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Friday, November 21, 2014
Political Arena

Hot-button issues on hold in Albany

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted

The end-of-session blitz to pass laws before the legislature went on summer recess brought the lowering of the city’s speed limit, a package of measures aimed at fighting heroin use and the legalization of medical marijuana.

Absent from that list: campaign finance reform, strengthened abortion rights and the rest of the Women’s Equality Agenda, along with the long-stagnant Dream Act — all of them priorities to mainstream Democrats.

State Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, whose breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) sets the senate’s agenda in tandem with Republicans, was not available for an interview.

But he said in an e-mail that the laws passed before the end of the session on June 20 kept up a series of earlier accomplishments, including universal preschool funding and rent relief for seniors.

“In the coming months, I will continue to build support around core Democratic issues I hope to champion in next year’s legislative session,” said Mr. Klein, who is in a primary race with former Riverdale Councilman Oliver Koppell.

While the senator’s e-mail did not go into detail about the newest laws, a number of city officials praised the law to change the speed limit here from 30 to 25 mph.

“A 25 mph speed limit across the city will prevent more death on our streets and ensure drivers take more care when they are behind the wheel,” Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement. Mr. Rodriguez, the chairman of the council’s transportation committee, has pushed, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, on a wide-ranging bundle of safety measures known as Vision Zero that include a lower speed limit.

A package of bills to fight heroin use also became law. One measure from Riverdale’s Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz increases access to the anti-overdose drug naloxene. Other bills include a requirement for insurance providers to cover addiction treatment.

“We’re dealing with a very serious situation in New York,” Mr. Dinowitz said of heroin use in the state, which has seen an uptake in recent years, according to news reports.

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