine different types of licenses companies can apply for and details what each entails: cultivator, nursery, processor, distributor, retail-dispensary, delivery, on-site consumption, adult-use cooperative, and microbusiness. “I don’t hear many people [talking about] processing and manufacturing, however I know there are lots of makers in our communities,” Wright said. She noted that processor licenses cover the production of edibles like candy and baked goods, which create a good opportunity to establish a brand. “Delivery is a fantastic option because it is designed to be a small business and create jobs as well as the potential for wealth,” Wright added. She said delivery companies would likely be capped at 25 employees in order to prevent behemoths like Uber from entering the market. “We’re trying to focus on not creating a space where monopolies can take over and kill all our small businesses,” she said.

Link to original article:

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Access to Broadband is About Equity, Quality of Life and Economic Development By Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy


he ongoing COVID pandemic, especially now with the emergence of the Omicron variant and surge of new infections and hospitalizations, has forced us to look in the mirror as a society for ways we can improve. COVID-19, for better or worse, has highlighted issues that have existed long before the virus was discovered, and it is our responsibility to address these concerns and not repeat the same mistakes for future generations. One of the things we have learned over the last two years is how critically important access to broadband is to us in order to keep government and the economy functioning. Albany County government is a great example of how an organization was able to adapt to the challenges presented and chart a path towards a connected and more efficient operation. As COVID infections spiked in the spring of 2020 – long before any vaccine had been created – county governments were forced to convert largely to remote operations. That meant much of our workforce needed to be outfitted with computers and with the proper security protections. However, this raised a vital question: What happens if someone does not have reliable access to an internet connection? Of course, it’s not just government employees who are impacted by limited access to high-speed internet. We must also consider the residents we serve who rely on important government programs and services each day. And it goes without saying that students, whether in grade school or college, need access to the internet in order to keep track of their course work and complete homework assignments, especially if COVID forces schools to transition to remote learning again. Access to, and the availability of, broadband is inherently an issue of equity. Availability is often a factor of geography, and those in rural communities are less likely to have needed infrastructure in place to connect to the internet. However, access is a factor of affordability of broadband and it is a separate issue for lower income families struggling to make ends meet. Government needs to be able to find remedies to both of these problems.


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A recent report released by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in September of last year found that over one million households across the state are not connected to broadband. And while some areas of the state are faring better than others, we need to do more to improve access and availability everywhere. As of 2019, 0.6% of the Capital Region did not have broadband infrastructure available. This may seem like a small number, but it equates to nearly 6,200 people, many who call Albany County home. Additionally, a study conducted by the City of Albany and Millennium Strategies in 2017 estimated that as much as 35% of the City’s population does not have access to affordable high-speed broadband, and that number is likely to be even higher in lower income and minority neighborhoods. That’s why I’ve made addressing this issue a top priority, and I am pledging to close the gap for all Albany County residents by the end of 2025. In order to meet this deadline, I’ve launched the Albany County Connect Project and commissioned international telecommunications consulting group, Insight Enterprises Inc., along with Tilson Technology Management to conduct a gap analysis and feasibility study in partnership with New York State, the Advance Albany County Alliance LDC and private sector telecommunications firm FirstLight Fiber. The study will focus on availability, accessibility and affordability of high-speed internet access in the urban, suburban and rural parts of the County and will be completed this spring. Ultimately, it will produce an actionable solution or suite of solutions and policies with which the County can apply for state and federal funding to implement. I’ve also signed a memorandum of understanding with FirstLight Fiber to buy their Wi-Fi network, Albany FreeNet in downtown Albany, in an effort to improve internet access for downtown residents. Broadband is no longer something that we can afford to have reserved for the affluent and the privileged. It is something nearly as indispensable as electricity and heating or cooling your home. It is a prerequisite to educating our children, growing our economy, and providing a quality of life that attracts and retains citizens, ensuring every resident has access to high-speed internet remains one of my highest priorities as County Executive.

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Mapping New York’s Broadband & How You Can Play a Role By Rory Christian, Department of Public Service CEO


ver the last 19 months, all of us have been asked to move so much of our daily activity online. From work, to education, to healthcare, and much more. For these reasons, ensuring reliable and affordable connectivity in every corner of our state is of paramount importance. The only way to do this is by understanding where broadband infrastructure exists and where it does not – an exercise that for far too long has been left unattended to. To help make this happen, the New York State Legislature passed the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act of 2021. The bill allowed the Department of Public Service to create the Broadband Assessment Program and house it within the agency’s Office of Telecommunications. The program, whose work will be updated annually, will showcase New York’s first-ever, in-depth interactive broadband map detailing the availability and reliability of high-speed broadband infrastructure statewide. The map, along with an accompanying report, will be released this spring. At the agency, we are thrilled to be able to work toward delivering an assessment of the infrastructure available to New Yorkers and put a spotlight on where infrastructure needs are greatest so the hard work of improving those areas can begin. The agency is also proud to be part of Governor Hochul’s recently announced ConnectALL Initiative, a transformational investment in New York's communities and digital infrastructure. The Department of Public Service will lead the outreach for this multi-agency initiative that will ensure available and accessible high-speed, reliable broadband for all New Yorkers. Through field-verified research, and with the help of internet service providers (ISPs), the interactive map will demonstrate not only those areas meeting the state’s definition of served, but the unserved and underserved broadband infrastructure areas across the state.


