Assemblyman DenDekker: a bag tax is not the solution
Assemblyman DenDekker continued to stand against the 5-cent fee on plastic bags calling it a regressive tax on New York's seniors and the working poor, that would do little to reduce the amount of plastic bag waste.
"As a former member of the Department of Sanitation, I am very sensitive to the need to remove plastic bags from our waste stream," said Assemblyman DenDekker. "Unfortunately, a bag fee is not the most efficient way to do this, and worst of all it represents a regressive tax on hardworking New Yorkers. Bag fees add up, and while people at higher income levels may not be affected by an extra quarter on their weekly grocery bill, there are many New Yorkers for whom this is a serious problem. Moreover, because the extra fee goes directly to the businesses, the bags represent an extra sournce of revenue, and there is no incentive for storeowners or cashiers to actually reduce the number of bags they give to consumers. There is no question that we create entirely too much plastic bag waste in the city of New York. But we need to work to reduce this waste in a way that is more efficient and less costly to New Yorkers than a bag fee."
Assemblyman DenDekker has introduced a bill in the Assembly that would ban plastic carry-out bags in the City of New York. The bill requires that stores instead supply customers with 100% post-consumer recycled paper bags and/or biodegradable bags, or, alternatively, give customers a reusable plastic bag for a deposit, which can be returned for a full refund.
Governor Cuomo has signed into law a bill sponsored by Assemblyman DenDekker, which allows New York State to better enforce the existing window tinting regulations. The law adds the examination of tinted or shaded windows into the New York State Motor Vehicle Inspection, and states that window glass tinted darker than 27% light transmittance would not pass inspection.
“I am very pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed this bill into law, and I thank him for taking this step to protect New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst). “This law is a simple matter of public safety. Windows that are tinted too darkly prevent drivers from being able to make eye contact with other drivers to understand their intent, and also hampers law enforcement officers’ ability to observe any potential illegal activity within a car. We have seen tragic fatalities, both intentional and accidental, as a result of tinted windows. This law will ensure that these dangerous vehicles cannot be on the streets of New York.”
Assemblyman DenDekker joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and other law enforcement leaders to call on Governor Cuomo to sign this law and protect the lives of police officers in New York. Among those in attendance were Tanya Timoshenko and Sergeant Herman Yan, the mother and the former partner, respectively, of Detective Russel Timoshenko, who was killed after stopping a car with illegally tinted windows in 2007.
This law went into effect on January 1, 2017.
Assemblyman DenDekker (D- East Elmhurst) has introduced two new pieces of legislation to increase the effectiveness of speed cameras, cracking down on unsafe drivers, and protecting New Yorkers from traffic-related injuries and fatalities. The proposals to improve pedestrian safety would eliminate the current time restrictions on the use of school speed cameras, and suspend the registration of a vehicle after five traffic camera violations.
Currently, the use of these speed monitoring devices in school areas is limited to periods of operational school hours, including one hour before and after the beginning and end of the school day. In addition, the speed cameras operate during student activities, and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after these activities take place. The proposed legislation would remove this temporal limitation, and allow these speed cameras to be operational during hours when school is not in session.
The registration bill establishes that if a vehicle has five traffic camera violations in one year, then that vehicle’s registration will be suspended for six months. The suspension will begin five days after the notice of liability for the fifth violation has been mailed. This law would exempt rental cars, however, it does not exempt cars owned by businesses. Under current law, a moving violation cannot be issued for a traffic camera violation, only a fine can be issued to the owner of the car.
“The most important work we do as legislators is to protect the safety and well-being of our citizens. One way that we can do that is to hold reckless drivers accountable, which is what these two bills do,” said Assemblymember DenDekker. “Schools are safe places that attract students during all hours, including evenings and weekends. Lifting the time on speed cameras in school zones will ensure that these areas stay safe for kids all of the time, not just during school hours. The second bill suspends a car’s registration for six months if that car has five traffic camera violations in one year. This penalizes habitually dangerous drivers who create unnecessary risks in our communities. These bills help keep Queens, and all of New York, a safe place for pedestrians.”
