Contact: Mike Fraser, (518) 859-8518
The 2016 session calendar has precious few days left, and while the Assembly Majority appears content to meander through June passing one-house bills with no chance of becoming law, our Conference is demanding action on a number of items that have widespread support and will protect New Yorkers, improve their quality of life and give them a fair chance at prosperity.
New York is full of hard-working people and wonderful natural resources, yet the state is continually ranked at or near the bottom of poll after poll with respect to taxes and business climate, and leads the country in out-migration. Albany's dysfunction is a national embarrassment, yet we still do not have meaningful ethics reform. A statewide heroin epidemic is claiming the lives of New Yorkers on a daily basis, yet comprehensive proposals from the Assembly Minority Conference and Senate Majority are needlessly stalled. This is unacceptable. As we wind down the last few days of session, we must do what the people of New York sent us to Albany to do, enact laws that improve the lives of every New Yorker.
HEROIN CRISIS NEEDS ACTION NOW
People across this state are desperate for solutions to the heroin epidemic that is tearing apart families and uprooting communities. The state Department of Health has revealed that in 26 of the state's 62 counties, the number of heroin-related deaths doubled between 2010 and 2014. Yet, the Assembly is more inclined to pass resolutions about cold breakfast cereal than it is to address this staggering public health emergency. Where is the logic in that? Heroin overdoses have eclipsed car crashes as the state's leading cause of accidental death, but the Majority continues to fail to address the gravity of the situation.
The Assembly Minority has developed a thorough plan which includes critical legislation focused on prevention and treatment of opioid and heroin addiction, and cracking down on the drug dealers poisoning our neighborhoods. We have stood with parents, representatives from advocacy organizations and our colleagues in the state Senate and urged the Assembly to take up and pass heroin and opioid abuse legislation this session. There are seven session days remaining. Politics aside, we must take this first step down the very long road of prevention, treatment and recovery for the people of this state.
THE 'APPETITE' FOR ETHICS REFORM IS REAL
For certain, the 2016 session has been historic, but for all the wrong reasons. This year we watched two of the state's most powerful legislative leaders be tried and convicted of corruption. And yet, true ethics reform is at a literal standstill. Recently, public opinion polls showed that 97 percent of New Yorkers believe it is important to pass anti-corruption reforms before the end of session. The Assembly Minority couldn't agree more, except to say it believes 100 percent that ethics issues need to be addressed before the Legislature takes a final lap around the Capitol.
The Legislature and governor need to wake up and realize that the "appetite" to effect change in Albany and across this state is there and warranted. The Assembly Minority has been, and will continue to be, outspoken advocates for implementing dramatic changes to the broken system to which so many have grown accustomed.
BRITTANY'S LAW WILL SAVE LIVES
Brittany's Law would create a registry of violent felony offenders similar to the sex offender registry established by Megan's Law. It passed the Senate six times with bipartisan support and despite Majority sponsorship in the Assembly, Brittany's Law (A.1833, Gunther) has inexplicably not been given a chance on the floor. For no good reason, this important and potentially life-saving legislation has been blocked year after year. It would be a gross failure on the part of the Assembly Majority to let another session go by without giving this bill its due. The Majority's pattern of inaction with respect to thoughtful legislation is evidence of its troubling habit of choosing politics over people. This must end.
The law is named after Brittany Passalacqua, a 12-year-old girl from Geneva who was murdered along with her mother, Helen Buchel, in 2009 by a man previously incarcerated for assaulting his infant daughter.
SMALL BUSINESSES ARE REELING
The state's business climate is dismal and job growth is suffocated by crushing mandates, including a disastrous minimum wage hike. According to the Tax Foundation, New Yorkers have the worst state and local tax burden in the nation, paying 12.7 percent of their income toward those taxes. How are businesses expected to grow under these conditions? Eliminating regulatory burdens and enacting broad tax cuts - as called for in my Small Business Full Employment Act - are the only ways to get New York's economy back on track.
Gimmicks like START-UP NY have failed, and the blatant secrecy behind the program's results-a report on the program's job creation was expected months ago- is evidence it's time to look elsewhere for real results. The Assembly Majority and governor don't seem to get it; headlines and press conferences do not drive the economy. It takes a concerted effort by the Legislature and governor's office that includes meat-and-potato, holistic legislation aimed at sustained growth.
These last few days of session can go one of two ways; they can be filled with bills that truly get at the heart of all that's wrong with New York, or they can be forgettable filler that dances around change and achieves little. I urge my colleagues and the governor to ensure the former, rather than the latter, for the sake of all New Yorkers.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.