Home Essentials in the COVID-19 Era: Internet and Utility Policy for the Pandemic

March 12, 2021  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Sponsored By AARP NY
Event Description

Amid the coronavirus crisis, people are staying home more than ever, which means people are counting on their basic utilities more than ever, as well as needing to connect online from home with healthcare providers, for employment and education, and to stay in contact with friends and family. This virtual forum will discuss what state lawmakers can do to ensure the lights stay on at home during this crisis, that more New Yorkers have access to and can afford high speed internet, and can connect with their healthcare providers remotely when needed.

Specific topics will include:

• Expanding the state’s moratorium on utility terminations

• Internet affordability

• Ensuring NY’s high speed internet infrastructure reaches all those who need it

• Encouraging flexibility and availability of telehealth services

• And more!



Amy Paulin, chairwoman, Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.
Amy Paulin
New York State Assembly Member, District 88
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has served the 88th New York State Assembly District (Scarsdale, Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and parts of New Rochelle and White Plains) since 2001. She chairs the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions and serves on the Committees on Education, Health and Rules. She served as the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy from 2013-2017, working to encourage renewable energy and ensure our electricity grid is reliable. Assemblywoman Paulin recently served as one of the Assembly appointees to the Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, which rigorously examined the structure and needs of the MTA, as well as made recommendations for sustainable funding sources. A full-time legislator, Assemblywoman Paulin annually ranks among the state’s most successful lawmakers. Her diverse legislative agenda includes state government reform, children and families, domestic violence, sex trafficking, education, health care, animal welfare, and preventing gun violence. To date 216 of her bills have been signed into law. Assemblywoman Paulin was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, holds a Master’s degree, and has completed doctoral course work in Criminal Justice.
Timothy M. Kennedy
New York State Senator, District 58
Since being sworn into office in January 2011, Senator Tim Kennedy has fought to ensure Western New York sees its fair share of funding and state resources. In March 2019, three months after being named Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Tim delivered an unprecedented $100 million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to fund a five year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of the Metro Rail. In his role as Chair, Tim has set an aggressive agenda. He sponsored legislation to allow municipalities to install cameras on school buses, in order to more effectively catch drivers who break the law and jeopardize student safety by passing stopped buses. He also spearheaded a package comprehensive limo safety reforms, in order to strengthen the industry standards and better protect New Yorkers who use alternative transportation. Tim drafted these reforms alongside the families of victims involved in limo crashes in Schoharie and Cutchogue. Both houses have passed these transportation priorities, and the Governor quickly signed them into law. Throughout his time in office, Tim has kept a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable in our community. He spearheaded the passage of Jay-J’s law, legislation that stiffens penalties for repeat child abusers. The legislation was inspired by Jay-J Bolvin, a young boy who was brutally abused by his father. Sadly, Jay-J’s father received a light sentence due to antiquated sentencing laws, but through Tim’s advocacy, these penalties were strengthened. Tim also penned Jackie’s Law, which protects victims of domestic violence from GPS stalking, and was signed into law in 2014. Tim knows the importance of growing and protecting Western New York’s workforce, which is why he was a supporter of the creation of the Northland Workforce Center on Buffalo’s East Side. He actively works to connect Western New Yorkers with job opportunities, whether through his jobs website, Kennedy Jobs File, or through his annual Queen City Job Fair, which draws hundreds of employers and job seekers every year. While he regularly works one-on-one with companies to establish roots in Buffalo, he strongly believes in preserving the city’s past. He led the call for $5 million of the Buffalo Billion funding to be dedicated towards the reuse and restructuring of Buffalo’s iconic Central Terminal, and helped to bring the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to the Terminal for a full day East Side Festival, offering a free concert to thousands of Western New Yorkers. Tim is a lifelong Western New York resident. He grew up in a blue-collar family in Buffalo, where his parents, Marty and Mary Kennedy, raised Tim and his four siblings to work hard, focus on their education, help their neighbors, and get involved in their community. Tim attended St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute before going on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in occupational therapy at D’Youville College. For 11 years, Tim worked with geriatric and pediatric populations to help them recover from injuries and fully participate in all life situations. As a licensed occupational therapist, Tim has spent his entire career working to help people. Tim and his wife, Katie, live in the City of Buffalo where they are raising their three children, Connor, Eireann, and Padraic.
Kimberly Jean-Pierre
New York State Assembly Member, District 11
Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre was elected in the 2014 General Election, succeeding Assemblyman Bob Sweeney after he served the 11th Assembly District for 26 years. She is the daughter of parents who migrated from Haiti to the United States. She attended Brooklyn College, and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 2005. In pursuit of her master’s degree she attended Stony Brook University, earning her Master of Science in Public Policy in 2007. Kimberly has a long record of public service in the Long Island region, working as an aide to both Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory and former Congressman Steve Israel, as well as Vice President of Properties at the Town of Babylon Industrial Development Agency. Prior to being elected to the State Assembly in 2014, she was the Director of the Town of Babylon’s Wyandanch Resource Center. In the Assembly, Kimberly has made it her mission to be a strong advocate for Long Island working families. She is a proud member of the Assembly’s Children and Families Committee, and has consistently fought for funding increases for child care and prekindergarten programs in the New York State Budget. As the mother of a three-year-old daughter, Kimberly recognizes firsthand how essential affordable child care to growing our local economies, as well as the need to expand access to early childhood education programs to ensure positive educational outcomes. In addition to her efforts on the needs of children and families, Kimberly has also worked to deliver more resources to her district to address localized flooding, the opioid epidemic, and public school funding. Among her legislative accomplishments, Kimberly in 2019 spearheaded efforts to lower the age requirement for annual mammogram screenings and passed the most comprehensive boating safety legislation in New York State history. She also helped establish New York’s first-ever prescription insulin price cap, and sponsored legislation allowing the state to revoke licenses from real estate brokers and salespersons who engage in discriminatory practices in violation of the state’s human rights law. Outside of school and work Kimberly Jean-Pierre has also demonstrated a commitment to various causes. She is especially involved in the Haitian-American community and is the former Vice-President of Haitian Americans United for Change Inc., (HAUC), a community grass-roots organization. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the HAUC team worked with local not-for-profits, clergy members, local businesses, and various levels of governmental agencies on a Haiti Relief Project as one of the lead organizations; Kimberly was the coordinator of the Haiti Relief Project. She worked tirelessly to organize and sort through thousands of dollars of donated goods including medical supplies, clothing, non-perishable items and more. She also coordinated dozens of volunteers as well as shipment arrangements for donated goods, transportation and storage of donations and much more. Kimberly is also part of the Class of 2014 of the Energeia Partnership at Molloy College. The Energeia Partnership is a leadership academy dedicated to identifying and addressing the serious, complex and multi-dimensional issues challenging the Long Island region. She currently Chairs the Libraries and Education Technology Committee and sits on the Education Committee, the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, the Children and Families Committee and the Banks Committee. She is also part of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Kimberly is a homeowner in Wheatley Heights and is currently raising her five-year old daughter Gianna and her newborn son Neal.
Jessica Ramos
New York State Senator, District 13
Jessica Ramos has spent her life fighting for working families, advocating for labor, and organizing her local community. Born in Elmhurst to an undocumented seamstress and a printing pressman, Jessica was raised in Astoria, attended Queens public schools, and now lives in Jackson Heights with her two sons. A strong union advocate, Ramos worked with Build Up NYC to fight for construction, building and hotel maintenance workers in New York City. Ramos also worked with SSEU Local 371 and 32BJ SEIU, where she helped building maintenance workers, office cleaners and public schools cleaners win contracts that protected their rights, wages, and benefits. Jessica was a member of Queens Community Board 3 and served as Democratic District Leader in the 39th Assembly District. Jessica sat on the boards of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and Farmspot, Jackson Heights’ community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. She has received awards for her work with the LGBTQ community and her advocacy on behalf of Women and Minority-Owned Businesses. As the first American-born in her family, Jessica feels a deep sense of responsibility in bridging the gap between immigrant and non-immigrant communities. Jessica credits her love for activism and public service to her parents, Colombian immigrants who fought for and won the right to dual citizenship for Colombian-Americans and founded Siempre Colombia, a not-for-profit organization in Jackson Heights. Jessica does not have a driver’s license—she rides the subway every day.
State Senator Kevin Parker
Kevin Parker
New York State Senator, District 21
State Senator Kevin S. Parker is a prominent New York State Legislator who is distinguished as a savvy strategist, brilliant intellectual and an elder statesman. His political prowess evident from the moment he was seated in the New York State Senate in 2002 resulted in a meteoric rise through the ranks. At present he is the 5th Ranking Democratic in Senate leadership. Engendering the trust and respect of his colleagues, Senator Parker was appointed Majority Whip and serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Telecommunications with the added distinction of being its longest serving member. A fierce champion of economic development, education, energy, domestic violence issues and human and civil rights, Senator Parker represents the intrinsically diverse 21st Senate District in Brooklyn. He is a leading voice nationwide on energy matters and the creator and primary sponsor of Intersolar Summit Northeast, the largest solar energy conference on the East Coast which gathers experts in the field to discuss real solutions to bringing about a solar energy future. With a strong background in the financial services arena, Senator Parker gained invaluable experience in the world of finance at UBS PaineWebber where he worked in government affairs of the Chairman’s office and focused on broad issues of importance to the financial service industry. As Project Manager with the New York State Urban Development Corporation, he financed women and minority-owned businesses and promoted community business redevelopment. As the Special Assistant to former New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, Senator Parker managed intergovernmental relations in New York City, and was the liaison between the Comptroller; city, state, and federal elected officials. Also an experienced educator, Senator Parker has been a professor of both African-American Studies and Political Science at several CUNY and SUNY colleges. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Service from Penn State and holds a Master of Science Degree from the New School for Social Research in Urban Policy and Management. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is a proud member of the Alpha Chapter of the Pi Eta Honor Society and is oft quoted as saying: Bring good into the world and let no good be lost.”