Assemblyman Michael DenDekker recently unveiled the 9/11 Fallen Heroes Mural in Jackson Heights, which honors three local residents who were killed in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center: Marcello Matricciano, Edward Lehman, and James Cartier. Assemblyman DenDekker was joined by the families of those being honored, as well as Councilman Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
“The September 11 attacks were a terrible tragedy and the aftereffects are still being felt throughout this city and in this neighborhood,” said DenDekker. “This mural is a way for us as a community to remember those whose lives were senselessly taken too soon. As a September 11 responder myself, I am honored to live in a community that has worked with these families and with Groundswell to bring this art and this memorial to Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst communities.
Community proved to be a theme of the afternoon, with speakers emphasizing the close-knit nature of the neighborhood, and thanking the owners of N&R Deli, a local institution, for donating the outside wall of the deli for the mural. Additionally, the mural was painted by Groundswell, a non-profit organization that brings professional artists together with local student artists to create socially conscious public art. It was paid for by community donations and a pasta dinner fundraiser.
N&R Deli is located on 78th Street and 25th Avenue.
Assembly Member Michael DenDekker represents New York’s 34th Assembly District, which includes Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, and part of Woodside. Mr. DenDekker was first elected to the New York State Assembly on November 4, 2008, and was elected to his third term in November of 2012. Prior to entering the New York State Assembly, he was elected District Leader in 2002, and served on Community Board #3. He also served as the chairman of the Neighborhood Advisory Board, as well as a past Deputy Chief for the Jackson-Heights Elmhurst Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Between 1998 and 2002, he worked part-time as a district representative for New York State Assembly Member Margaret Markey.
A lifelong resident of his district, Mr. DenDekker was born in Jackson Heights and attended Our Lady of Fatima Grammar School, Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School and SUNY at Farmingdale where he majored in Automotive Technology.
After college, Mr. DenDekker worked as a Banquet Manager for Dante Caterers and as an Account Representative for MetLife. In 1995, he joined the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) where he was assigned to the collection of household refuse and recycling in Woodside. Mr. DenDekker was promoted to the Rank of Supervisor in the Department and later assigned to the Bureau of Public Information and Community Affairs. After the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Den Dekker was detached to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) where he was assigned to the Joint Information Center as a Public Information Officer. In this capacity, Mr. DenDekker was responsible for assisting with the proper dissemination of information and statistics as they related to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Assembly Member DenDekker’s achievements during and after the World Trade Center disaster have been recognized with numerous decorations and awards. In March 2003, Mr. DenDekker was given additional responsibilities as a Special Projects Coordinator, where he worked on the Ready NY campaign, Public Service announcements, and the OEM Speakers Bureau. In March of 2006, Mr. DenDekker retired from the DSNY and his assignment at OEM to take an appointment as the Facilities Manager for the New York City Council. While at the City Council, he was responsible for all day-to-day operations of all City Council Member office facilities, as well as assisting in the operation of City Hall.
Since taking office, Assemblyman DenDekker has authored several important bills that draw upon his interests in the environment, public safety, and consumer affairs. Much of the legislation initiated by Mr. DenDekker was suggested by his constituents. Among these landmark pieces of legislation is A. 8530, which would amend the criminal procedure law to allow anyone charged with an offense the ability to call any telephone number in the United States for the purpose of obtaining counsel and informing a relative or friend; A.6278 would exempt volunteer ambulance services from paying tolls; A. 6960 would prohibit credit card issuers from requiring payment of any debt on weekends or on any federal and state holiday; A.6961 would create a forty-eight hour grace period from the due date of a credit card bill; A. 11121, which would develop a cigarette butt recycling program in New York State; A11080, which would prohibit the distribution, sale, or offer for sale of tires that are more than six years old; A. 11078, which would prohibit protests from being made within 1,000 feet of a bereavement service; A. 11077, which would increase the time for filing a crime victim’s claim; and A. 11076, which would establish as a class E felony the offense of aggravated endangering the welfare of a child. Additionally, in 2012, Mr. DenDekker’s legislation to establish a voluntary state database for video camera surveillance was signed into law by the Governor. Between 2010 and 2012, Mr. DenDekker played an instrumental role in bringing the retired space shuttle Enterprise to New York City as part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
In each legislative instance, Assembly Member DenDekker has evidenced a strong commitment to the environment, health, safety, and consumer affairs.
Mr. DenDekker is also an accomplished actor. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, he has appeared in several films and television shows. Assemblyman DenDekker and his wife Angela reside in Jackson Heights and have four children – Michael, Linda, the late Elizabeth Delaney, and Jason. They are also proud grandparents of four grandchildren: Jasen, Justin, Michael and Vincent.