Press Release – Gottfried Calls for Rent Freeze

After Rent Guidelines Board Report on Landlord Operating Costs, Assembly Member Gottfried Calls for Rent Freeze or Rent Reduction

(New York, April 21, 2015) – Following Thursday’s report by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) showing that landlord operating costs in the city’s approximately 1,000,000 rent-stabilized apartments increased by just 0.5% in the past year, Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D/WFP-Manhattan) called on the RGB to freeze or lower rents for rent-stabilized tenants renewing leases between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.

In his April 17 statement, Assembly Member Gottfried said:

“Too many New Yorkers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, particularly when it comes to the increasingly high cost of housing.  With landlords realizing huge cost savings in the past year, as Thursday’s Rent Guidelines Board report confirms, it’s time for the Board to pass those savings on to tenants.

Capital NY – City, Health Officials Back Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

By Nidhi Prakash

During a state Assembly hearing in Manhattan on Monday, city officials and medical experts expressed their support for legislation that would require any drink that contains added sugar and is sold in New York State to come with a label warning of the potential health risks, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

“I would like to think that a warning label is education, informing people,” said Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, who introduced the bill in January.

During the joint hearing of the Assembly’s health committee and consumer affairs and protection committee, officials from the city’s consumer affairs and health departments, along with medical experts from New York University’s medical school and the American Diabetes Association, testified in support of the legislation.

Gay City News: Chelsea, With Highest HIV, Syphilis Rates, Loses City Clinic

BY ANDY HUMM 

The well-known Chelsea STD clinic on Ninth Ave. at 28th St., run by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Health in the neighborhood with New York’s highest HIV and syphilis infection rates, was shuttered for two to three years for renovations on March 21.

Patients are being directed more than 70 blocks north to the Riverside STD clinic at 160 W. 100th St., leaving no such facilities in Manhattan south of there, but three in and around Harlem. Relocating clinic services in Midtown or Downtown was deemed to be “prohibitively expensive” by the department. The shuttered clinic was in an area that a few years ago lost its only hospital — St. Vincent’s in the West Village — to luxury condo development.

Community testing facilities are scrambling to pick up the slack, with some in place and some not and with the department yet to promote them as alternatives.

The department poster on the closure only refers patients to W. 100th St.

Video – Health Care Interview on Manhattan Public Access

I sat down with Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, to discuss the health budget, Medicaid reform, and single payer healthcare:

WAMC: NY Medical Marijuana Regulations Up

By Dave Lucas, 4/2/15

With public and media attention squarely focused on the New York state budget agreement, the Department of Health on Tuesday quietly filed regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program.

New York posted final regulations for the state medical marijuana program, sticking to the original script: not varying far from the much-criticized draft regulations that first appeared months ago.

Longtime Manhattan Assemblyman Dick Gottfried sponsored the law. The Democrat, a champion of medical marijuana, believes the final regulations are needlessly restrictive and “gratuitously cruel.”  “I don’t know how anyone would get a license to produce and dispense medical marijuana in New York.”

Buffalo News: Potential pot growers struggle with New York’s new rules

By Tom Precious, April 4

Gary Smith grows millions of pounds of tomatoes in a greenhouse in Niagara County, but he is fighting the clock to rotate in a different crop soon so that he can harvest in time for sale next January. His new crop: marijuana.

Or, at least, he hopes it will be.

Smith is among hundreds of people poring over regulations the state Department of Health released last week that paves the way for medical marijuana to be sold in New York State by early next year.

The complex set of rules sets in motion an application period that is expected to see a rush of businesses trying to get a foothold in the state’s medical marijuana industry.

Capital NY: Marijuana law co-sponsor urges patience

By Dan Goldberg & Laura Nahmias, 4/1/15

Democratic State Senator Diane Savino, a co-sponsor of the bill that created New York’s medical marijuana program, said Wednesday she is pleased with the law’s final regulations and urged critics, who accused the Cuomo administration of “abandoning patients and families in need in pursuit of a war on drugs approach,” to be patient with the health department and the fledgling program.

“Look, I understand the role of advocates and it’s always [their job] to push for more and I’m not going to debate that,” Savino said. “I think it’s a far cry from their insinuation that patients have been abandoned. I just simply don’t accept that and don’t agree.”

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who sponsored the law in the Assembly, was far less conciliatory and accused the administration of setting the law up to fail.

“[The Department of Health] received over 1,000 comments from patients and their family members, health care providers, and others,” Gottfried said in an email. “The final regulations make almost none of the recommended changes. The D.O.H. response to many comments is: ‘will consider’ or ‘will take under advisement.’ That is what D.O.H. was supposed to have done during this comment period.”

Albany Times-Union: Medical Pot Rules Spur Backlash

By Matthew Hamilton, April 1, 2015

Amid the hectic climax of the state budget negotiations, the Department of Health on Tuesday quietly filed regulations for New York’s fledgling medical marijuana program.

As lawmakers were reading and digesting budget bills, patient advocates and industry insiders were poring over the 121-page document — and found few changes from the draft regulations, they said.

The final copy comes a little more than a month after the end of the public comment period for the draft regulations.

Those unhappy with the draft were equally dissatisfied with the final product.

“They totally drove right past anything for low-income people,” said Nancy Rivera of Troy, an advocate with Compassionate Care NY.

NY Post: Legislature Kills Cuomo’s Proposed Tax on Obamacare

By Carl Campanile, 3/31/15

The state Legislature has killed a $69 million tax on health-insurance policies proposed by Gov. Cuomo to pay for the administrative costs of continuing New York’s ObamaCare exchange, The Post has learned.

Cuomo’s office initially said the levy — which would have cost about $25 per policy — was needed to make up for federal funds no longer available to cover operating expenses of the New York Health Exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

But lawmakers balked, arguing the new tax was counterintuitive to the goal of making health insurance more affordable.

Budget Season Photos

Photos credit – Assembly Photography

Opening remarks at VOCAL's HIV/AIDS Legislative Advocacy Day, with Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Opening remarks at VOCAL’s HIV/AIDS Legislative Advocacy Day, with Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Joint Conference Committee on Health meets on the budget

Joint Conference Committee on Health meets on the budget

More from the Joint Conference Committee, with Sen. Hannon (L), A/M Cahill (R), and A/M Raia (standing)

More from the Joint Conference Committee, with Sen. Hannon (L), A/M Cahill (R), and A/M Raia (standing)

Packing the stairs for the Share Better Coalition's rally against illegal hotels

Packing the stairs for the Share Better Coalition’s rally against illegal hotels

Speaker Heastie leads press conference before Assembly passage of Reproductive Health Act

Speaker Heastie leads press conference before Assembly passage of Reproductive Health Act

More budget conversations with Assembly Members Barron (L) and Titone (R)

Discussion with Assembly Members Barron (L) and Titone (R)

Speaking on the budget

Speaking on the budget