24 May

Senator Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors, Session VI – Reimagining Later Life Care Models

Session VI – Reimagining Later Life Care Models

Thursday, May 20th 10 am- 11:30 am

What kinds of services and supports do we need in order to live with comfort and dignity during the latter part of our lives? Many supports available for older adults today are not person centered. During the final Roundtable of the 2021 series, you will hear from the experts about what quality medical, home, and nursing home care could look like to support our older selves.



– Elana Kieffer, MBA, Acting Director, Center for Healthy Aging, New York Academy of Medicine

– Gilbert Oberfield, JD, MSJ, Lawyer / Healthcare Business and Policy Professional

– Carla Perissinotto, MD, MPH, Associate Chief of Geriatrics, University of California, San Francisco


Links Mentioned:

– Link to CDC guidance:

– Link to article that provides a breakdown of mask-wearing and social distancing for fully-vaccinated and unvaccinated people:


– Center for Healthy Aging:

– Image:NYC –

– KFF Study:

– Op-Ed by Dr. Perissinotto:


– To find a daily money manager that focuses on older adults, go here:

– Sen. Krueger’s Senior Resource Guide:







– OATS is an excellent organization that provides training on tech towards older adults

– New program in New York State to provide digital training for older adults: –

– LiveOn NY hosted a mayoral forum on aging where you can hear the candidates’ views

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14 May

Small Business Recovery Resources

A Virtual Town Hall recorded on Thursday, May 13th, 2021, co-hosted by State Senator Liz Krueger and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.



– Jessica Walker, President and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

– Natalie Mendell, Director of Business Recovery, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

– Senator Anna Kaplan, Chair, Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business Committee, New York State Senate

– Sylvia Rivera, Economic Development Specialist Small Business Administration


Important Links:

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, New York Small Business Assistance Network. The email for questions is:

Small Business Administration Website

SBA New York District Office (NYDO) Resource Guide

SBA Resource Partners Network – Local Assistance

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) inquiries, please contact the Disaster Customer Service Center at or 1-800- 659-2955

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) apply at:

RRF applications and Questions at:  (844) 279-8898


PowerPoint Presentations:

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Resource Network

Sen. Kaplan, NYS Small Business Assistance Programs

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10 May

Managing Debt

A Virtual Town Hall recorded on Thursday, May 6th, 2021, with State Senator Liz Krueger; Ellen Davidson, Staff Attorney, Civil Practice, Legal Aid Society; Sarah Ludwig, Founder and Co-Director, New Economy Project; and Raquel Villagra, Staff Attorney, New Economy Project.


Ellen Davidson’s Links

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CEPAP) Fact Sheet:

Economic Hardship Declaration:​

Legal Aid Eviction Information:​

Ellen Davidson’s PowerPoint Slides:


New Economy Project Links NYC Financial Justice Hotline: Call: 212-925-4929

Contact New Economy Project online:



If you need individual credit counseling, the links below may be helpful. NYC’s Financial Empowerment Centers for financial counseling:

and more information is available through Neighborhood Trust’s website as well:

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30 Apr

Senator Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors, Session V – Advanced Care Planning Part 2: For Yourself and Your Finances

Session V – Advanced Care Planning Part 2: For Yourself and Your Finances Thursday, April 29th 10 am- 11:30 am

Learn about advanced care planning tools for yourself, including medical needs, Medicaid considerations, guardianship, and making funeral arrangements; and for your finances, including Powers of Attorney, trusts, and last wills and testaments. The discussion will emphasize that it is never too late to start planning, and will help you understand the basic procedures and documents you should consider when engaging in advanced care planning.

View the full video by clicking here.



– Wendy Handler, LMSW, Director, Onsite and Special Programs, DOROT

– Tina Janssen-Spinosa, Esq. Senior Staff Attorney, Total Life Choices Program Coordinator, NYLAG


Important Links:

– Sen. Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors, Session II – Health Care Proxies and Living Wills

– Advanced Care Planning PowerPoint Presentation

– Sample Power of Attorney

– Which Service is Appropriate

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23 Apr

Senator Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors, Session IV – Living Well: What Do We Value Most?

Senator Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors, 2021
Being Mortal: Thinking about End of Life Decision Making
Session IV – Living Well: What Do We Value Most?
Thursday, April 22nd 10 am – 11:15 am

Thinking about our own mortality can make many of us uncomfortable and afraid, particularly as we age. Ironically, it is our mortality that makes life valuable. Join us in a life-affirming Roundtable discussion that will spur us to acknowledge that death is a part of life, and will help us to understand that life’s finite nature is what ultimately gives our lives meaning and brings us joy.


– Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue

– Jeannie Blaustein, PhD, D. Ministry, Founding Board Chair, Reimagine End of Life, Adjunct Faculty, Pace University, Psychology

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.


Important Links:

Elder Abuse Resources

– In an emergency call 911

– Carter Burden Community Elder Abuse Mistreatment and Abuse Prevention Program

– NYC ElderAbuse Center Helpline for Family and Friends of someone who is being abused 212.746.6905

– Manhattan District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Hotline 212.335.9007

Online Programs:

– Reimagine End of Life: Link for entire program schedule to plan for end of life, grief support, build resilience and live fully and so much more!