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The definitions are as follows: •

Served - any location with at least two ISPs, and one of those ISPs provides 100mbps speed;

Underserved - any location which has fewer than two ISPs or has two (or more) ISPs offering speeds less than 100mbps; and

Unserved - any location with no fixed wireless or wired service, or any location with less than 25mbps speeds available.

In addition to hearing from internet service providers, we need to hear from consumers themselves to better assess the data collected thus far and detailed in the report. Therefore, as part of the program, the agency has developed a consumer survey to hear about your broadband experience or lack thereof. We are committed to making this program something that can be used by everyone, but we need your input to understand what’s happening in your communities. We are asking everyone to take our broadband assessment survey and speed test by March 18, 2022. You can visit www.empirestatebroadband. com from a home computer, laptop, mobile device, or while visiting a public Wi-Fi location. If you’re unable to take the survey online due to lack of connectivity, you can call our tollfree broadband assessment line at 1-855-NYBBMAP (1-855692-2627). For those of you who have already completed the survey – thank you. We are proud to report to date we have had more than 10,000 households and businesses from every corner of the state complete this survey. In addition, DPS will be hosting an upcoming series of public hearings to solicit input from the public. You can find more information about those hearings on our website at once details are released. We hope to see you there.

A Decisive Year for Environmental Action By Jessica Ottney Mahar, The Nature Conservancy’s New York Policy and Strategy Director


n recent years, we have seen the dangers posed by global warming and habitat loss – deadly storms, extreme heat, air and water pollution, rising seas, vanishing ecosystems – all of which will only worsen if not addressed swiftly. At the same time, we are dealing with an economy still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a clear way to aid both the environment and the economy: fund environmental protection programs. Environmental investments are proven to boost state economic recovery, create good jobs, and strengthen local economies, while protecting our environment for future generations and reducing the risks of climate change. We need immediate, strong, and sustained action from our elected leaders at all levels. New York voters can help by voicing their support for these beneficial environmental programs. Environmentalists are calling on the New York State Legislature to pass Governor Hochul’s budget proposal to increase the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $400 million. Established in 1993, the EPF is New York State’s dedicated source of funding for critical environmental programs that protect what we love about New York – our clean drinking water, our magnificent parks, our wildlife, and our family farms. The EPF has already supported public lands, farms, drinking water sources, and coastlines in localities throughout the state, and it now requires expanded funding to grow its reach. The EPF is an economic driver too. It supports 350,000 jobs across New York in a broad spectrum of industries including construction, agriculture, recreation, tourism, forestry, recycling, and recreational fishing. It also nets a positive contribution to the state’s economy. For every $1 invested in land and water protection, $7 in economic benefits is returned to the state.

In addition to environmental funding in the state budget, we are also calling on voters to support the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act. If passed in the November 2022 election, it will put $4 billion toward safeguarding clean drinking water, modernizing water infrastructure, improving road safety, creating parks and trails, and protecting New Yorkers from deadly heat and flooding. Four billion dollars is a historic amount of funding that presents an opportunity to safeguard our communities from climate change and build a clean energy economy. The Bond Act will help New York State reduce air pollution, expand the renewable energy grid, preserve wildlife habitats, and advance environmental justice, all of which are essential in the fight against global warming. This investment will in turn support more than 65,000 good jobs and generate more than $6.7 billion in project spending across the state – more than covering its cost. New York voters have a once-in-alifetime opportunity this November to protect New York for future generations. Together, these legislative and voter-driven actions will make 2022 a landmark year for environmental protection and economic recovery. Every county in New York State will feel the benefits. Projects will boost economies all across the state, and improvements will reach local parks, infrastructure, and natural areas in every region. Every person in New York needs clean air and water, and every county has local environmental projects worth investing in. These environmental funding measures will allow us to implement key projects and protect natural resources all over New York State. To make our water and air cleaner, our economy stronger, and our future brighter, New York State must make environmental funding a top priority in this year’s state budget and election.

