Since his election to the State Assembly in the fall of 2002, Michael J. Cusick, a lifelong resident of Staten Island, has worked to improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders.
Shortly after graduating from Villanova University in 1991, Cusick began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council, where he was the representative for the Borough of Staten Island. Following that, Cusick served as the Director of Constituent Services for United States Senator Charles E. Schumer and then as Chief of Staff to former Staten Island Assemblymember Eric N. Vitaliano, where he oversaw the Assembly member’s Albany and Staten Island offices.
Cusick has earned a reputation for dedication and thoughtful public service, tirelessly advocating on behalf of his community. As the senior member of the Staten Island delegation in Albany, with more than two decades of work in government behind him, Cusick brings his expertise to the table while negotiating issues of Island and State-wide importance.
An active member of many civic organizations, Cusick has served on the Staten Island Board of Directors of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Boy Scouts of America. He was the Staten Island Chapter President of the Villanova Alumni Association, and is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, John D. Kearney Division 3, as well as the State Island Athletic Club. In 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Cusick to sit on the Blue Ribbon Panel to enhance collaboration between the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation which honors the legacy of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who laid down his life during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Additionally, Cusick chairs the Handicapped Parking Task Force on Staten Island, which he established shortly after his election. The Task Force works with community groups to address the parking concerns faced by disabled individuals.
In 2011, Cusick developed a program in conjunction with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, known as the Veteran’s Discount Program, that gives veterans a card so they can access discounted items at many local businesses. The number of veterans and participating businesses continues to grow – a tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
In 2012, New York City proposed reopening the former Fresh Kills Landfill as a site for a waste-to-energy facility. Cusick fiercely opposed the plan, citing a state law he helped craft in 1996 which closed the former landfill to the receipt and processing of garbage forever. Standing firm, Cusick and his colleagues won the battle and the administration backed off the proposal.
A passionate activist for Staten Island youth, Cusick labored on behalf of Pouch Camp, a New York City Boy Scout Sanctuary, by securing funding to keep this venerable Staten Island institution from being sold to developers. Cusick also successfully fought to restore yellow school bus serves to Staten Island for seventh and eighth grade students in 2012. In 2008, Cusick created a program called the “Total Fitness Challenge” which encourages Staten Island students from kindergarten through eighth grade to read and exercise during their summer break. An unflagging voice against childhood obesity, he challenges children to keep track of their activities and turn their score cards in upon returning to school. An awards ceremony follows where the children are congratulated for their achievements.
On the legislative front, Cusick is a strong voice on behalf of his constituents in the State Capitol and has sponsored numerous bills which have become law. In 2007, legislation sponsored by Cusick created the 13th Judicial District for Richmond County. Staten Island had long sought its own Judicial District, and now the Island has a significant role to play in selecting justices for the State Supreme Court. In response to protestors who targeted military funerals across the nation, Cusick passed legislation in 2006 that creates a 100-foot buffer zone. As protests continued, he passed two more bills in 2011 that ultimately increased the buffer zone to 300 feet and created a required permit for such demonstrations.
In an effort to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic on Staten Island, Cusick was the architect of a law that established a real time prescription drug monitoring program that requires medical professionals and pharmacists to report and track prescriptions of controlled substances. This law, enacted in 2012, makes New York a leader by being among the first states to have such a program. In 2014, Cusick continued his efforts with a law that required insurance companies to use certain criteria when making decisions about in-patient treatment programs to ensure individuals have access to proper treatment and an expedited appeals process if they are denied. Cusick furthered his work to combat addition in 2016 with a law that allowed trained licensed professionals to administer opioid overdose reversal medication and required hospitals to provide patients with available follow-up treatment options.
Following Superstorm Sandy, Cusick introduced legislation to include home health care and hospice agencies in local Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans that are submitted to the Division of Homeland Security. Cusick saw that chaos that took place in the days and weeks following the storm where nurses and home health care aides were unable to reach homebound patients. Following much input from the agencies, counties, and the Division of Homeland Security, Cusick’s bill was signed into law in 2017.
Cusick has been a member of the American Irish Legislators Society of New York since 2003 and was elected President in 2009. In 2011 he was selected to serve as Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee and, since 2018, he took over as Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee. As Chair of the Energy Committee, Cusick has taken an active role in efforts to secure the energy grid against cybersecurity threats, worked to increase the adoption of electric-drive vehicles, and supported efforts to bring the offshore-wind industry to New York. In addition to sitting on the Assembly Committees on Governmental Employees, Higher Education, Veterans Affairs, and Ways and Means, Cusick is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators Energy Task Force and the Council of State Governments Energy and Environment Committee.