Last week, Governor David A. Paterson did the right thing, legally and morally, by announcing that New York State will fully honor same sex civil marriages that are legally performed in other jurisdictions. The state of New York provides 1,324 rights and responsibilities to legally married couples. My congratulations go out to the couples and families who will now enjoy the benefit of those rights and privileges—at the same time that I am mindful of how painfully long in coming this day has been.
On Tuesday, May 13th, the New York State Assembly passed a package of legislation to protect affordable housing, including a bill sponsored by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal to repeal high rent vacancy decontrol. We know that vacancy decontrol is responsible for the loss of over 10,000 units of affordable housing each year, and I want to praise Assemblymember Rosenthal and the leaders in the Assembly for taking steps to support the financial health and well being of New York's working families.
On May 8th, I joined advocates in recognizing the 35th anniversary of the passage of New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, the harshest drug laws in the country. While we made inroads a few years ago in chipping away at draconian mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders, we still clearly have a long way to go to develop a sensible drug policy in New York.
The long-awaited regulations to implement the federal "Real ID Act" fail to solve any of the fundamental flaws in the Bush administration’s catastrophic plan to force state governments to pay billions of dollars to create a dangerous, intrusive national ID card.
In 1938, a time when openings for Jewish refugees were hard to find, the government of the Dominican Republic offered to resettle Jews fleeing Europe. Ultimately Sosúa, an abandoned banana plantation on the north coast of the island, would become a refuge to hundreds of Jews. The settlers were given resources to cultivate the land, and built a thriving town – one that still exists today.
On Thursday, February 7th, I was proud to sponsor a Shalom Tenants Alliance meeting with State Senator Tom Duane at the Mt. Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights. Over the years, tenants in the Shalom buildings have experienced harassment, lack of services, illegal and dangerous construction, robberies and many other conditions which make their homes uninhabitable.
On Thursday, December 13th, the State Senate reconvened in Albany for what is likely to be the last legislative session of 2007. In addition to confirming a handful of the governor's appointees, the Senate passed a one-house judicial pay raise bill.