Fighting Rx Abuse: I-STOP Now Law
A new law to help control the epidemic of abuse of prescription controlled substances passed the Assembly and Senate in June and was signed into law on August 27 by Governor Cuomo. It creates a new prescription drug monitoring program, called I-STOP, to restrict "doctor shopping;" creates the nation's first e-prescription system; and promotes provider education on pain management and palliative care to discourage over-prescribing and under-prescribing.
These measures make New York a leader in addressing prescription drug abuse and the growing concern of people across the country. As chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I led the Assembly's negotiation of the bill with Governor Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and the State Senate.
Major provisions of I-STOP would require:
- Physicians and other prescribers will be required to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry before issuing a prescription for a controlled substance. This "real time" monitoring system will help prevent "doctor shopping," and identify for prescribers patients who may be in need of addiction services.
- Prescribers will be required to use electronic prescribing instead of paper prescriptions (with limited exceptions), starting in December 2014 - the first requirement of its kind in the nation. This will help improve legibility and accuracy and prevent theft of prescription pads, forgery, and alterations.
- The Department of Health Prescription Pain Medication Awareness Program to develop methods for improving education and awareness on both over-prescribing and under-prescribing of pain management drugs.
- Coordination between the Department of Health and law enforcement agencies to safe and anonymous disposal of unused prescription drugs at secure locations. To see the full text of the bill, go to http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us and type in bill number A10623.
Hudson River Park Taskforce
The Hudson River Park is well established and well run by the Hudson River Park Trust. As the author of the legislation that created the Park and the Trust, I am gratified by its success and its value to the community. However, the Park faces urgent major capital maintenance needs and no way to pay for them.
The State and City have spent about $400 million to build 70% of the Park plan, and we are fighting for the $250 million to finish the rest. The capital maintenance needs are on top of that. Pier 40 is in serious disrepair and as a result is not collecting as much revenue as expected and needed. The repairs would cost over $100 million. This and other capital maintenance needs make it necessary to revisit the park legislation in order to advance our vision for the park.
The Hudson River Park Trust has established a Task Force to study various options to increase revenue for the park and amend the park legislation. Some of the possible amendments include lengthening the permitted lease term for revenue-producing facilities on Piers 40 and 76 allowing the Trust to issue bonds for those projects, as well as allowing for new revenue-producing uses on those two piers. I believe it is necessary for us to explore these options to increase revenue for the park so that it is properly maintained and completed.
There was no agreement on legislation in June to make the needed changes. I hope this can be done at a special session in December.
Proposed Chelsea Market Expansion
The owner of Chelsea Market has proposed zoning changes that would allow additional development of the property. This would involve adding the site (the full block between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, from West 15th to 16th Streets) to the Special West Chelsea District.
The zoning change application has been making its way through the City's Uniform Land Use Review process and will be voted on by the City Planning Commission and then the City Council.
I oppose the project and submitted testimony at City Planning's public hearing in July. Among other things, it would significantly interfere with enjoyment of the High Line, and I believe the plan is too large. The negatives strongly outweigh any gains the community might receive from this expansion.
The West Chelsea zoning district was created in 2005. At the time, Chelsea Market asked to be excluded from the zoning increase. The new owners want to be included. This plan would dramatically alter an important historic building, with little guarantee of long-term job creation.
I will submit my testimony to the City Council at the public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Joining Tenants in Demanding Stronger Rent Protections
Last year, when the Rent Laws were set to expire, I was proud to be part of the long-fought, successful effort that strengthened protections for the first time in two decades. This was a crucial victory benefiting over one million New Yorkers.
Now the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR) is adopting regulations to implement the new provisions. But HCR also has the opportunity to adopt regulations that can do more for tenants. Tenants and advocates met with the Cuomo administration to share very specific recommendations.
On August 28, HCR held a hearing on its proposed changes to the Rent Stabilization Code. The proposal did not include any of the tenant agenda.
That's not acceptable. We can do better. HCR should be improving oversight over repairs that lead to rent increases; educating tenants about their rights under rent regulation; clarifying and strengthening the rent reduction process; and doing more to ensure that landlords register their rents with the state.
Before the hearing began, I joined Tenants and Neighbors, along with other tenants and housing advocates at a rally and press conference calling on HCR to do more.
West Side Campaign Against Hunger
Founded in 1979, the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) has helped to feed millions of New Yorkers. In 1993, it reorganized as a customer-cooperative supermarket where customers shop for their own food and help run the store, promoting self-reliance, providing food with dignity, and creating customer empowerment. WSCAH's progress has been tremendous: it offers social services programs, nutrition education and wellness workouts, English as a Second Language classes, and has created a food resource and referral guide with over 600 contacts in it.
I was delighted to join the West Side Campaign Against Hunger to honor 41 volunteers this past July for a Volunteer Recognition Day. Resources like WSCAH that make our community, and all of New York, a better place to live. For more information about WSCAH, visit their Web site.
Primary Day is Thursday, September 13
Primary elections are when registered voters of a particular political party select the candidate they want to run for the general election in November. In New York, this year's Primary Day for various offices is Thursday, September 13. Elections are typically on a Tuesday, but the state legislature moved it this year to Thursday to avoid a conflict with September 11 observances.
The key races on the Primary ballot in our area are selection of a candidate to succeed State Senator Tom Duane, who is not running for re-election; Surrogate Court judge, Civil Court judge, and judicial nominating convention delegates.
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