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A Focus on Equity and Engagement in Erie County Climate Task Force By Bonnie Lange Lawrence, Deputy Commissioner of Erie County Department of Environment and Planning


here is a tension between the urgency of addressing climate change and the time it takes to engage one’s community in a planning process. Under the leadership of County Executive Poloncarz, Erie County is trying to thread that needle by creating an equity-centered climate action plan with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders, as well as extensive public outreach. Erie County’s Community Climate Change Task Force, a committee of our Environmental Management Council chaired by Dr. Susan Clark of the University at Buffalo, advises us on this work. The Task Force has more than 30 members including representatives from a utility, transportation authority, municipal transportation planning unit, municipalities, businesses, communitybased organizations, advocacy groups, and youth groups. With the Task Force’s guidance and the help of over 100 volunteers – topic experts and community members – in 10 working groups, the county is preparing its climate action plan using the goals of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Like the work at the state level, Erie County is grounding its planning efforts in equity. This means continually revisiting questions posed by a Racial Impact Analysis Tool, such as “Who isn’t at the table?” Moreover, one of the working groups, Climate Justice, is reviewing the outputs of all the others to ensure that the focus on equity is not lost. While this level of cooperation and volunteerism is inspiring to those who see it, we recognize that the work will not be as valued if the public is not aware of it or given an opportunity to weigh in. There is no silver bullet. Authentic and effective community engagement is always challenging, so we are using multiple approaches and casting a wide net. For example, we have established a web site that offers different ways for the public to be informed about and interact with the planning process, tiered by time commitment. These include: signing up for our mailing list, sharing information on social media, taking a survey, having a meeting with our staff, and becoming a Climate Ambassador.


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Our Climate Ambassador program recognizes that we need trusted messengers throughout the County to introduce this work to their book clubs, church groups, scout troops, etc. We currently have more than 20 ambassadors and we are looking to grow that as we head into the last 6 months of our planning. With assistance from our Environmental Management Council, we are also planning outreach events with community organizations who would not have the capacity to participate without that support. Through those groups we are reaching groups that might be overlooked - rural, urban, religious, indigenous, seniors and youth - but have lived experiences that are important to creating a plan that is responsive to the needs of the community and that will have support once it is completed. We have a small budget to help with outreach and graphics, but we are mainly relying on no-cost options like social media, our local libraries and partner institutions, like the Buffalo Museum of Science. Along the way, we are building relationships and breaking down silos. We are committed to a community-centered process so that we can move forward together. For more information about Erie County’s Climate Action planning process, visit:

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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

Advancing Equity on the Frontlines of the COVID Pandemic By Paige Ryland, Equity Liaison for the Division of Finance, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Sami Jarrah, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


ublic health and public health systems across the nation face a multitude of challenges including a loss of personnel, historic disinvestment, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and continued racial disparities. The 2019 National Profile of Local Health Departments compiled by the National Association of County and City Health Officials revealed that Local Health Departments (LHDs) lost 21% of their workforce in the past 10 years and 15% of LHDs had decreased budgets compared to the previous fiscal year. In October 2021, the New York City Board of Health (BOH) passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and calling on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Health Department) to expand its anti-racism work to, among other actions, “develop priorities and next steps for a racially just recovery from COVID-19 and other actions – including resource allocation – to address this public health crisis in the short and long-term.” A similar position was taken at the state level, when at the end of 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul authorized legislation targeting discrimination and racial injustice including the declaration of racism as a public health crisis and creation of a working group to promote racial equity throughout New York. These declarations offer a chance for LHDs to act on addressing racism in every aspect of the work they do. Race to Justice, launched in 2016, is the Health Department’s ongoing internal reform process for advancing racial equity and social justice. At a high level, this process involves building staff awareness of racism and the skills needed to address it, examining how structural racism and other systems of oppression shape our work and implementing policies and practices to counter their effects, and strengthening collaborations with New York City’s communities to share in the work. Another way the Health Department has been successful in addressing racism in the COVID-19 response is by designating the neighborhoods known to have faced historic disinvestments and an outsized COVID-19 burden to receive targeted services aimed at improving rates of testing and vaccination.

For example, during the pandemic, equity-focused public health work has focused on Black communities who have endured systemic racism as well as Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods that included community members who have lacked vaccine confidence. This program is a partnership between the Health Department and New York City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, which has identified neighborhoods for special focus using data and community priorities. Coupled with efforts to collect complete race and location data, the Health Department has been able to track testing and vaccination by race and place and direct resources to populations in need. A key requirement of the BOH resolution is for the Health Department to make recommendations on revisions to the NYC Charter related to anti-racism and health. If approved, the recommendations will codify the jurisdiction’s commitment to anti-racist work ensuring it will continue over time and across administrations. More work is needed but in order to expand this work in New York City and other localities, LHDs require additional funding for staff and material resources. As part of this work, it is important that the resources needed for ending racial disparities are available and dedicated for equityfocused work. Dedicated funding is crucial for successfully meeting the expectations of public health agencies to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve, in New York City and beyond.

