2017-11-22 / Political Page

I On Politics

ADDABBO-PRAISES RESORTS WORLD’S $2B CONTRIB TO NYS EDUCATION: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. made the following statement in reaction to the news that Resorts World Casino New York City in his district has now provided more than $2 billion in revenue to New York’s lottery fund for education since opening its doors in 2011:

“Resorts World has once again demonstrated that its successful existence has benefited the people of our city and state. Aside from providing quality jobs, the financial assistance Resorts World has provided to our school system is certainly appreciated and needed. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I know with each budget cycle, there is no guarantee that educational funds will be at the levels our children deserve. Having the influx of funds from Resorts World, and other aspects of our state’s gaming industry, has a direct impact of maintaining the quality of education in our state.”

CROWLEY ON APPOINTMENT OF NEW HEALTH CZAR AZAR: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley

(D-NY) issued the following statement on the nomination of Alex Azar as Department of

Health and Human Services Secretary:

“President Trump’s administration continues to destabilize and sabotage our nation’s health care system – putting millions of

Americans at risk of losing access to quality and affordable care. As an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, I’m highly concerned about the nomination of Alex Azar.

The Department of Health and Human

Services secretary’s first priority should be the health and well-being of the American people, and that includes ensuring the law of the land is successfully implemented.

“If confirmed, Mr. Azar should pledge to work with Democrats to make meaningful improvements to the American health care system that will lower costs, increase access, and improve care for all Americans.”

ADDABBO URGES: ‘PROVIDE SAFE, SECURE MED WASTE DISPOSAL SITES’: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, is urging final action on legislation he co-sponsors S.6750 that will require chain pharmacies to collect unused, unwanted or expired controlled substances from the public.

“This bill has passed the Senate and Assembly, with bipartisan support, and will be sent to the governor for final consideration by the end of the year,” said Addabbo. “I hope he will sign it into law to help protect both the environment and public health from drugs thrown into the trash or flushed down the drain.”

Addabbo noted that one of his local police precincts recently held a medication collection event, in cooperation with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in recognition of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. “This event offered my constituents a valuable opportunity to safely dispose of old drugs,” he said. “But we need to provide New Yorkers with more consistent access to safe and secure medication disposal sites. Final approval of this legislation requiring chain pharmacies to collect these potentially dangerous substances would be very helpful in addressing this issue.”

Addabbo pointed out that evidence is growing that medications are making their way into water systems and other parts of the environment, as well as the more serious issue of getting into addicts’ hands. “We need to make it easier for consumers to dispose of unwanted medications in a safe and secure manner, and requiring larger pharmacies operating in New York to offer collection services is part of the solution. This bill would also address the drug addiction issue, by reducing the availability of unused prescription drugs,” he said.

In recent years, New York has established voluntary programs encouraging pharmacies to join with other businesses identified by the DEA as authorized collectors of unused, unwanted or expired medications. This legislation builds upon those efforts, and establishes a program under which New York residents can mail back medications to out of state pharmacies where they purchase prescription drugs. Mail back envelope costs will be held to $2. Chain pharmacies are those defined as having 10 or more establishments operating under the same name, and they will also be required to post signs about available drug disposal options, Addabbo added.

“This legislation complements another bill I co-sponsor (S.6673) which would require that more information about safe drug disposal options and events be compiled on a state website coordinated by the State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation,” said Addabbo. “That bill was approved by the Senate during the 2017 legislation session, and I hope it will ultimately be passed by the Assembly,” Addabbo concluded.

A 2014 federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study tested samples from 50 large wastewater treatment plants nationwide for the presence of 56 drugs. More than half the samples tested positive for at least 25 of the monitored medications. In addition, prescription drug use is rising. According to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study, almost 70 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription medication, which is up from 48 percent in 2007-2008. Another concern is that the improper disposal of controlled substances, or keeping them sitting in medicine cabinets for long periods of time, is adding to the opioid addiction epidemic across the state and nation.

ADDABBO BACKS VETS MED MARIJUANA PROGRAM: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security, supports a recently adopted new law that will enable New York veterans and others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.

Addabbo, who supported the new law during the 2017 legislative session, said, “By making PTSD one of the qualifying conditions to gain access to the state’s medical marijuana program, we will be lending an important helping hand to those many veterans in New York who return home from service deeply troubled by their experiences. In addition, this new law will aid others diagnosed with PTSD, including sexual assault victims, domestic violence survivors, first responders, and others who have lived through highly traumatic events.”

