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COLUMN: Productive session comes to close in Albany

— It’s hard to believe the 2012 legislative session has already come to a close. Since passing an early budget in March, my colleagues and I took action to improve the quality of life for all our communities through many different pieces of legislation. With this year’s session concluded, I would like to highlight some of the real achievements of the past six months.

With sound fiscal planning and the consolidation, merging or elimination of nearly 30 government agencies and offices, my colleagues and I closed $13.5 billion in budget deficits over two years without raising taxes.

Along with lowering personal income taxes for our residents, we’ve taken many strides toward spurring job creation. Through the establishment of the $75 million New York Works Economic Development Fund, it is hoped that thousands of jobs will become available. We also supported $1.2 billion in New York Works transportation funding to pay for bridge repairs, pavement preservation projects and protect motorists across our state. While there is still more work to accomplish to provide job opportunities for all our residents, we have laid the foundation for future economic growth across New York.

I introduced legislation to ban synthetic marijuana and similar substances, which influenced the Governor and the State Health Department to issue a ban on substances like Happy Shaman that have proven dangerous and addictive. Later during this session, the Assembly and Senate passed different bills to criminalize the sale and distribution of these dangerous products and added synthetic cannabinoids to the list of controlled substances. This is a nation-wide problem and it is my hope that federal leaders will find a way to criminalize these synthetic drugs.

This year my colleagues and I took many steps to address public safety. I was pleased that we expanded the state’s DNA database by requiring a DNA sample from every person convicted of a felony or penal misdemeanor. We passed legislation to prohibit bullying and cyberbullying that put forth protocols to protect students and educate them on the consequences of victimizing others.

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