In the 1980s, New York was one of the first states in the nation to legalize medical marijuana, running the program for nearly a decade before it was shut down. State Senator Diane Savino, of Staten Island and Coney Island, plans to introduce a bill to make medical marijuana accessible again for glaucoma and cancer patients, according to a report by Medical Jane.
Sensing a shift in the national mood towards relaxing marijuana laws (its basically been decriminalized in Washington and Colorado) Savino hopes to introduce the bill next week. It’s at least the third year in a row that she has proposed such legislation, as you can see here and here.
Its passage relies on the Governor Cuomo’s willingness to buck traditional convention:
In order for this bill to get passed, it will take the convincing of New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. The Governor has announced that while he does not favor the idea of a medical marijuana program, he is open to the idea of it. The legal director for the New York branch of NORML said that Cuomo’s disinclination has nothing to do with the science behind medicinal marijuana. “This is purely political… Nobody wants to be the drug governor,” he goes on to say.
We were wondering what our readers think about legalizing medical marijuana again in New York. Would it bother you if medical pot becomes available? Do you want New York to follow in the steps of Colorado and Washington and decriminalize it altogether? Share your thoughts.
In a 43-to-18 vote, the New York Senate voted to enact sweeping new gun control laws for the state, according to an article in the New York Post.
State Senator Marty Golden supported the measure spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic caucus, despite outcry from a handful of Republican colleagues in the upstate area who voted against the bill.
“This legislation that we’re passing will save lives,” Golden told the New York Post.
The centerpiece of the new legislation focuses on the ban of assault weapons in the state, as well as broadening the definition of what constitutes an assault weapon. The new definition extends to any gun having a detachable magazine and having one military-style feature. The old definition allowed for two military-style features.
Dubbed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NYSAFE), the legislation also bans all magazines that hold more than seven rounds and bans all direct internet ammunition sales.
The bill, which Governor Cuomo declared is “the most comprehensive response to this crisis,” requires universal background checks for all gun sales. It will also allow state police to monitor high volume ammunition purchases in real time.
Individuals who currently own assault weapons will have to register them within a year and be recertified every five years.
Also included in the sweeping legislation is what’s known as the “Webster Provision” a life-without-parole sentence for anyone who kills a first responder. The “Webster Provision” came about after firefighters were gunned down after responding to a fire this past Christmas Eve in the upstate Webster community.
Under the proposed law, which still requires a vote by the Democratic-led Assembly, also requires mental-health professionals to report dangerous patients. If the patient happens to own a gun, they might be forced to surrender them. New provisions are also extended to mentally ill prisoners who must now undergo an extensive review before being released from prison.
While the majority of legislation puts the hammer to gun rights activists, there is a provision in the bill that would limit the exposure of people that carry gun permits. According to Capital Tonight, the statewide database of pistol permits would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). This language was included to prevent the incident that occurred this past month when the White Plains Journal News published a map of all the homes that housed gun permit holders, an action that left gun owners feeling vulnerable.
If the bill becomes law, the state will also create an electronic database to identify individuals disqualified from owning guns. Background checks will also be necessary for private gun sales.
Earlier this week, we ran a summary of a New York Post story claiming that State Senator David Storobin doled out salary hikes to staffers just after losing his election bid for the Super Jewish district. Storobin, who came to office in June only to see his district drawn out of existence by redistricting, will be out of a job come January 1, and the story alleges that the local pol was rewarding his supporters after the electoral defeat. Storobin sent the following unsolicited letter to Sheepshead Bites:
On December 16, Candice Giove of the New York Post ran a story that your blog picked up which claimed that I “lavish raises on staffers.” The journalist purposely ran an article with false information after it was explained to her because she did not want to allow facts to get in the way of her doing a story.
Pinny Ringel got a pay raise because he was promoted to the position of the Chief of Staff after the previous one was fired. Since I only took office on June 4, I did not know who was good and who was bad. As a result, several people got fired and several others promoted. But the net result for the taxpayer was the payroll actually going down!
If you look at the amount of money spent by the New York State Senators since the day I took office, I spent a smaller percentage of the staffing budget I was allotted than anyone else, saving taxpayer money.
Mr. Storobin, who lost to Democrat Simcha Felder by a 2-to-1 margin, said he would most likely run in the district currently represented by term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson, D-Brooklyn. It has a substantial Russian-American population, which represents his base of support and is fairly Republican-friendly. (The district will be redrawn to an unknown extent for the 2013 election.)
“I’ve had a million dollars spent on me this year by my campaigns, the Senate Republicans and PACs, so I have a lot of name recognition,” Mr. Storobin added.
… Another likely candidate for Mr. Nelson’s council seat is Ari Kagan, a former Assembly candidate and Democrat. Mr. Kagan is likewise Russian-American. Mr. Storobin, however, said he hoped that multiple Russian-American candidates would not run in the same race, and said that as a Democrat, Mr. Kagan has multiple districts from which to choose.
State Senator Marty Golden and his upstart opponent, Democrat Andrew Gounardes, faced off at a debate last night hosted by the Dyker Heights Civic Association.
The 30-minute debate got heated at points, with Golden and Gounardes occasionally raising their voices and breaking with debate protocol to ask each other questions or attack one another.
Among the issues discussed were gun control, women’s rights including emergency contraceptives for rape victims and fair pay, and education.
Education is how Andrew Gounardes opened the debate, attacking the 10-year incumbent for failing to bring home the bacon for local schools. He claimed Golden has voted 99 percent of the time with the Senate Republican leadership, which he said had been neglecting New York City’s schools, siphoning off funding and ignoring issues of overcapacity in New York City. The Senator responded by calling the claims “pure fantasy” and noted that he had brought funding to local schools, including adding 4,000 seats to the district.