Leroy Comrie.
Leroy Comrie Jr.
New York State Senator, District 14
New York State Senator Leroy Comrie was elected to represent the 14th Senatorial District of Queens (encompassing portions of Jamaica, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Hollis, St. Albans, Laurelton, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Hillcrest and Kew Gardens) in November 2014, officially taking office January 1, 2015. He grew up in the South Queens communities that he now represents, attending P.S. 116, I.S. 8, Jamaica High School and the University of Bridgeport, where he developed his passion for politics and government. He is a lifelong member of Saint Albans the Martyr Episcopal Church and before he was a public official, he was elected to serve as President of his local Community School Board. Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 legislative term, his committee assignments have included Cities, Consumer Protection; Finance, Racing, Gaming & Wagering; and Rules. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which gives him oversight over the state’s 150+ public authorities such as the MTA, Port Authority, and NYCHA. Senator Comrie believes that government must be responsive to the needs of all people. His office is the conduit through which access to quality education, healthcare, and services for seniors; programs and resources for youth; avenues to enhance small business growth; increased public safety measures; and smart sustainable economic development that provides living wage jobs in the community are provided. Senator Comrie served twelve years as the Deputy Majority Leader of the New York City Council, as well as the Chairman of the Queens Delegation; while holding many distinguished and critical leadership roles. He served as Chair of the Committees on Rules, Consumer Affairs and Land Use during his Council tenure. In those roles, he had broad oversight and direct access over the city’s budget process and legislative agenda often negotiating major concessions between the City Council and the Mayor. Senator Comrie’s positive impact in government is evident with his long track record of legislative accomplishments such as increasing tax exemptions for seniors, instituting the city’s first foreclosure prevention program, curtailing “pay-day” loans, improving the criteria for safety on construction sites, reducing truck traffic emissions, improving electrical and building codes, advocating for the containment of waste transfer stations, and increasing job opportunities by establishing direct-to-work training programs for residents across the city. For the past five years, Senator Comrie has taken his decades of experience to Albany, where he continues to serve the public and work tirelessly with his colleagues to ensure that residents of the 14th Senatorial District and all across New York State have the very best possible opportunities and quality of life. In 2019, Senator Comrie was appointed to the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), the oversight body originally that reviews the financial soundness of plans and approves the project-based spending of a number of the state’s largest authorities. Leroy Comrie, Jr. is the son of the late Ruby Frith-Comrie and the late Leroy Comrie Sr., both of whom immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. He is the brother of Ronald E. Comrie, and has been married to Marcia Moxam since 1990. They are the proud parents of two delightful young adults.
Michael J. Cusick
New York State Assembly Member, District 63
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.
Bill Ferris
Senior Legislative Representative, AARP NY
Bill is AARP’s State Lobbyist located in Albany. He has over 30 years of experience working in the legislative and political process in New York. He has lobbied on behalf of AARP on issues ranging from health, long term care, to Energy affordability and retirement savings issues as well as consumer protections.
Pamela Hunter
New York State Assembly Member, District 128
Pamela Hunter is an Upstate NY native and a U.S. Army veteran, honorably discharged with a commendation medal and two achievement medals. Pamela received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Strayer College in Washington DC with concentrations in Human Resources and Computer Information Systems. She has a Professional Certification in Human Resources. She represents the southern and eastern portions of the City of Syracuse, as well as the surrounding towns of Dewitt, Onondaga, Salina and the Onondaga Nation. Prior to her election to the NYS Assembly in 2015, Pamela served on the Syracuse Common Council for three years and chaired the Public Safety Committee. She has broad professional experience having held executive positions with nonprofit organizations and professional service firms and has served the community on various boards including Catholic Charities, Meals on Wheels and the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency. Pamela is the only female veteran in the state Legislature, giving her unique insight as ¬chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Women Veterans, working to expand access to benefits and services and improve job opportunities for women who’ve served our country. She also serves on the Energy, Insurance, Social Services, Transportation, and Veteran Affairs’ Committees, and is a member of the Black and Puerto Rican Legislators and Women’s Caucuses. This year, Hunter authored legislation to provide assistance to tenants, protect the environment and aide veterans in employment. Pamela is passionate about building a better future for Central New York. She believes that good jobs, improved schools and increased public safety will enhance quality of life and lead to stronger communities and greater success. She lives in Syracuse with her husband and son.

Welcome & Introduction By Jeff Coltin, Senior Reporter, City & State NY



Senator Leroy Comrie, Jr.

Senator Tim Kennedy

Senator Kevin Parker

Senator Jessica Ramos

Assembly Member Michael Cusick

Assembly Member Pamela Hunter

Assembly Member Kimberly Jean-Pierre

Assembly Member Amy Paulin

Bill Ferris, Senior Legislative Representative, AARP NY 


Session Concludes

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