“Spring is in the air” and “hope springs eternal” - those are two expressions that come to mind this time of year. It is always refreshing to feel the pleasant change in the weather along with the blooming of trees, shrubs and lawns - and a time of year when important community initiatives are blossoming as well.
As we embark upon the second - and hopefully final - year of the COVID-19 pandemic, that sensation has taken on extra comfort and appreciation. On the Legislature and in County government, we are fueled by that optimism. My office continues to assist residents in obtaining appointments for the vaccines that will open the door to brighter days ahead. The County is re-tooling plans to vaccinate homebound seniors so that we may reach as many residents as possible. As of this writing I have been informed that approximately 80 percent of our seniors have been vaccinated - a tremendously encouraging statistic.
Earlier this month, I introduced legislation to amend Nassau County’s Human Rights Law to protect our residents from unlawful discrimination based on irrational, false and unfounded perceptions of responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders being the targets of reprehensible and disturbing hate crimes at an alarmingly high rate in New York and across the country. As we continue to advocate for legislative relief, my office is also planning a series of virtual roundtable discussions featuring Asian American leaders and business owners in our community who can discuss this topic from a personal perspective.
I am pleased to report that the New York State Legislature passed a law - which my office helped to draft - that amends the state’s Real Property Tax Law to ensure new construction condominiums and substantially renovated homes receive a phase-in of their assessment increases and provide for a $750,000 exemption off of the fair market value as determined by the recent reassessment of all properties in Nassau County. This welcome change makes the assessment and taxation process fairer for a significant number of homeowners.
Until it is safer to gather in public like we did before the pandemic, my office will continue to host its community forums and workshops virtually. On Thursday, April 29, my office will present “Ready to Rescue: What to Know Before You Adopt a Pet” on Facebook Live and Zoom. Through this event, we are supporting Long Island Cares and Baxter’s Pet Pantry by donating a pet-care item for every person who RSVPs for this 7 p.m. webinar. Thank you to the local businesses that have already signed on as co-sponsors!
We will also be commemorating Sexual Assault Awareness Month by partnering with our friends at The Safe Center to host a virtual program focused on sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. Additionally, during Fair Housing Month, my office will be hosting a virtual workshop devoted to pandemic-related fair housing issues, rental-assistance programs for tenants and landlords, and source-of-income discrimination laws.
While the last year has indeed been tremendously challenging, the giving spirit of our community has never faltered. I am so proud to recognize Family Bagels of Plainview for fundraising and rallying to raise money for the medical care and treatment for Rebecca Koltun - a young woman from Plainview resident who suffered a tragic skiing accident last month. The resulting spinal cord injury paralyzed her from the neck down and left her unable to breathe without assistance. Their goal is to raise $750,000 - and they are well on their way!
As we endeavor to return to normalcy, and graduations, religious occasions and weddings are approaching, I urge everyone to continue following COVID-19 protocols by wearing face coverings outdoors, maintaining social distancing and washing our hands frequently. Please continue to follow my social media pages, where we share updates about COVID-19 protocols, upcoming community events, and more.
Happy spring-cleaning, gardening and enjoy the outdoors! To all of my Muslim friends - Ramadan Mubarak!