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Need-to-Know News: May 17-21, 2010

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Updates from Us

DVD Screening, 5-18-10
  • LAC’s video collaboration with the Organization for Visual Progression, “Your Rights, Your Future: Preparing for Reentry,” had a crowd-rousing premier at the Discharge Planning Collaboration’s bi-annual retreat, left, held May 19  in Manhattan.
  • We’ve had an Internet revolution!
    1. You can now find us on Facebook and Twitter; and don’t forget about our RSS feed.)
    2. We’ve overhauled our homepage to help you find what you’re looking for.
    3. We’ve expanded and renamed our blog: “Of Substance and Justice,” will cover all our issues, in New York and nationally.
    4. We’ve started this newsletter, “Need-to-Know News,” to keep you in the loop. Note: If you’re getting this as an e-mail from our blog, please sign up again here, so you continue to receive our updates.

Read more…

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“Heads Up!” Cuts Endanger Reforms to Rockefeller Drug Laws

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

The LAC’s own Anita Marton is quoted in a Capitol News story on how the state’s fiscal problems are threatening  much-needed Alternative to Incarceration programs:

One Year After Passage, Rockefeller Reforms Could Be Gutted By Budget Cuts

More State Budget News

New York state budget late for 15th day as senators squabble (Albany Times Union)

Lawmakers: The parks won’t close, so give us money for now (Albany Times Union)

Action Alert!

Tell Your Lawmakers Not to Cut Funds for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

From our partners Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State

Action Alert! Senate Moves to Cut Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

From our partners in the Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers coalition (ASAP).

The Senate passed a budget resolution earlier this week that reduces funding to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) by millions of dollars. It is expected that the Assembly will soon pass its own resolution, and that the two chambers would then conference to come up with compromise budget that would be sent to the governor.

With the worsening state fiscal picture, we have been focusing our efforts on trying to keep what the governor proposed for OASAS. It is critical that everyone calls their Senator (518-455-2800) and Assembly member (518-455-4100) with the message that we cannot afford to cutting OASAS at a time when we are trying to address implementation of drug law reform and an increasing number of deaths related to opiate overdoses. Please make those calls TODAY.

Read more…

HANYS Launches “Cutzilla” to Brings Focus Back to Health Care Taxes and Cuts in State Budget

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This week, the Healthcare Association of New York (HANYS) launched www.stopcutzilla.org,  an online initiative aimed at bringing focus back to what they describe as “dangerous health care taxes and cuts in the state budget.” In addition to the initial video featured on the site, visitors can enter their zip codes to learn more about how health care cuts in the budget will affect their communities.

In a statement, Association President Daniel Sisto said, “Today we release a video called Cutzilla that intends to harness the power of YouTube to break through the media din being fueled by recent events. The video uses an unconventional approach to make our point about the dangers associated with the Governor’s $1 billion in new health care taxes and cuts. The potential impacts of these actions are tremendously serious.

The Legislature must act decisively to mitigate these troubling health care provider taxes and cuts.”


Latest New York State and City Policy Updates: Week of March 8, 2010

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Policy update from our colleagues at ASAP

New York State – Budget

  • Budget continues to refine the numbers for both this year and next. The Consensus Report last week dropped the revenue forecast for both years combined, by $750 million, and wrote that receipts could be even lower. The combined deficit now stands at $9 billion prior to the actions proposed in the Executive Budget. With the additional $750 million hole identified last week, additional actions will need to be proposed, unless spending estimates are reduced (the Legislature and Executive have not yet reached agreement on that side of the ledger).
  • Budget has announced that a plan is being developed to manage cash flow needs for the remainder of this fiscal year. The plan will undoubtedly hold all payments not deemed “critical”. For local assistance payments, any payment with held must eventually be paid unless an agreement with the Legislature is reached to eliminate or reduce the payment, as part of a budget agreement with accompanying language inserted in the budget. It would be prudent to prepare for a delay in any payment scheduled over the next month or two.
  • State Comptroller DiNapoli’s Statement on the Consensus Revenue Forecast

“The overall revenue consensus number looks reasonable. But there are still some questionable and risky revenue assumptions. The VLT revenues from Aqueduct and the Battery Park City Authority revenues are two very big ifs.

“I called last year’s budget a buy time budget, and we all saw what happened when time ran out. The consensus is a good start, but this year’s budget process must be better than last year’s. Everyone in Albany has to learn the lesson that New York families already know: the state has to align its spending with its revenue.