– Free Advanced Care Planning Workshop on Saturday, 4/24:

– Free Grief Workshop on Thursday, 4/29:

– Free Community Vigil to mourn the lives of all lost to Covid-19, Sunday, 5/9:

Two Books to Read:

– Ira Byock: The Four Things That Matter Most:

– BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger: A Beginner’s Guide to the End:


– NYT Opinion – Thank God for the Poets, Margaret Renkl:

– NYT Opinion- My Second Phase of Adulthood, Charles Blow:

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16 Apr

New York City: What Can We Do After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccination?

A Virtual Town Hall recorded on Thursday, April 15th, 2021, with State Senator Liz Krueger and Dr. Celine Gounder, an Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital, a CNN Medical Analyst, and a former Biden Transition COVID advisor.
View full video of the event by clicking here.

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12 Apr

Statement From Senator Liz Krueger On State Pension Fund Divestment From Oil Sands Companies

New York City – State Senator Liz Krueger released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli that the Common Retirement Fund will divest from seven of nine oil sands companies reviewed as part of the Fund’s historic commitment to divest from the riskiest fossil fuel companies by 2025 and attain portfolio-wide net zero by 2040:

“I congratulate the Comptroller for taking another important step following up on his historic commitment to divest from climate laggards in the fossil fuel industry and achieve a net-zero portfolio by 2040. I was proud to have been able to work together with him to reach agreement on this truly historic plan last fall, and I’m gratified to see it being put into action. Oil sands companies are some of the worst of the worst, from both a climate and an investment perspective. Divesting from these companies will protect the fund, current and future retirees, and taxpayers from unacceptable levels of climate risk, and will reiterate once again that the era of dirty fossil fuels must and will come to an end.”


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12 Apr

Ranked Choice Voting: Just the Basics

A Virtual Town Hall recorded on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021, with State Senator Liz Krueger, Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director, NYC Civic Engagement Board, and Allie Swatek, Director of Policy and Research, NYC Campaign Finance Board.

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.

Allie Swatek’s PowerPoint presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

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28 Mar

Final Bill Introduced To Legalize, Tax, And Regulate Adult-Use Marijuana

Albany – Today bill language was introduced in the Legislature reflecting three-way agreement to legalize, tax, and regulate adult-use cannabis. The bill (S.854-A), an amended version of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, is carried in the Assembly by Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and is expected to be voted on next week.

“I am very proud that we finally have a three-way agreed bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market,” said Senator Krueger. “My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities. I believe we have achieved that in this bill, as well as addressing the concerns and input of stakeholders across the board. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like.”

“I am thrilled to announce that there is three-way agreement to pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The final bill provides long awaited marijuana justice for New Yorkers, and makes significant steps and investments to begin to address the generational devastation caused by marijuana prohibition and mass incarceration,” said Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. “Cannabis legalization in New York will be centered on equity, investment into communities, economic opportunities for historically disenfranchised people, research, education, and public safety. I am honored to sponsor this legislation and excited to see the positive impact it will have for so many New Yorkers.”

The final legislation is the culmination of a years-long effort by Senator Krueger, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and countless advocates. Key provisions of the bill will begin to repair the heavily discriminatory impact that enforcement of prohibition has had on communities of color in New York State. These provisions include:

  • Dedicating 40% of revenue to reinvestment in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war, with 40% to schools and public education, and 20% to drug treatment, prevention and education.
  • Equity programs providing loans, grants, and incubator programs to ensure broad opportunities for participation in the new legal industry by people from disproportionately impacted communities as well as by small farmers.
  • A goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants.
  • Elimination of penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis.
  • Automatic expungement of records for people with previous convictions for activities that are no longer criminalized.
  • Establishment of a well-regulated industry to ensure consumers know exactly what they are getting when they purchase cannabis.

“Almost 7 years ago, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and I made history in NY by bringing Medical Cannabis to the thousands of New Yorkers who were suffering from chronic conditions,” said Senator Diane Savino. “Since that time, we have built upon the original program to improve access to patients and remove barriers. Today, we continue those efforts and it will lead to a better program for all. I want to thank Senator Krueger and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes for their attention to the needs of our Medical Cannabis community.”

“This is an historic step in reforming our broken, racist cannabis prohibition model,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and sponsor of New York’s medical marijuana law. “Over the last decades New York has made progress through decriminalization, repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and enactment of a medical marijuana program. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) will now create economic opportunities, including social equity programs and community reinvestment, expand patient access to medical marijuana, and protect hemp farmers. I look forward to voting on this important bill as soon as it can be brought to the floor.”