PTSD, once known as “shell shock,” was first defined in 1980 as a very serious condition in which a patient develops a series of debilitating symptoms in response to a devastating event, whether on the battlefield, in an accident, as a victim of violent crime, or as a witness to other highly disturbing experiences.

By some estimates, Addabbo said, up to 19,000 patients in New York diagnosed with PTSD could be eligible to access the medical marijuana program, which seeks to provide relief to those suffering from a variety of disorders that do not respond effectively to other medications. Almost all other states with medical marijuana programs in place include PTSD as a qualifying condition.

“Research is demonstrating that PTSD is associated with a deficiency in the brain and nervous system that responds to the cannabinoids in marijuana,” said Addabbo. “Other treatments often prescribed for this condition bring with them significant and potentially dangerous side effects – like the risk of suicide and the development of diabetes – which are not associated with marijuana.” Stringent protocols are in place to ensure the integrity of the medical marijuana program and guard against its misuse, he added.

Addabbo noted that available research into the efficacy of medical marijuana for PTSD treatment has been limited in the United States, owing to federal obstacles to conducting these studies. However, he pointed out, studies in Canada and New Mexico have produced positive results, including reductions in nightmares, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, flashbacks, and use of other medications.

“It is particularly heartrending that so many of our servicemen and women come home from serving their country to struggle with PTSD, which can be a very isolating and misunderstood condition,” he said. “No man or woman who has stepped up and made brave sacrifices on behalf of our nation in the armed forces should be without resources to address the impact of their service on their physical, emotional and psychological health.” The senator noted that in addition to this new advance in addressing the PTSD issue, all levels of government should remain persistent in examining other measures to cure the disorder.

Addabbo urged veterans who believe they are struggling with PTSD to reach out for help. The United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs maintains a Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, where veterans should press 1. The website, at www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp, also provides information about PTSD resources.

In New York State, veterans may also contact the State Division of Veterans’ Affairs at 888-838- 7697 (VETSNYS) to get information and make an appointment with a benefits advisor.

HOUSE EXPECTED TO PASS BILL WITH MENG PROVISIONS ASSISTING MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY: In the wake of Veterans Day, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced on November 13 that the House is expected to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report which contains several provisions she authored that would provide needed assistance to members of the military.

The NDAA Conference Report, which is the result of House and Senate negotiations for final bill text that is expected to pass this week, sets funding levels and policies for the U.S. Department of Defense for fiscal year 2018. Meng’s measures include the following:

 Improving childcare services for military families by enhancing the hours of operation for Department of Defense childcare development centers and establishing childcare coordinators for military installations. Meng authored the provision in the House and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) sponsored a similar version in the Senate.

 A two-year extension of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, a critical suicide prevention and resilience initiative for members of the National Guard and Reserves. The program promotes the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources during and after their deployment, especially during the reintegration phase that continues well beyond the service members’ return home. Meng offered a two-year extension amendment to the Housepassed NDAA, and is pleased to see it included in the final text of the bill that will become law.

 Requiring the Secretary of Defense to review the design, material, sizing, price, availability, quality, and utility of maternity uniforms for pregnant members of the military.

“These three measures will go a long way towards helping members of our military and their families, and I look forward to each provision being enacted into law soon,” said Meng. “This past weekend, our nation thanked our veterans for the service and sacrifice they provided to our country. Now, we must make sure that Congress continues to provide our veterans and members of the military with the support they need and deserve.”

INSURANCE VOTE IN THE HOUSE: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after House Republicans approved an “inadequate flood insurance program that hurts the middle class”:

“House Republicans approved a flood insurance program,” Crowley stated, “that does nothing to address the real issues facing homeowners in flood-prone regions, such as Edgewater in my district. This bill will force middle-class families to pay more to secure their homes, will break promises we’ve made to longtime homeowners whose properties are in flood-prone areas, and completely ignores why Americans are increasingly at risk for floods.