  • The Daily News is reporting that Lt. Governor Ravitch is considering long-term borrowing to manage the state’s budget deficit.

Gov. Richard Ravitch’s plan to rescue New York from deficit may include selling bonds to cover state expenses. New York would borrow its way out of its crippling money mess and add billions to the state’s debt, under a plan Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch is piecing together. Albany would sell bonds to cover operating expenses under one controversial cure being floated by Ravitch, who is working on a four-year long-term plan to stabilize the state’s finances. So-called deficit borrowing is frowned on by watchdogs and could damage the state’s credit rating. Gov. Paterson has warned that to do so might make borrowing more costly. To avoid having to get voter approval for adding to the state’s already staggering $60.4 billion debt load, Ravitch’s plan would look to issue the bonds through a public authority. And to make the backdoor borrowing more palatable to the Legislature, particularly fiscally conservative Republicans, he would likely propose a host of budget reforms to balance out the borrowing bonanza.” For more information go to www.nydailynews.com

New York City

  • MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the appointment of a Charter Revision Commission to review the entire City Charter and propose to City voters any possible amendments that would improve it. The Mayor charged the commission with examining the changes made by the 1988 and 1989 Charter Revision Commissions, and other subsequent changes, in light of the lessons learned over the past two decades and the new challenges and opportunities that have since arisen. The Mayor also charged the commission with conducting an extensive outreach campaign that solicits ideas and recommendations from a wide variety of civic and community leaders, and that encourages the public to participate in hearings that will take place in all five boroughs. The Mayor appointed Dr. Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of the City University of New York, to chair the commission, and John Banks, former Chief of Staff at the New York City Council, to serve as Vice-Chair.

NYC – Budget

The NY City Council has begun to hold hearings on the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget.

Action Alert! Syringe Access Bill (S.5620) Close to Passing Senate: Make 2 Calls TODAY

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

On February 23, you were a critical part of our successful outreach to members of the New York Senate Codes Committee, urging them to pass through an Expanded Syringe Access bill (S.5620).

Today, we’re asking you to stand with us again.

Later today the bill will come to a vote  on the Senate floor. Our legislators need to hear that there is community support for this bill. We encourage both individuals and agencies to reach out.

Legal Action Center strongly supports this legislation as part of our Clean Syringe Access advocacy in our HIV/AIDS policy work. Our partners at V.O.C.A.L and NYCAHN have provided  an excellent overview of the bill and suggested script for calls.

Please call now!

Syringe Access Bill Close to Passing Senate:

Please Make Two Calls To Key Senators To Promote Syringe Access in New York!

Thank you for your advocacy to move forward a bill (S.5620) in the New York Senate that would promote public health and safety by improving syringe access. We need your voice again – the full Senate will vote on the syringe access bill on Wednesday, March 3rd!

By amending the penal code to clarify that lawful possessing new and used syringes does not violate paraphernalia or controlled substances laws, the bill would reduce police harassment of people who participate in syringe access programs. Furthermore, it would require the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to educate law enforcement about syringe access policies.

Please make two calls to these key Senators:

  • Senator John Bonacic: (518) 455-3181
  • Senator Hannon: (518) 455-2200
  • Sample message for phone calls:

    “Hi, I’m calling to let Senator ___________ know that I strongly support Senate bill number 5620, which is up for a vote today. This bill would follow-up on a law signed by Governor Pataki that expanded public health syringe access programs in New York. Passing this legislation would improve public safety by encouraging safe and proper disposal of used syringes. And it would prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C by encouraging people to use sterile syringes and access services at syringe access programs. Thank you.”

    Legislative Gazette: Health Chairs Join in AIDS Advocates’ Fight

    March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

    February 23, 2010 marked this year’s Albany AIDS Awareness Day, sponsored by the New York AIDS Coalition and the New York HIV Care Networks. (Read the Coalition’s Budget Agenda and Policy Agenda)

    James Nani of the Legislative Gazette reported on the advocacy day, its goals and supporters:

    Health Chairs Join in AIDS Advocates’ Fight

    “Members of the New York AIDS Coalition have asked legislators to restore spending for HIV and AIDS services to 2008-2009 budget levels.

    “The HIV epidemic has not gone away; this is still a massive concern,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, at an HIV/AIDS awareness day event in Albany. “

    Read the full article here.