NYSAC News |


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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

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A Missed Opportunity on Mandate Relief By Tom O'Mara, NYS Senator District 58 (Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, and Yates Counties)


YSAC’s “2022 Key County Priorities” agenda gets right to the point on a critical and yet continually overlooked battleground for New York State’s future: the need to truly remake the state-local partnership.

Let’s be straightforward: Relieving counties of the burden of unfunded state mandates is the only way to ensure a future for local property taxpayers defined by property tax cuts, not just a slower rate of property tax growth.

They write, “Nearly 10 years ago, New York State mandated that local governments adhere to a property tax cap of two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. At the time, the state promised a robust package of mandate reforms that would help local governments stay under the tax cap. While state leaders did cap county Medicaid costs and implement a new pension tier to slow the growth in state mandated costs, dozens more mandates were not addressed.”

Governor Hochul’s proposed budget, for example, provides no significant moves on a priority that I have long advocated, which is to finally relieve counties of the local share of the cost of Medicaid. It is the single most needed action in this arena.

It is a battle I’ve been fighting for years and have been outspoken about the fact that New York has not lived up to then-Governor Cuomo’s original promise in 2011 to lift the existing burden of unfunded state mandates. While it turned out mandate relief wasn’t the only promise he wouldn’t keep, it has been one of the most damaging. Though the property tax cap has provided badly needed relief to taxpayers, lack of a deep-rooted commitment to addressing unfunded state mandates is ultimately responsible for New York’s outrageous property tax burden. Comprehensive mandate relief remains needed if we ever hope to deliver a future of property tax cuts for local taxpayers. NYSAC makes it clear that Governor Hochul includes initiatives in her proposed budget that are overdue and welcome -- and I fully agree! Yet the fact remains that long-term property tax relief is not made a priority in what is going to be the largest budget in New York State’s history. The flashy rollout of a proposed property tax rebate program that will only deliver a one-time benefit to property taxpayers doesn’t cut it, in my view.There are more effective ways to address the property tax burden. For starters? Mandate relief. It’s a missed opportunity in a budget plan that Governor Hochul touts, at its core, as being all about seizing opportunities.

As the NYSAC agenda reminds us: the $7.6 billion that New York’s counties are mandated to pay the state for Medicaid is more “than all the remaining counties in the country combined” and, furthermore, it is more than most states pay in nonfederal match for Medicaid. I wrote recently that I have never heard a governor so free and easy with the use of the word “billions” as Governor Hochul was when presenting her proposed 2022-2023 executive budget. “Billions” is now the defining word of the New York State budget. When all is said and done after the legislative majorities get involved, it will come in at something approaching $220 billion and jumpstart New York into the stratosphere of state budgets now and well into the future. It is a direction that should jolt state and local taxpayers too. Is Governor Hochul’s direction sustainable, by any stretch of the imagination, for current and future taxpayers? Does it pinpoint the right priorities for the long-term benefit of taxpayers at a time when we face the best opportunity we may ever have to do just that? New York remains one of the highest-taxed states in America, and one of the most overregulated. Local governments and property taxpayers foot the bill for one of the nation’s heaviest burdens of unfunded state mandates. It is troubling that the governor and top legislative Democrats keep talking about higher and higher state government spending at a time when the priority should be a long-term, steady, sustainable future for upstate, middle-class communities, families, workers, and taxpayers. Until we do something about it, one of the keys to that future remains relief from unfunded state mandates.


NYSAC News | Winter 2022

American Rescue Plan FAQ By Gregg Evans, CPA, Partner, The Bonadio Group


he American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is providing $350 billion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments. The United States Department of the Treasury has issued the Final Rule related to ARPA funds. Here are some frequently asked questions we have heard from our clients.

When is the Final Rule effective? The final rule is effective April 1, 2022, but recipients can take advantage of the new provisions now. Any funds expended prior to the adoption of the Final Rule comply if the recipient followed the guidance of the Interim Final Rule.

Are there areas I should avoid in spending ARPA funds? Yes. Avoid the following: •

Replenishing reserve funds

Making payments on outstanding debt

Making extraordinary payments to pension funds

Paying judgments

Do I need pre-approval before I start a project? No. Governments do not need approval from the Treasury to expend funds. Eligible use guidelines are detailed in Section II of the Final Rule. Also, consider that written justification is required for capital expenditures over $1 million. Capital project expenditures should be in response to the pandemic.

How long do I have to use ARPA funds? Recipients must use funds for costs incurred after March 3, 2021. All funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and expended by December 31, 2026.