“Advancing a punitive flood insurance program while doing nothing to combat the long-term effects of climate change is not a suitable response for my constituents in Queens and the Bronx, or for Americans across the country. Republicans should have joined Democrats to create a compromise bill that ensures families can afford national flood insurance, while also committing federal resources to limit the degree of damage that floods can cause. We need a serious solution for this very serious problem, and I am disappointed my Republican colleagues are playing politics with people’s lives and livelihoods rather than promoting real solutions.”

E. CROWLEY, PARKS ANNOUNCE UPGRADES TO HOCKEY RINKS: For years, residents complained about the conditions at local hockey rinks in Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village and Mafera Park in Ridgewood. Heeding their call, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley advocated for renovations of the two sites and secured their spot in a multi-site contract to upgrade hockey rinks throughout the borough.

Managed by the city Department of Parks and Recreation, construction is expected to start this spring, according to the agency, she said.

“Kids, parents, players and more have expressed a great need for these rinks to be fixed up. They are used every day, throughout every season,” Crowley stated. “Securing this renovation means that countless people can continue to safely enjoy this space year-round. Thank you to the Parks Department for including Juniper and Mafera in this project.”

Crowley funded $500,000 towards the rink renovations. The administration also provided $500,000.

BILL ALLOWS ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION: Council Member Costa Constantinides released a statement on the City Council passing online voter registration, INT. 508 by Council Member Ben Kallos.

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “Voting is the touchstone of our democracy. By allowing potential voters to register online, we can expand our city’s voter base and increase turnout. That’s why I support INT. 508 by my colleague Council Member Ben Kallos. We have worked together on voter access issues for years. After a historically low voter turnout in this most recent election, it is our job as elected officials to do all we can and change that pattern. I’m proud that our City Council has taken this longneeded step to bring us into the digital era and pro- vide New Yorkers with as many tools as possible to register to vote. Thank you to Council Member Kallos for his bold leadership on this important voter access issue.”

REACTIONS TO PASSAGE OF HOUSE GOP TAX BILL:

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley: “There is no way for Republicans to spin this: today’s vote was a lavish gift to well-connected GOP donors. The simple truth is, this scam of a bill will raise taxes on middle-class families and working Americans who are seeking financial stability in an uncertain economy. I’m particularly disappointed in my New York colleagues who voted for this bill and against the best interests of their constituents and our state.

“This bill will force homeowners and renters to pay more just to stay in their homes. It will force teachers to pay out of their own pockets for necessary school supplies. And it will make it harder for veterans to find meaningful work when they return to civilian life. I cannot understand how Republicans can justify hurting hard-working men and women in Queens, the Bronx, and across the country just so their special interest friends can cash-in on an unneeded tax break.”

Governor Cuomo: “The House Republican tax bill is a targeted assault on New Yorkers that will deliver a catastrophic blow to our economy. Any member from New York that votes for this bill is voting to take billions of dollars from middle class New Yorkers and send that money to corporations, billionaires, and other states.

“I often say to the New York State Legislature that we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first. Republican members, including Collins, Reed, Katko and Tenney, now have a choice between protecting the everyday New Yorkers who elected them or doing the bidding of their party bosses, corporations, and special interests.

“If the New York federal delegation stands together, we can stop this bill and protect our middle class families.”

Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney: “Today, House Republicans cheered after they jammed through their tax bill, but for us New Yorkers, there is nothing to cheer about. This bill will be devastating for the people I represent, for the city I call home, and for millions of middle class families across the country who will see their taxes go up in order to pay for tax cuts for giant corporations and the fortunate few.

“Under this so-called ‘tax cut’ plan, New Yorkers will now be double-taxed because the plan essentially eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes. We are being penalized for taking care of our own by using our state and local taxes to invest in our schools, infrastructure projects, and fire and police departments. As a result, my constituents will, on average, see a tax increase of nearly $1,500 per year and New Yorkers as a whole will be forced to pay $7.5 billion more in federal taxes than we already do. On top of that, New Yorkers will lose $2.6 billion per year in affordable housing financing.

“New York is already the largest donor state in the nation. We send $48 billion more to Washington, DC in taxes than we get back in spending. If this plan becomes law, that number will sky rocket.

“I voted no today because this ‘tax cut’ bill is really a tax increase on hard working New Yorkers that will be devastating for the city that I love. As this process now moves to the Senate, I will continue doing everything I can to make sure this bill, or anything similar to it, never becomes law because we all deserve a far better deal.”

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