NYLPI 2024 State Legislative Priorities

January 2, 2024

Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Climate and Energy Justice, Community Justice, Daniel's Law, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Legislative, News, Racial Justice, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response, Transplant Equity

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As the 2024 Legislative Session begins in Albany, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), our clients, and our partners have identified top legislative and budget priorities to advance Disability, Environmental, and Health Justice in New York.  Each of these initiatives is feasible and necessary if we are to meet the intersecting challenges of racial injustice, social inequality, and an accelerating climate crisis.  We look forward to working with lawmakers to make these priorities a lived reality in the coming year.

Disability Justice

• Pass Daniel’s Law (A2210/S2398) to establish a non-police response for New Yorkers experiencing mental health crises.  As the multiple co-sponsors of Daniel’s Law recognize, a healthcare response by a team of emergency medical technicians (who are not affiliated with New York’s Emergency Medical Services), and trained peers with lived mental health experience, will limit the trauma and other harms of over-policing, address longstanding racial and class inequities, and build a collaborative social support system. The cost of this program would be offset by reductions in emergency room admissions, reductions in inappropriate arrests, reductions in forced psychiatric hospital commitments, and savings on police responses.
 

• Improve New York’s Dysfunctional Paratransit Systems for People with Disabilities.

NYLPI strongly supports:

• Passage of A2723-A / S7021 to eliminate burdensome and costly in-person assessments to recertify paratransit eligibility by permitting persons with disabilities to instead submit documentation from their healthcare providers.

• Expansion and state funding of the highly successful MTA “on-demand” paratransit pilot to offer this life-changing opportunity to more New Yorkers to ride whenever and wherever they want, without rationing of rides.

• Passage of A4165 / S4739 to ensure that people with disabilities living three miles or more from a traditional transit route are eligible for paratransit service.

 

Environmental Justice

After a year of wildfires, extreme rainfall, and extreme heat It has become increasingly obvious that the climate crisis that is worsening and disproportionately and adversely impacting Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor New Yorkers.   Our state is far behind in providing the funding needed to implement the 2019 CLCPA, to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis and to jump-start a green, regenerative economy across our state.  Moreover, we call on legislators to defeat industry-lead efforts to weaken and dilute the CLCPA, including the attempt to fundamentally alter the way New York accounts for climate emissions.  

NYLPI, with the 370-member New York Renews coalition, calls for immediate passage of:

• Just Energy Transition Act (JETA) (S2935-C/A4866-C) –  The Just Energy Transition Act (JETA) provides a necessary framework for an expeditious replacement of New York State’s fossil fuel electricity generation facilities by 2030 and would require the state to study and operationalize methods to responsibly shutter large and inefficient polluting power plants on a short timeline. Additionally, the bill language enjoins the use of demonstrably ineffective mechanisms like carbon capture technologies as options to transition from fossil fuel power plants;

• NY HEAT Act (S2016-A/A4592-A) – As New York moves toward a gas hookup ban for new construction, affordability is front of mind when it comes to New Yorkers’ energy bills. The NY HEAT Act will lower utility bills by approximately $75/ month for those least able to pay and cap energy bills at 6% of household income while removing the requirement that utilities provide gas service to new buildings. This will free our state to build cutting-edge electric and thermal energy networks that are more reliable, safer, and more affordable. The measure is supported by advocates and utilities and has strong champions in both legislative houses

• Climate Change Superfund Act (S2129-A/A3351-A) – Right now, New Yorkers pay billions of dollars annually out of our own pockets to combat the effects of the climate crisis, with some municipalities spending more than half their budgets on climate change.   Meanwhile, the largest corporate producers of greenhouse gas emissions continue to pull in record-breaking profits at the cost of our health—and our lives. The Climate Change Superfund Act would shift the bill away from taxpayers and onto polluters by requiring the largest greenhouse gas emitters to pay $3 billion annually for the next 25 years for the massive damage they have done to our climate and our economy.  This money would fund urgently needed infrastructure improvements, upgrade stormwater and sewage systems, improve electrical grid stability, and improve public health across New York City and State.

• Equitable and just implementation of the Cap-Trade-and-Invest program.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has initiated a statewide cap-trade-and-invest (CT&I) program via state regulations. A just program can generate at least $10 billion per year in revenue for investments in urgently needed investments in renewable energy, public health, and job creation programs; and would target financial relief for low-and-moderate-income consumers and disadvantaged communities.

However, a poorly designed CT&I scheme would result in further environmental harm for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working New Yorkers.   

Legislators and DEC must ensure that a fair cap-and-invest program does not allow corporations to trade their pollution permits for profit and does not open the door to expensive and ineffective false climate solutions such as carbon capture and storage and “green” hydrogen production.

Health Justice

•  Pass Coverage for All to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality health care through the Essential Plan and Medicaid programs. The state should extend health coverage to low- and moderate-income immigrant residents who contribute over $1 billion to our economy, make up over half of the essential workforce, and played a vital role in our economy and safety net during the COVID-19 public health crisis.Expanded health coverage would save lives, improve public health, and create over $700 million in economic benefits each year.  

•  Establish a Transplant Equity Program to Promote Life-Saving and Cost-Effective Organ Transplant Care.

Due to misinformation, healthcare inaccessibility, and barriers to care for immigrant patients, many New Yorkers in need of life-and money-saving kidney transplants are denied necessary, lifesaving healthcare – furthering racial and ethnic disparities in our health system.

A robust Transplant Equity program within the Department of Health should assess barriers to transplant care based on insurance status, race, and immigration status.  The new program would work with health systems across the state to implement proven solutions such as:

  • employing specially trained health navigators to ensure that immigrant and low-income patients receive access to transplant evaluations and follow up care;
  • Implementing training programs for medical providers on how to obtain insurance for immigrant patients and address barriers and bias within health systems;
  • Launching public education campaigns to increase the urgently needed supply of both living and deceased organ donors in New York;
  • Receiving complaints and questions from patients, advocates, and providers, investigating complaints of discrimination, and referring issues to the appropriate enforcement agencies at the state and federal level.

Because common organ transplants such as kidney transplants are far less expensive than less effective long-term dialysis treatments, a statewide transplant equity program could produce cost savings for the state, which currently pays for dialysis treatments via Emergency Medicaid and other state-funded insurance programs.

About NYLPI

Founded more than 45 years ago, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) pursues equality and justice for all New Yorkers. Our work activates the power of New York communities as they lead the fight to make equal justice a reality.  We strive to create equal access to healthcare, achieve equality of opportunity and self-determination for people with disabilities, ensure immigrant opportunity, strengthen local non-profits, and secure environmental justice for low-income communities of color.  For more information visit www.nylpi.org or contact Director of Policy Justin Wood at [email protected].

 

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