Should I take the time to calculate revenue loss? Recipient governments may choose from two options under the Final Rule. The first option allows recipients a standard allowance of up to $10 million to be used under the lost public sector revenue category. If revenue loss is expected to exceed $10 million, recipients should calculate the revenue loss comparing actual revenue to counterfactual revenue. The Final Rule has increased the standard growth factor from 4.1% to 5.2% used in calculating the counterfactual revenue. In addition, utility revenues may now be included in the calculation. If you reported zero revenue loss in the Interim Report, you may recalculate using the new guidance and report revenue loss in your next report. Expenditures under this category should be used for services traditionally provided by governments, but recipients must avoid expending funds on ineligible expenses as defined above.

What reports do I need to file with the Treasury and when are they due? Most counties needed to file the Project and Expenditure report by January 31, 2022. Local governments with fewer than 250,000 residents, Tribal governments, and non-entitlement units of local government are not required to file interim or performance reports but are required to file quarterly project and expenditure reports with the first one being due by April 30, 2022. The Treasury has issued detailed guidance on using their portal to file reports.

Is administrative expenditure?




Yes. Fortunately, the guidelines allow governments to support program implementation including hiring a consultant to help administer the expenditure of the ARPA funds. Funds may also be used to address government backlogs created by the pandemic and to modify government operations including adding equipment like video-conferencing equipment and software. NYSAC News |


Reviving a Healthcare System in Critical Condition By Stefani L. Zinerman, NYS Assembly Member 56th District (Kings County, NYC)


he 245th legislative session has commenced and I have a heightened awareness of what an honor it is to represent the people of New York’s 56th Assembly District. Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights are culturally rich and historically significant neighborhoods. They are home to the largest concentration of people of African descent and boasts a vibrantly diverse population who own or work at thriving businesses and organizations that enrich our quality of life every day. It is a privilege to introduce legislation, and participate in budget negotiations, that will secure resources, not only for my district but communities throughout New York State. Their trust in my ability to address the myriad of complex issues during the challenging time of this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic fuels my dedication to this work. After more than two years in this fight, we now face the convergence of multiple COVID-19 variants and staggering deficits in our medical and operational staffing. Mitigation will require an unprecedented call to action if our hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare centers are to survive. This most contagious and extended cycle has caused high absenteeism among doctors, nurses, and many other vital medical roles whether due to extended quarantine, or the wave of professionals who are exiting their fields due to exhaustion, or hopelessness. As a state, we must prioritize helping hospitals and health centers to innovate their systems in order to provide for continuous quality delivery of care. Re-thinking methodologies to fill in coverage gaps must transcend this moment of crisis to help build a sustainable high-quality primary-care system that will focus on health and wellness instead of reactive emergency services. There are some common-sense measures we could adopt permanently to prepare for the future of quality healthcare. As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Workforce, I advocate for creating staffing models that build sustainable pipelines into understaffed positions. Currently, our hospitals have a desperate need for Phlebotomists, Electrocardiograph (EKG or ECG) technicians, aides to assist with patients, and workers who can provide transport, stock shelves, and carts, and get test results to labs.


NYSAC News | Winter 2022

All of these jobs can be taught with minimal training or through certificate programs that are available online. Pharmacy technicians also offer employment opportunities through short-term training. Recently, I toured a CVS Workforce Center that provides training and a competitive salary with benefits. In addition, teaching hospitals should be the norm and not an exception. Students enrolled in the healthcare professions in high school, nursing schools, medical and med-tech colleges should have the opportunity to intern under seasoned professionals and gain on-the-job experience as they learn. Hospitals and healthcare centers are the beating hearts of our state. They must look to their greater purpose and contributions to their communities beyond the emergency room and hospital beds. Neighborhoods from Brooklyn to Buffalo have young people and older adults looking for encore careers who can fill these positions. Lastly, we should finally embrace our role as 21st-century citizens by fully utilizing the ingenuity and flexibility of technology. The emergence of telehealth over the past few years is a game-changer and we must invest in its full implementation in our school-based health clinics, nursing homes, healthcare centers, and hospitals. The potential growth of telehealth as an emerging job sector is nowhere near its peak. We must provide all medical professionals with broadband access, equipment, and training to allow for continuity of care. Lack of telehealth services hamper medical professionals from communicating with patients and families as a method to alleviate emergency room strain. The inability to monitor a loved-ones status causes immeasurable grief. We must integrate telehealth more deeply into our healthcare system to keep people out of hospitals and help them stay on track with their annual physical, other medical appointments, and maintenance medicine. As my colleagues and I strategically plan our way out of this convergence from an extended crisis, we will put forth a valuecentered budget that will honor the efforts of exhausted frontline medical workers. This is our call of duty and I implore all New Yorkers to take action.

