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Preview – Senate To Consider Bills To Bolster Unemployment Fund, Certify Voting Machines And Limit Hospital Charges

TRENTON – New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin will be in attendance at Thursday’s Senate meeting before the Senate considers a range of bills, including legislation that will strengthen the State’s unemployment insurance fund, provide for the certification of voting machines and prohibit hospitals from charging uninsured individuals more than 15% above Medicare rates.

The Senate will be honoring Coughlin and the rest of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants at the beginning of the voting session.

Bill S-1698, sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono, would appropriate $260 million dollars to the State’s unemployment compensation fund from the FY08 Budget surplus. The bill would also temporarily change the date on which the fund’s balance is calculated from March 31 to June 30 for 2008 only. The bill’s aim is to prevent an automatic increase in employer payroll taxes triggered by a low balance in the fund.

Also on Thursday’s docket is S-1739, sponsored by Senators Nicholas Scutari and Loretta Weinberg. The bill would update the existing voting machine certification process to be more responsive to new voting technology, including electronic voting machines. This bill would increase the membership of the committee from three to five members, at least two of which must have expertise in computer science and technology.

Finally, the Senate will consider S-1797/A-2609, sponsored by Senator Weinberg. The measure limits the rates hospitals can charge to uninsured patients earning under 500% of the federal poverty level. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) would be required to develop a sliding scale based on income to determine the exact amount – between 0% and %15 percent – that a patient would be charged.

The voting session will start at 2 p.m.

Also meeting on Thursday is the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The Committee will consider two measures aimed at reforming the State’s eminent domain laws. The Committee will meet at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 1 of the State House Annex.

The full agenda is attached and also available on the Senate Democrats website at

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