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Spectrum News – Health Chairs to Lawmakers: Don’t Alter Bail Law

The top lawmakers on the Assembly and state Senate health committees, in a letter Tuesday, urged against making changes to the state’s bail law, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.

In the letter, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Sen. Gustavo Rivera warned that making changes could lead to more people in jails, creating an increase risk for people to contract the coronavirus.

Press release: Assembly Manhattan Delegation Releases Report Urging NYCHA Funding in State Budget

Today, the Manhattan Assembly delegation issued a report, NYCHA Crisis: Finding Tenant Solutions, that details the living conditions of several NYCHA developments across Manhattan, and urges New York State to commit substantial and consistent funding for NYCHA’s most urgent capital needs.

“Written prior to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the pandemic further highlights that, for over 400,000 NYCHA tenants in substandard housing, the public housing crisis is a public health crisis,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, the dean and Chair of the Manhattan Assembly Delegation.  “New York State can act now with serious funding commitments and lead the way towards the restoration of NYCHA.”

NY Post: Cuomo panel recommends $400M in hospital cuts as coronavirus pandemic rages

It’s unclear whether the Legislature or even the governor, who must approve the changes as part of the state budget, have the stomach to cut spending to medical facilities grappling with an expected wave of COVID-19 patients and a potential health catastrophe, as well as rolling back Medicaid services to patients.

“It’s never a good time to cut health care, especially when the only rationale is to fit into an artificial limit. It’s even more wrong in the midst of a growing epidemic,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan).

Legislative Gazette – Health Committee chairs: Now is the time to keep people out of jails

“Everyone is pointing out that jails and prisons are a hotbed of spreading contagion,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the Health Committee. “Our bail reform has [kept] more people out of that pot of bumbling contagion.“Coming in and out and infecting other inmates, infecting personnel, and when they come out, infecting their neighbors,” Gottfried said.

Gottfried and Senate Health Chair Gustavo Rivera sent a letter to every fellow lawmaker on Tuesday denouncing efforts to rollback bail reform during a health emergency.

Politico: Door-to-door campaigning gets much more daunting amid coronavirus

“This is not the best time to be sending people door-to-door,” he said. “It’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do. I don’t know the specific solution, but I know it’s something we have to address.”

In the two days between those comments, grumbling from a handful of candidates has turned into a more widespread uproar.“[M]y campaign is immediately suspending efforts to collect further petition signatures for ballot access,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney announced.

“I’m working to make it easier for candidates to get on the ballot in districts affected by COVID-19, and I’m suspending my own efforts to gather signatures for my candidacy for re-election,” tweeted Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan).

City & State: The fight to regulate pharmacy benefit managers

Democratic lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature passed legislation last year that would regulate pharmacy benefit managers in New York for the first time. Independent pharmaciescheered. Insurers and manufacturers – who own some PBMs – not so much. Huge sums were at stake, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended up vetoing the bill last December. But the governor left the door open for lawmakers to send a new bill this year if it addressed five concerns he had in the original legislation. That could happen in the coming months, according to Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, who sponsored the original bill.

Daily News: Lawmakers and legal experts call Cuomo coronavirus bill a power grab

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), the chairman of his chamber’s Health Committee, argued during a late-night floor debate on Monday that no past governor has ever asked for the powers Cuomo requested during any previous public health emergencies.

“The governor and health commissioner have, for decades, had extraordinarily broad executive powers,” he told the Daily News on Tuesday. “I’ve never heard a governor or health commissioner in any disaster or emergency say that there was something that needed to get done that couldn’t get done because of a lack of what this bill does.”

January-February Health Committee Update

The Assembly Health Committee favorably reported 31 bills at its January and February meetings.  The Committee reported bills to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers; reform the distribution of indigent care pool funds for hospitals serving low-income patients; create an emerging contaminants monitoring list in order to ensure that all water systems in New York are tested for potentially dangerous chemicals, lower lead levels in school water, and provide insurance coverage for medical marijuana.

Evening Observer: Assembly approves bill to aid blood drives

“This bill would create a program of grants to help community groups and schools run blood drives,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-New York City and legislation sponsor wrote in his legislative justification. “When community organizations or schools conduct blood drives, the blood bank generally pays for the cost of the blood collection itself. But the blood banks do not pay for promotional activities such as mailings to an organization’s members, or the cost of the space if this cost exists.”

City & State: Should sex workers still end up in handcuffs?

While Salazar settled into her new role in Albany, advocates and organizers looked for other decriminalization allies in the state Legislature. During an event celebrating the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which banned conversion therapy and discrimination based on gender identity, transgender community members approached Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. The activists primed Gottfried on the next priority in their agenda: the full decriminalization of sex work. “We think there needs to be a bill,” they told him, and they wanted him to help carry it. Would he do it? A member of the Assembly since 1971, Gottfried said he had “believed for decades” that the harms associated with sex work were “overwhelmingly the result of the illegality of it.” He said he would. Two of his colleagues in the Assembly, Dan Quart and Catalina Cruz, signed on as co-sponsors soon after.