On a separate question about education, Golden received boos for expressing his support for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of the city school system, while Gounardes said the state needed to do a better job ensuring the mayor is fulfilling his obligation to students, which, he said, appears not to be the case given college-readiness rates and school standards.
The crowd appeared to overwhelmingly support Senator Golden, many sporting Golden and GOP stickers – but Gounardes also brought a contingent of supporters who cheered him on. Both appeared to have “plants” in the crowd – or people who posed questions that exposed the weakness of their opponent.
One of those questions came from a female Gounardes supporter, who asked Golden if he supported Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s statements that rape victims should not have access to emergency contraceptives. It seemed Golden was pretending not to hear the question, and then rephrased it as “Should [rape victims] get emergency services immediately upon rape? Yes, they should.”
Gounardes won a round of applause for immediately shooting back that Golden had voted three times against a bill that would provide contraceptives to rape victims.
The insurgent opponent also won accolades when Golden made a few verbal stumbles, such as suggesting that New Yorkers can’t afford to provide equal pay to women and that importing oil and gas from Canada qualified as energy independence.
Golden, for his part, effectively presented his opponent as rabidly anti-gun and portrayed his own record on gun safety as a more effective and moderate approach. He also scored points by aligning Gounardes’ view on renewable energy investments with that of the Obama Administration, which has recently taken flak for providing $90 billion in breaks for green energy industries with little return shown on the investment.
Watch the debate above – it will likely be the most expansive, interesting and exciting to happen this year in Southern Brooklyn.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that strengthens laws against viewing and downloading child pornography from the internet.
The bill has been on the table for some time and has been supported by Senator Martin Golden. Lawmakers discovered that a loophole existed in New York’s legislation for prosecuting those charged with viewing child pornography.
The issue came up when lawmakers realized that one who views child pornography on a website where the images appear is not committing a felony unless he or she downloads the photos. Further, the initial law stated that if the images somehow became automatically embedded, this was not considered possession of the pornography either.
The new law amends the old law and prohibits individuals from knowingly accessing a website with the intent of viewing child pornography on the internet. Accessing a website and intending to view child pornography will now be a class E felony.
“With the strengthening of these laws, we eliminate any loophole to better protect our children from predators,” said Governor Cuomo to the Post Star News. “This new law stops criminals who have been able to escape prosecution and punishment for too long. I applaud Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver and the bill sponsors for their leadership and dedication to keeping our kids safe. By working together, we are ensuring that all New Yorkers, especially children, are kept safe and that justice is rightfully served.”
As a result of the new law, possessing child pornography will never be considered legal in New York State.
The deal also addresses previous instances wherein lawyers claimed their clients used the child porn for educational purposes. It does, however, contain an excpetion for prosecutors who deal with child porn in legal proceedings, clarified Golden to the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m glad that all the legislators came to their senses and did the right thing to make sure we try to stop the victimization and abuse of kids,” Golden said.
Lawmakers will process the bill before ending the next legislative session this week.
State Senator David Storobin will run for re-election in the new Super Jewish district, named that for its dense population of Orthodox Jews.
Th district was drawn up in March as a result of the population changes revealed in the 2010 United States Census. The district includes the neighborhoods of Boro Park and Flatbush.
According to Politicker, Storobin’s main primary opposition, Nachman Caller of the Republican Party, has decided to drop out of the race, and will now support Storobin. Storobin will most likely compete against the Democrat Simcha Felder, a former City Councilman, in the general election. Although Felder began as the frontrunner, much of the area’s voter population has transferred its loyalty to the Republican Party. Storobin told Hamodia that he is looking forward to a civil competition between himself and Felder.
Storobin won the the recount for a special election in corrupt State Senator Carl Kruger’s district about a week ago. Kruger resigned last year, after pleading guilty to bribery charges on the federal level. However, due to the fact that Storobin’s current seat was disassembled in this year’s redistricting process, it was unclear if he would seek re-election.
“I am very happy that I won the previous election,” Storobin said. “I think it was a big victory for the Jewish community. I think it was a big victory for all of those who subscribe to conservative values, and I think we need to continue.”
Senator Marty Golden urged caution for Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers as attempts to reduce punishment for carrying small quantities of marijuana move forward.
“What is it 25 grams? It’s a lot of pot. I think I’d have some issues with it. I think we’d like to still see the bill before comment on it, but I’m against decriminalization. It’s a gateway drug,” said Golden to LoHud.com.
Golden’s position on possession is unyielding. In 2009, he opposed a law that would amend the controversial Rockefeller drug laws to no longer require a minimum jail sentences on every drug charge.
Golden’s response contrasts Cuomo’s recently revealed plan to change the law in classifying possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view as misdemeanors.
“This is about creating fairness and consistency in our laws. The problem is the law, and the solution is to change the law,” he told Business Week.
The push to lower marijuana charges comes on the heels of New York’s highly criticized stop-and-frisk campaign. Cuomo hopes the measure passes this session, which ends June 21.
Golden mentions recent deaths in his district as a reason for prudence. He added that five people died from prescription drug overdoses.
“I think you have to be very careful when you decriminalize anything, but I’d still like to see the bill,” said Golden.
Kruger's office after signage was stripped in March.
Newly-sworn in State Senator David Storobin will open his district office to constituents next week, using the former 2201 Avenue U space once occupied by his disgraced predecessor Carl Kruger.
Storobin told Sheepshead Bites this week that he has obtained the keys to the office, and it will be fully staffed by Monday. Constituents can begin stopping by then to talk to staffers about legislation or problems they’re having with city or state authorities.
The state will now pay to replace the signage that was removed, which will need to be replaced once more in January when the district is eliminated. That intersection will sit on the border of the new District 17 and District 19.