It's the Penultimate Edition of our 2019 Legislative Report Card Series, brought to you by GPNY Summer Intern Dylan Lynch! We've been breaking down what Democrats in Albany achieved (or failed to achieve) in the legislative session, with control of both houses and the governor's mansion. This week: Cuomo and the Leg decriminalized marijuana...OR DID THEY? (Spoiler: Only sort-of!)
New York, over the past twenty years, has become what the Drug Policy Alliance calls the “marijuana arrest capital of the world.” During this time, in lamentable depths of the so-called “tough on crime” era, there were over 800,000 arrests for small scale marijuana possession with, on average, sixty people being arrested statewide per day for the offense. Despite the fact that marijuana consumption is rather equally balanced amongst race and ethnicity, Latino and African-American individuals consistently made up roughly 80% of those arrested on marijuana charges in New York City. And in 2016 that percentage was 85%, the highest since 2006 when it reached 89% under Michael Bloomberg. These arrests, no matter how minor the offense, leave longstanding records that hinder the formerly arrested/incarcerated from gaining or re-gaining employment and housing, thus further exacerbating the racial wealth gap structurally maintained by our “New Jim Crow”: the drug war and mass incarceration.Read more
Welcome to the third post in our series breaking down what Democrats in Albany achieved (or failed to achieve) in the legislative session, having gained control of both houses and the governor's mansion. We've been pretty blunt about the half-measures (or no-measures) the Dems have squandered their majority on, this year, but we want to show some appreciation for two bills that labor and community activists fought hard to get passed that will improve working conditions for farm workers and restore mobility and autonomy to undocumented immigrants in New York. GPNY 2019 Summer Intern Dylan Lynch explains.
We speak of the United States’ rich history of militant labor struggle perhaps less often than we should, enjoying its hard-earned fruits without the perspective needed to continue to foster its vital legacy. We must pay close attention not only to this courageous history, but to how this movement continues to fight for justice into the present day. Fortunately, this past legislative session, New York added one more significant achievement to this longstanding workers’ tradition by passing Assembly bill A8419, the Farm Laborers Fair Protection Act, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 17th.Read more
Welcome to the second post in our series breaking down what Democrats in Albany achieved (or failed to achieve) in the legislative session, having gained control of both houses and the governor's mansion. Cuomo says they achieved "99.9%" of what they wanted. So...what explains the New York Health Act for single payer going MIA? GPNY 2019 Summer Intern Dylan Lynch explains.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given our penchant for fostering violence, death, and religiously upholding the “infallible” market wherever we leave a trail, the United States willfully and irresponsibly persists as the only “major” nation on the planet to refuse guaranteed healthcare to all its residents through some form of single payer system. To this day, 30,000-45,000 people across the nation die annually from a lack of healthcare – more than the casualty equivalent of a “domestic” Vietnam War every two years. Nearly one million people remain uninsured in New York state alone, while countless more are woefully underinsured, incapable of affording skyrocketing deductibles and prescription drug prices (in fact, fifty-seven-percent of Americans cannot afford a five-hundred-dollar emergency without going into debt, and when we speak of crippling debt we’re really talking about a form of bondage to a system of predatory institutions).Read more
This post is the first in a series that will break down what Democrats in Albany achieved in the legislative session with their control of both houses and the governor's mansion. Cuomo and other leading Democrats promised "historic" results. Did they deliver? When it comes to the climate crisis, the answer is a resounding "No", as GPNY 2019 Summer Intern Dylan Lynch explains.
The response to New York’s passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) should not be an unquestioning victory party, but rather a skeptical postmortem. The “landmark” legislation, which promises to cut carbon emissions by 85% of 1990 levels (the further 15% will be covered by carbon offset projects) by 2050, and the Democrats supporting it, practice and promote their own form of odious climate change denial. Theirs is driven by a neoliberal obsession with political “maturity” and “feasibility,” given credence by a political class determined to maintain current socioeconomic power structures into a “greener future” rather than fundamentally alter the relations that have led us into oligarchy and to the brink of climate catastrophe. The CLCPA is the type of milquetoast legislation that offends no one, does just enough to warrant calling it a victory, and changes nothing fundamentally significant about our political realities, present and future alike — leaving us perfectly set up for a “milder” climate catastrophe and potential civilizational collapse than the Republicans would deliver.Read more