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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

Hidden Heroes and Casualties of the COVID-19 Pandemic By Scott Schmidt, President, New York State Association of County Coroners & Medical Examiners


his pandemic has challenged us professionally, individually, and collectively as a nation. We have witnessed acts of courage and selflessness, as well as actions which have elicited feelings of sadness, disgust, and disbelief. Challenging times bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in society. COVID-19 and all its variant (current and yet to appear) is no different. Yet with all the challenges the virus has sent our way, we still forge ahead. We offer our gratitude for the people on the front lines of this scourge; first responders, law enforcement, fire, and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) personnel, as well those in the medical field who are exhausted, short staffed and face this virus head-on every minute of each day. We are all grateful and offer our heart-felt gratitude for their dedication and sacrifices. Though we rightly see their heroism in the news frequently, there are other unsung heroes and victims that deserve our recognition and attention.

Coroners and Medical Examiners With ever increasing deaths and an uptick in homicides in many cities, morgue capacity is maxed out in Medical Examiners’ offices and hospitals. As with many other professions, staffing has become an issue due to illness and quarantine. Hospitals have procured refrigerated trailers for temporary body storage which the media fawns over and tries to sensationalize pictures of bodies being placed into the trailers. What the media do not tell you is that this is a customary practice and accepted protocol used in Mass Fatality Incidents. Our thanks go to the Coroners, Medical Examiners, Morgue Staff, and Scene Technicians who are also exhausted with caseloads backing up and, in many instances, having to handle 8-12 cases per day in addition to their normal case load.

Funeral Directors For over two years, they have had to endure not only the handling of infected remains and extensive procedures to disinfect their facilities, but they have also had to adhere to the restrictions preventing them from providing many services that bereaved families would traditionally choose when a loved one dies. Funeral Directors have a calling to help ease the pain of families who have had a loved one die by taking care

of the dead with dignity, care, respect, professionalism, and love. They have dedicated their lives to serving the needs of grieving families in the various traditions of ‘saying goodbye.’ The challenges of situational mandates and guidelines cause pain for many Funeral Directors because they were not able to provide the services that many families wanted per family or religious tradition. This was not only difficult for the families to accept but truly created personal strife for many Funeral Service professionals who consider their career choice a calling. Yet, they forged ahead providing the utmost care and professional loving service to the best of their ability despite being hamstrung by the mandates and guidelines placed upon them.

Opioid Victims The COVID-19 pandemic, with its new guidelines, everchanging mandates, new variants, and conflicting information has held a firm grip on our public discourse, allowing a stunning reality and ever-present epidemic to lurk in its shadow. Over the last two years, opioid overdoses and fatalities from overdoses rose over 30 percent. People who were fighting addiction, in recovery, or using for the first time, were forced to isolate, forced to stay home from work with loss of income, and many people had no way to interact with other people. They picked up, or returned to the only thing which could give them relief in a bigger and deadlier way. The resulting 30 percent increase in overdoses and deaths due to overdose is nothing short of frightening. So much so that the State Associations of Counties, County Coroners & Medical Examiners, and Funeral Directors addressed this last year and reintroduced the See the Signs-Save a Life campaign. May we all be thankful for those who sacrificed to help stabilize our society in this pandemic. May we all remember those who are silently hurting and may need some additional support or mental health assistance. May we all learn how to “See the Signs” in hopes of perhaps being able to “Save a Life” in a world increasingly troubled and plagued by addiction. And may we all remember how important it is to find understanding and compassion for the needs of others, and to do our best to be kind in a hurting world.

NYSAC News |


A Cybersecurity Primer for Local Leaders Why It’s Important, What to Know, and What to Do By Alondra Berroa, Program Associate and Meghan Cook, Program Director, Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, State University of New York


ounties and local entities are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats and continue to fall victim to a range of cyber attacks. Protecting against a cyber attack is an effort that requires a unified approach from the entire county including executives, administrators, legislators, supervisors, information technology (IT) and security staff, department heads, counsel, and employees. It’s a misnomer that protecting the county is only for IT and security leaders. It is a countywide challenge that requires a countywide approach. But in order to do that, it is helpful for everyone within the county to have a basic understanding of cybersecurity, cyber preparedness, and their role in their county’s cyber risk management and incident responses. At a workshop and meetings at NYSAC Fall Seminar, county leaders identified a long list of cybersecurity concerns, including: tracking the cyber threat environment, making sure critical data is protected, knowing the best way to allocate scarce funding, what skills to recruit to boost security, the specific vulnerabilities facing their county, the financial impact of a cyber breach, and what questions to ask of their IT team.




NYSAC News | Winter 2022

In response, county leaders asked NYSAC to develop resources that could improve their basic information of cybersecurity, with specific attention on what county leaders can and should do. NYSAC reached out to the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany to assemble a statewide advisory team and develop a Cybersecurity Primer for County Leaders. CTG UAlbany, an award-winning research institute with expertise in building capability among government leaders, was the/a natural choice to develop this important piece of work. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) defines cybersecurity as “the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.” As governments carry out critical operations and services, protecting all assets has become an increasingly complex and continuous effort but one that needs attention and resources.

