NYLPI Announces Top NYC Legislative and Budget Priorities for 2023

January 18, 2023

Climate and Energy Justice, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Legislative, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response

A glaring sun sets over the New York City skyline.

As Mayor Adams and City Council prepare to negotiate New York City’s budget and determine legislative priorities for 2023, 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 our city. 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. NYLPI looks forward to working with lawmakers to make these seven priorities a lived reality in the coming year.

 

DISABILITY JUSTICE

Use the funds allocated for the City’s failing B-HEARD pilot to fund a non-police mental health crisis response system.  After over a year of piloting, the City’s B-HEARD program – which was intended to be a non-police response to mental health crises – continues to dispatch police to more than 80% of mental health crisis calls.  For a city where 19 individuals experiencing mental health crises have been killed at the hands of the police in the last seven years alone, B-HEARD does virtually nothing to address the enormous dangers which individuals with mental disabilities face.  NYLPI urges full funding for a truly non-police model of the sort proposed by Correct Crisis Intervention Today – NYC (CCIT-NYC) that, unlike B-HEARD, will:

  • Use the federal 988 hotline rather than the police-run 911 system;
  • Engage community members and individuals with lived mental health experience in the design, implementation, and oversight of crisis response — and most crucially as members of the crisis response teams;
  • Be available 24/7; and
  • Have a response time comparable to that of other crises.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Robust implementation of the Buildings Efficiency Law (Local Law 97 of 2019) to realize immediate health benefits and energy savings for tenants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution by making buildings more energy efficient, and create thousands of good, jobs in building and electric trades. Rulemaking and legislation must prevent displacement of low- and moderate-income tenants as owners undertake capital projects and must ensure that owners cannot use renewable energy credits (RECs) to delay or avoid efficiency projects that would produce the greatest health benefits, energy cost savings, and job creation for New Yorkers.

Implement the Renewable Rikers Act (Local Laws 16, 17, and 31 of 2021). The City must move as swiftly and boldly as possible to transform Rikers Island from a deadly and dysfunctional carceral site to a renewable energy, recycling, and jobs hub as and should begin by making immediate investments in renewable energy, battery storage, and sustainable waste infrastructure on Rikers Island.

Fully implement the Commercial Waste Zones Law (Local Law 199 of 2019) and ensure that new DSNY contracts with waste providers sharply reduce the massive amounts of waste sent to landfills, incinerators, and transfer stations in EJ communities.  We urge the City to use publicly owned marine and rail transfer stations to increase the efficiency of the new collection system and to ensure that investments in better recycling, composting, and electric truck infrastructure produce health benefits for communities that have borne the brunt of an unequal solid waste system.

Rapidly electrify municipal vehicle fleets by mandating zero-emissions vehicle purchases for city agencies and contractors and putting NYC on track to achieve a fully electric municipal fleet by 2035 and including procurement standards to ensure creation of high-quality local and domestic jobs.  The City should also enact legislation and funding to support the purchase of wheelchair accessible zero-emissions vehicles in the huge for hire vehicle and taxi fleets.

 

HEALTH JUSTICE

Continue funding the City Council’s Immigrant Health Initiative.  This support allows NYLPI to provide free immigration representation, holistic wrap-around services, comprehensive health screenings and organ transplant advocacy for New Yorkers with serious health conditions; train hundreds of health care and legal services providers at New York City safety net hospitals; obtain state-funded healthcare for previously uninsured immigrants; win the release of people in detention; and connected people in detention to volunteer doctors.

Improve Access to Life-Saving Kidney Transplants in New York City’s Health System.  Our clients and partners have identified disparities in receiving life-saving kidney treatments based on New Yorkers’ insurance type and immigration status.  New York City and State can work together to ensure that patients at public and private safety-net hospitals have equal access to specialized transplant centers at private hospitals, that transplant treatments are fully covered by state’s Essential Plan and Medicaid.  Government can issue guidance and education to transplant centers and medical providers to eliminate bias in transplant assessments, and expand the City’s NYC Cares program to affirmatively cover the medications, and after-care needed for transplants.

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