Political Potpourri: Spousal Refusal To Remain Intact

April 5, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Paula Katinas

People caring for a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other devastating illnesses will not be abandoned by New York State, according to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who said a provision in state law called spousal refusal has been preserved in the state budget that was approved last week in Albany.

Under spousal refusal, husbands or wives caring for their stricken spouse are permitted to separate their assets under law so that they don’t go bankrupt paying for the cost of long-term medical care. The spousal refusal provision allows families to qualify for Medicaid when they might not otherwise be able to get that assistance.

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Spousal refusal was endangered when the governor’s proposed budget sought to eliminate it. Malliotakis, working with Judith Grimaldi and Joanne Seminara, attorneys specializing in elder law, fought to save the provision.

“By approving a budget that preserves spousal refusal, we have ensured that our families aren’t forced to choose between accessing medical treatment and draining the savings they worked their entire lives to build up,” Malliotakis said.

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Members of the Brooklyn Young Republicans have a lot to celebrate these days. The club was named the New York State Young Republican Club of the Year by a coalition of GOP clubs from around the state.

Russell Gallo, president of the Brooklyn Young Republicans, accepted the award on behalf of his members at the New York Young Republican Convention in Albany over the weekend.

“What a year 2011 was!” Gallo said. “In less than a year, we’ve not only revived our organization, we’ve made history by working with the Kings County GOP to elect Congressman Bob Turner and we’ve established a corps of volunteers ready to go for 2012.”

Kings County Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton praised Gallo’s club.

“I am proud of this great organization and it is a breath of fresh air to work with young professionals who not only work hard to help the county organization but also provide new ideas and approaches to the challenges that we face on a daily basis,” Eaton said.

Gallo, a sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, was selected to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the swearing-in ceremony for Turner.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana, like the popular K2 that is sold in stores, is getting a lot of positive reaction from lawmakers.

Sunset Park Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, chairman of the Assembly’s Mental Health Committee, said he has seen the negative effects of synthetic marijuana in the community. People who have used synthetic marijuana have wound up in emergency rooms at hospitals, he said.

“I have been calling for the complete ban of this drug for over a year now. I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking a leadership role in this fight. I look forward to continuing to work with his administration to help remove other dangerous drugs from our streets,” Ortiz said.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Cuomo did the right thing by deciding ban to ban “this noxious product” from being sold in New York.

“We are working very hard to establish a federal ban so that kids seeking out these dangerous drugs can’t simply hop in a car and cross state borders to get a deadly high,” he said.

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The state budget was completed on time for the second year in a row.

State Sen. Marty Golden said he’s pleased with two items in particular — the cut in sales tax on clothing purchases under $110 and the repeal of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax.

All clothing and footwear costing less than $110 per item will not have a sales tax. The tax break started on April 1 and will last all year. Also as of April 1, businesses with an annual payroll of less than $1.25 million will not have to pay the MTA payroll tax. The tax is collected from businesses so that the MTA can fund transportation in the region.

“These tax cuts will help reduce costs for New York’s families and businesses and enable us to keep more of our hard-earned money. In this economy, every dollar counts and we must work to reduce the costs of living and doing business in New York,” Golden said.

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U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, blasted the federal budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee. Nadler charged that the Ryan-proposed budget would hurt middle-class and working-class families, give “reckless” tax breaks to business owners and millionaires, and that it fails to invest in education, the social safety net or the country’s infrastructure.

“The sheer gravity of the cuts proposed by the Republican budget is staggering and disastrous,” said Nadler, who called the GOP plan the “Ryan Budget Against America.”

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Mike Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, is urging Governor Cuomo to “rethink” a statement he made about creating a health insurance exchange based on the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

The health insurance exchanges will not lower insurance premiums, according to Long, an opponent of Obamacare. Long said it will do the opposite — increase premiums that hardworking New Yorkers will have to pay.

“Governor Cuomo, the rush to put health exchanges in place by executive order is bad for the health of New York state and I strongly urge you to rethink this inexcusable rush to assume the responsibility of the Legislature,” Long said. “Health exchanges are a costly, burdensome, big-government proposal that ultimately harms the health of New Yorkers.”

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