The Cybersecurity Primer for County Leaders, available on NYSAC’s website, is geared for all the non-technical leaders within a county that must play a role as part of their county’s protection team. It sets forth industry accepted cybersecurity frameworks described in layman’s terms and was created so that every official and county employee, regardless of technical background, can work in a unified approach with their IT and security leaders. As NYS counties are already working to safeguard against cyber attacks, this Primer is another tool to help all county employees become part of the team. Over the course of several months, CTG UAlbany, NYSAC, and the Statewide Advisory Team curated information from expert cybersecurity organizations, discussed pressing questions with county leaders, and incorporated input and expertise from government and cybersecurity leaders to develop the Primer. NYSAC Deputy Director Mark LaVigne described the Primer as “a direct response to the needs expressed by NYS’s county leaders as they looked to build their understanding and their colleagues' understanding in the complex environment of cybersecurity.” Hackers and malicious adversaries have gotten more sophisticated and are increasingly targeting local governments. In short, the time for a county leader to enhance their own cyber knowledge and understanding is now. J. Ramon GilGarcia, Director of the Center for Technology in Government (CTG UAlbany) said “The Cybersecurity Primer for County Leaders is a launching point to increase cybersecurity awareness among all local government officials and employees. With CTG UAlbany’s expertise in research-to-practice translation and NYSAC’s commitment to county leaders, this Primer brings together a combination of technical and policy information with actionable guidance so that leaders can better understand and manage their own cyber risk.”

The Primer has basic information set forth in three sections: •

Why Cybersecurity Should be a Priority for County Leaders. This includes a NYS story with facts and figures on cyber incidents to date;

Common Cybersecurity Questions and Answers. This includes real questions asked by NYS county leaders and curated responses; and

Top Three Cybersecurity Preparedness Actions for County Leaders. This includes what cyber preparedness actions county leaders might be doing now if they are not already.

Also included are three appendices including Cybersecurity Terms and Definitions, Cyber Resources by Organization, and a list of references and websites used to develop the primer.

NYSAC News |


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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

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Shining A Light on Veterans Counties Light Buildings Green in Support By Tom Oldfather, NYSAC Communications Manager


his past Veterans Day holiday, the New York State Association of Counties announced that it was launching a new initiative called Operation Green Light, to encourage homeowners, businesses, and governments to light up their homes, buildings, courthouses, and bridges green in support of America's veterans the week of November 7th. While the event focused on the week of Veterans Day, NYSAC encourages individuals to continue to shine the light yearround. By shining a green light, participants let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated, and supported.

Veteran suicides have claimed over 30,000 lives since 2001— four times more than the number of U.S. military personnel who died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. This crisis has only intensified as the conclusion of the war has brought America’s longest running conflict to a close. “This was the first Veterans Day in nearly two decades to be celebrated during peacetime,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “Many veterans are returning home and many more are wondering what their sacrifice over the last 20 years means. We wanted to do something to welcome those veterans home and honor their sacrifice and the sacrifice of all our nation’s veterans in a way that everyone could see.” Individuals can participate by simply changing one light bulb in their house to a green bulb. This can be an exterior light that neighbors and passersby see, or an interior light that sparks a conversation with friends.

“Everyone can make a difference in the lives of a newly discharged service member,” said Jason Skinner, President of the NYS County Veterans Service Officers' Association. “First and foremost, leaving military service is the end of one career and the beginning of the next one. Removing barriers to employment is a major component of this initiative. The military instills great qualities that any employer would benefit from. Thanks to NYSAC, their leadership is shining the light on this and many other ways we can help our nations heroes.” Operation Green Light is a collaboration between NYSAC, the NYS County Executives' Association, and the NYS County Veteran Service Officers' Association and is intended to support veterans of all military conflicts, with a special emphasis on the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The campaign also seeks to raise awareness about the challenges faced by many veterans and the resources that are available at the county, state, and federal level to assist veterans and their families. With the end of the US involvement in the Middle East conflict, comes the responsibility to support and serve the veterans who sacrificed on our behalf. Unfortunately, many recent veterans are struggling to come to terms with the chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan.


NYSAC News | Winter 2022

To assist with promotion of the initiative, NYSAC created an Operation Green Light Toolkit for counties which features, sample press releases, social media graphics, talking points and sample webpage content. “Operation Green Light is an opportunity to support our veterans and raise awareness about the challenges they face and say that if you're a vet and you are struggling, please reach out for assistance,” said NYSAC President Martha Sauerbrey. “We encourage everyone to join with us in displaying a green light for our veterans and to also reach out to the vets in your life to check in and let them know that you're with them and that you have their back.” More than 30 counties across New York State participated in the initiative, lighting their buildings, bridges, and other landmarks green in honor of the service and sacrifice of those who fought to preserve freedom. “Operation Green Light gives individuals, businesses and government leaders a way to reach out and let members of the veteran community know what we’re with them and that we appreciate all that they have done to protect our country and our way of life,” said Acquario.

