Gotham Gazette – 10 Bold or Bizarre Proposals for a New York Constitutional Convention

By Rachel Silberstein, June 2

When New York voters head to the polls on November 7, Election Day, printed on their ballots will be the question, “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?”

A “yes” vote would trigger a state constitutional convention process that could lead to major changes to the New York constitution.

Chelsea Now: Waterside Association Reels in Years of Hudson River Park Plans

By Winnie McCroy, 5/31

Nature’s power to invigorate and inspire, along with our stewardship of that resource, was the thematic river that ran through the annual meeting of Chelsea Waterside Park Association (CWPA), held on the evening of Wed., May 24, at St. Paul’s Church (315 W. 22nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.).

“Urban parks are a critical intersection between nature and the city,” said keynote speaker Nicolette Witcher, who serves as both vice president and the head of environment and education for Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT). “They are so important,” she said of accessible green spaces. “I raised three children in Manhattan, and the playgrounds and dog runs are essential; they give us great joy and utility.”

Times-Union: Advocates make final push for marijuana legalization

By Matt Hamilton

Advocates for the legalization of marijuana were at the state Capitol on Monday to plead with state lawmakers not to let their hopes for the creation of a recreational market go up in smoke for yet another year.

Lawmakers and advocates are backing legislation that would regulate and tax an industry that would be open to those who are 21 years of age or older. It’s a recycled proposal that has not gained significant traction in past sessions. Whether it can overcome hurdles in the final two weeks of the legislative session, especially in the Republican-controlled state Senate, remains unclear.

The bill has undergone revision and was reintroduced just last week. It’s core tenants are: Marijuana would be removed from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances in state law; New Yorkers 21 or older would be allowed to cultivate up to six plants in home; and those of age would be allowed to possess or transport up to two pounds of marijuana and four-and-a-half ounces of concentrated cannabis.

Capital Pressroom Interview (audio)

On May 16 I joined Susan Arbetter of Capital Pressroom for a conversation about single-payer healthcare and Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act.  You can find the interview here.

Chelsea Now – Preservationists Win: Hopper-Gibbons House Owner Ordered to Subtract Addition

By Dusica Malesevic, May 24

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Locked for years in a battle to restore Manhattan’s only documented Underground Railroad site, preservationists have won a major victory regarding the contentious fifth-floor addition to a landmarked building known as the Hopper-Gibbons House.

During a Tues., May 23 public meeting of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), a decision was reached that the addition was inappropriate for the row house at 339 W. 29th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), denying that part of the owner’s application. The current structure will be removed, restoring the building to its original height — a roof that has historic significance that ties back to the Civil War and the abolitionist movement.

“I’m like shaking with victory because it’s a little bit like my baby,” Fern Luskin told Chelsea Now outside the LPC’s office at 1 Centre St.

ThinkProgress – New York lawmakers are voting to create a state-level single-payer system

By Laurel Raymond, May 16.

The New York State Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that, if signed into law and implemented, would enact a single-payer health program in the state.

The New York Health Plan, as the proposal is called, is expected to pass the Assembly with wide margins, as it did in 2015 and 2016. Each of those years, however, the bill wasn’t picked up in the state senate. This year, however, it’s obtained widespread backing and is closer to passing than it’s ever been before — the current count has it just one vote away.

“A single-payer system would create the peace of mind that residents could have access to quality medical care including outpatient and inpatient medical care, primary and preventive care, prescription drugs and laboratory tests,” State Sen. Jeffrey Klein, the head of an independent caucus whose support is critical to bringing the bill withing striking distance of passing, told the Huffington Post. – Will New York Beat California in the Race to Enact a Single-Payer Health Care System?

By Mark Karlin, 5/18

A single-payer health care bill passed the New York State Assembly for the fourth time on Tuesday, and is headed for the State Senate. The Senate has turned down the bill before, but according to The Village Voice, its prospects are growing more favorable this year:

Currently, the bill is only two votes shy of passing in the 63-seat state senate. It recently picked up the support of the influential Independent Democratic Conference, buoying its number of supporters to 30.

CommonDreams – Single Payer Success in NY as Medicare-for-All Bill Passes State Assembly

By Dierdre Fulton, May 16

As the momentum behind Medicare-for-All continues to grow nationwide, New York’s State Assembly on Tuesday was expected to pass a single-payer healthcare bill that puts the state light years ahead of the regressive GOP in Washington, D.C.

The New York Health Act would afford all state residents access to comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventative care, prescription drugs, behavioral health services, laboratory testing, and rehabilitative care, as well as dental, vision, and hearing coverage. There would be no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays; the plan would be funded through progressively raised taxes, including a surcharge that would be split 80/20 between employers and employees.

CNHI – Medical pot group sues state over expansion

By Joe Mahoney, 5/5

ALBANY — With more than 18,000 New Yorkers now certified to be treated with medical marijuana, the state is seeking to double the number of producers of the drug.

But the New York Medical Cannabis Association, a trade group representing the state’s five companies that run production facilities and the 20 dispensaries spread across the state, is waging a court battle to thwart the effort. It argues the Cuomo administration’s plan to bring on new producers will jeopardize their financial viability.

Amy Peckham, the chief operating officer of Etain, a company that produces medical cannabis at a Chestertown facility and operates four dispensaries, said in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit that the state Department of Health’s decision to increase the number of licensed suppliers from five to 10 was “shocking.”

Gothamist: Universal Healthcare Looks Increasingly Possible In New York State

By David Colon, May 26052617hcare.jpg (Scott Lynch / Flickr)

As the debate rages in Washington, DC about whether to trade Trumpcare for Obamacare, a group of lawmakers in New York State see an opportunity for a progressive win here at home. Emboldened by an energized local left wing and operating in a political climate where millions of New Yorkers could wind up losing their health insurance under the American Health Care Act, advocates for single payer health insurance think this might be the ideal time for New York to establish the country’s first universal health program. But even as legislation to do so advances, a number of challenges can keep it from coming to pass.

“So many problems we face in health and health care are made worse and harder to solve because our health care system is so tied to health insurance companies,” Assembly Member Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, who’s been working on passing single payer in New York since 1992, told Gothamist.