FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 3rd, 2019 9am EST
Contact: Yatziri Tovar, 917-771-2818, Yatziri.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Black and Brown Communities Lay Out Must-Have Policies to Cuomo, Heastie, Stewart-Cousins for End of Legislative Session
Call on Cuomo to Stop Efforts to Divide-and-Conquer Legislature, Urge Heastie and Stewart-Cousins to Deliver on the Progressive Agenda that Put Them in Power
New York, NY (June 3, 2019)—With just three weeks remaining in New York’s state legislative session, leading community organizations representing Black and Brown working-class people across the state today laid out their must-have policy priorities. The following statement to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was signed by the following groups and statewide coalitions: Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, Community Voices Heard, Drug Policy Alliance, Housing Justice for All, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Urban Youth Collaborative, and VOCAL-NY.
“Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Leader Stewart-Cousins: Black and Brown communities across the state are deeply suffering. From the affordable housing crisis that makes displacement and homelessness a daily reality to immigrant families being torn apart to the mass criminalization and incarceration of our loved ones, young and old, we are hurting badly. We write to demand that the three of you, as the leaders of state government, take urgent action before the end of the legislative session to address these needs. In particular, we submit to you the following policy proposals that must be adopted before you adjourn in June:
Rent: New York must pass all nine bills in the Housing for All Platform to expand and protect tenants’ rights across the state, including good cause eviction legislation that would ensure all tenants have basic protections;
Marijuana: New York must legalize the adult use of marijuana to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry rooted in racial and economic justice, which will generate tens of millions in tax revenue and over ten thousand new jobs;
Driver’s Licenses: New York must restore access to driver’s licenses for all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status;
Climate Justice: New York must pass the Climate and Community Protection Act to ensure the strongest enforceable renewable energy standard, and a just transition for front-line communities;
School to Prison Pipeline: New York must pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act to end school push out of students of color and keep students in classrooms and out of the criminal justice system;
Criminal Justice Reform and Police Accountability: New York must pass the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, repeal 50-a, and complete Parole Reform; and
Fair Elections: With big money in politics often impeding legislation that would benefit working-class people of color, a diverse, pro-public financing commission on campaign finance should be seated without further delay, and the Legislature should introduce bills this session to prepare to address any Commission shortcomings.
“In the weeks to come, our members will have a continuous presence in Albany and in districts across the state to ensure that these bills are passed before the end of session. We urge you to work together, as leaders committed to improving the lives of all New Yorkers, and with us as partners in these critical efforts and ensure they become law.
“Governor Cuomo, we demand that you cease your reckless efforts to block and water down these issues, and call on you to finally listen to our communities. We urge you to allow the legislature to do its job and legislate, rather than undermining and threatening legislators and shamelessly attacking the Senate. We see, and are appalled by, your crude attempts to divide and conquer the legislature. Stop getting in the way of justice for our communities.
“Speaker Heastie and Leader Stewart-Cousins, we urge you to focus your efforts on reaching agreements between legislators. We are confident that each of the policies enumerated above has sufficient support to pass your respective legislative chambers and become law, providing enormous benefit to our communities.
“In the beginning of this legislative session, both of you led efforts to pass important legislation, including laws to safeguard women’s reproductive health, advance voting rights, ensure equal access to higher education for immigrant youth, overhaul a discriminatory pretrial legal system, and more. These new laws showed how new leadership in Albany can uplift and center the lives of New Yorkers that have been not only ignored but denied basic rights and protections. But, following years of obstruction by the Senate Republicans and Governor Cuomo, and with a white supremacist in the White House targeting our communities, we must go much further.
“Your party controls both chambers of the legislature because your members won support in their communities–and especially in working-class communities of color–by supporting bold, progressive legislation. Now is the time to follow through, proceed to floor votes on these proposals, and turn them into the law of the land, so that New York can stand as a beacon of respect and dignity for all.”
Available for further comment:
- Marijuana Legalization: Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance, 646-209-0374, KFrederique@drugpolicy.org
- Drivers Licenses: Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York, 917-679-2971, Javier.Valdes@maketheroadny.org
- Rent: Jonathan Westin, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change, 917-637-9501, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Safe & Supportive Schools: Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York, 585-520-6542, email@example.com
- Climate & Community Protection Act: Lisa Tyson, Director, Long Island Progressive Coalition, 516-749-5074, firstname.lastname@example.org