OPERATION GREENLIGHT A selection of participating counties and organizations from Veterans Day 2021

Livingston County Courthouse

New York City Hall

Rochester Airport

Genesee County Courthouse

Penn Station

Clinton County Courthouse

SUNY Administration Building

Oneida County Office Building

Tompkins County

Dutchess County Office Building

Syracuse Dome

NYSAC Offices at DASNY

Learn more at NYSAC News |


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NYSAC News | Winter 2022

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Save the Date! NYSAC's Annual County Finance School

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NYSAC News | Winter 2022


NYSAC News |


Last Look at Local Laws of 2021 By Patrick Cummings, NYSAC Counsel


YSAC tracks and makes available local laws that have been passed by our member counties. Understanding how New York counties are addressing their local issues and resident needs through local laws can provide ideas for other government leaders to use in some capacity in your county. Below is a description of unique and noteworthy local laws passed by our members in 2021, as well as a web address link to find the entire local law.

Suffolk County Enacts Local Law Prohibiting the Dissemination of Personally Identifying Information On December 3, 2021 Suffolk County enacted a local law prohibiting the dissemination of personally identifying information in order to protect the safety and welfare of its residents. This legislature found that there was an increase in cases where an individual's personally identifying information is published, posted or otherwise made public by thirdparties as a means of threatening, intimidating or harassing; colloquially known as "doxing." Accordingly, the purpose of this law is to prohibit the publishing, posting or otherwise publicizing the personally identifying information of any county resident. The law states a person is guilty of disseminating personally identifying information when done with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass or frighten a person who resides in Suffolk County, and he or she: (1) intentionally disseminates the personally identifying information of a person or a person's immediate family member or household member; and

County of Oswego Establishes a Public Defender Office On December 9, 2021, the Oswego legislature adopted a local law establishing a public defender’s office within the county. By State law, it is required that counties meet the constitutional obligation of providing legal defense to those that cannot afford counsel. Counties have several ways by which they can provide this service (or a combination of methods) such as through a public defender’s office or private sector attorneys (known as 18B attorneys); or by contract with providers such as Legal Aid. By creating a Public Defender Office to provide criminal defense, the county is also creating the position of Public Defender, a appointed position that will oversee and manage this department. The Public Defender is appointed by the County legislature for a (2) two-year term. The law defines qualifications of the positions such as being an attorney in good standing with at least 10 years practice in this relevant field. The Public Defender's duties shall include but not be limited to: 1.

Developing, managing, and submitting budgets for approval by the County Administrator and County Legislature.


Appointing, hiring, laying-off, suspending, disciplining and/or removing any person employed in the Public Defender's Office in accordance with Civil Service Law and/or collective bargaining units.


Establishing and overseeing office policies.


Preparing statistical and other reports as required by the State of New York Office of Indigent Legal Services, the County Legislature for presentation to the community, the Courts, and any other appropriate entity.


Representing indigent defendants charged with crimes and in other proceedings in local criminal courts, County Court, Surrogate's Court, Family Court and Supreme Court, state Appellate Courts and Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) matters.

(2) the dissemination would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, his or her immediate family member, or his or her household member. Personally Identifying Information is defined as any information that identifies or reasonably can used to identify an individual, including but not limited to: social security number or other government-issued identifier; date of birth; home or physical address; electronic-mail address or phone number; financial account number or credit or debit card number; biometric, health or medical data, or insurance information; and/or school or employment locations. The law is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one (1) year's imprisonment. Link: 58

NYSAC News | Winter 2022


County of Cayuga Passes a Local Law Establishing the Department of Parks and Trails and the Position of Director of Parks and Trails


The operation, maintenance, repair of all county-owned parks and trails and related recreational facilities.


Planning, organizing and budgeting for the department as well as recruiting, equipping, training and supervising department personnel.

Last November, the County Legislature of Cayuga County adopted a local law creating a County Department of Parks and Trails as well as a director position to run said Department. The county sought to establish this department in order to provide more direct and focused oversight over matters involving parks, trails and related recreational facilities.

The Director of Parks and Trails shall be appointed, without term, by the County Legislature. Link:

The legislature found that this will help manage and provide the best use of the parks and trails and related facilities which are owned and operated by Cayuga County and are critical assets to promoting the cultural and recreational opportunities within the county for both the citizenry and visitors alike. The Department of Parks and Trails shall have the duty of preserving and maintaining all parks and trails, and related buildings and facilities owned or leased by the county. The Director of Parks and Trails shall have primary responsibility for overseeing the Department as well as provide:

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