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State Senate Task Force Offers Recommendations To Address Sandy Issues

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Several bills in Albany are expected to address major problems and issues created by Hurricane Sandy, and a bipartisan state Senate task force has come up with recommendations that include cracking down on insurance companies and certifying mold remediation work. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The Hurricane Sandy task force first convened last year to assess damage from the storm and determine what kind of legislation would help meet the needs of affected communities.

"This is a very long process," said State Senator Malcolm Smith of Queens. "Just as we have visited so many areas around the city, Long Island, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens. As we go through it, we are learning stuff every day."

The task force is not operating in a vacuum. They are working closely with the governor's office and others.

One issue under consideration is how to make insurance companies more accountable. That may include new, stricter state regulations.

"One of the things we all have seen is that insurance companies have responded to this crisis differently," said State Senator Lee Zeldin of Long Island.

Other ideas include granting local communities the authority to give property tax rebates to damaged homes, and keeping better track of evacuees. Overlapping state and city jurisdictions led to some early confusion about where some residents had been relocated following the storm.

"I think something as simple as having a senior registry in infected communities or communities that are near the water that would be impacted by a storm," said State Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.

Several people have also complained that mold was improperly removed by contractors who might have been operating under false pretenses

"Mold is an interesting thing," said State Senator Diane Savino, whose district encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island. "It should be considered a public health hazard, and in fact, that's one of the suggestions that we're going to possibly make. Also, there's no required certification or licensing for mold removal or mold remediation."

At this point, there are no specific bills, just broad outlines of what the legislation should look like. However, over the next several days and weeks, those bills are expected to be written. And in February, the state Senate at least, is expected to take action.

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