The bill establishes the framework to build a well-regulated industry that will replace the illegal market, prevent domination by large existing players, and ensure that consumers know exactly what they are getting when they purchase cannabis. To achieve these goals, the bill:

  • Establishes an Office of Cannabis Management with a board comprised of 5 members – 3 appointed by Governor and 1 by each legislative house, with the chair subject to Senate confirmation.
  • Establishes an Executive Director appointed by the Governor subject to Senate confirmation, and a Chief Equity Officer subject to approval by at least 4 members of the board.
  • Establishes a Cannabis Advisory Board representing a broad range of communities of interest, which will be responsible for approving grants from the Community Reinvestment Fund as well as making policy recommendations and reporting on the state of the cannabis program.
  • Grants the Office of Cannabis Management powers to evaluate license applicants use a broad range of metrics, including social equity status, commitment to environmentally sound policies, public health, and fair labor practices.
  • Expands the medical cannabis program allowing for additional licensees, expanded patient access, and a broader range of product types.
  • Allows current Registered Organizations limited access to the adult use market in exchange for licensing fees that will help fund equity programs. The legislation prohibits vertical integration for all other licensees except micro-businesses to protect the retail sector from being controlled by larger cannabis producers, and establishes a goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants.
  • Allows limited homegrow of three mature and three immature plants per adult for both medical patients and in the adult use program, with a maximum of six mature and six immature plants per household, subject to regulation by the Office of Cannabis Management.
  • Provides funding for training drug recognition officers and expands traffic safety protections, including the development of roadside testing technology.
  • Allows for localities to opt out of retail sales at the city, town, and village level
  • Sets a 9% sales tax on cannabis, plus an additional 4% tax split between the county and city/town/village, plus an additional tax based on THC content as follows: 0.5 cents per milligram for flower, 0.8 cents per milligram for concentrated cannabis, and 3 cents per milligram for edibles.

Melissa Moore, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance, said: “At long last, marijuana reform is finally almost a reality in New York State. Through the tireless work of people impacted by prohibition, advocates, and champion lawmakers, like Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York is on the precipice of ushering in a new era of marijuana justice. Advancing legalization in NY also puts another nail in the coffin of the war on drugs that has devastated so many communities across the state. By comprehensively addressing the harms of past criminalization, this legislation will create one of the most ambitious marijuana legalization programs in the country. It is setting a national model for reform with community reinvestment, equity, and justice front and center. We will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure the best possible outcome for all New Yorkers and look forward to the Legislature swiftly passing the bill and the Governor’s signature on these historic reforms.”

L. Joy Williams, President of Brooklyn NAACP and Legislative Director for New York State NAACP, said: “This is a victory for the many Black and Brown New Yorkers who were targeted due to the racist and predatory nature of the war on drugs. We commend Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and the many community leaders, advocates and organizations across the state who stood our ground to ensure that any legalization efforts center the people of African descent that were most harmed and that the communities in which they live would enjoy their equitable share in a legal market. The passage of this legislation sets a standard across the country that as we seek to dismantle the many structures of criminalization, racism and inequity in our society, that we must do so by centering the people and the communities most harmed.”

Sochie Nnaemeka, State Director, New York Working Families Party, said: “Thank you to the activists, grassroots leaders, the Drug Policy Alliance, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Senate and Assembly leadership, and Black and brown New Yorkers across the state who worked tirelessly for decades in pursuit of this historic legislation. Passing this bill would be a monumental step toward correcting the decades of harm to Black communities and other communities of color who have been targeted by the war on drugs and marijuana criminalization. Last year, New Yorkers took to the streets and to the polls to demand an end to police violence and our racist ‘justice’ system. We applaud the Senate and Assembly for heeding the demands of New Yorkers across the state and modeling what racial justice legislation can look like. We look forward to marijuana justice finally becoming law in New York.”

Jawanza James Williams, Director of Organizing with VOCAL-NY, said: “After a lifetime of violence through marijuana prohibition, causing the unjust caging of Black, brown, and poor communities, and unmitigated collateral consequences, both structural and psychological, we are slated to finally begin to offer truth and restitution to those most impacted. Our primarily Black and brown membership across the state of NY may finally see legislation that actually responds to their lived experiences by offering the dignity of recognition and pathways to economic elevation. We should expect nothing less.”

Michael Sisitzky, Senior Policy Counsel at NYCLU, said: “New Yorkers have spoken in the streets and at the polls: they demanded that lawmakers dismantle systemic racism, and that begins with how we legalize marijuana. At long last, the legislation announced today will ensure a diverse and inclusive legal marijuana industry and reinvest in the communities of color that have been devastated by the war on drugs, mass incarceration and a legacy of disproportionate arrests for drug possession. The time is now for lawmakers in Albany to repair the damage to Black and Brown New Yorkers whose lives have been needlessly destroyed by racist drug policies across our state for far too long. We expect the Legislature to pass this overdue legislation and for Governor Cuomo to step up, stop the harm and sign it into law without delay.”

Stanley Fritz, Political Director, Citizen Action New York, said: “We applaud Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Senator Liz Krueger, and the Start SMART NY Coalition for their tireless efforts to ensure we have marijuana justice in NYS. There can be no marijuana justice if we do not address the damage we have done to poor, Black and Brown communities. It is time we reckoned with the generations of failed war on drug policies, criminalization, and intentional denial of resources to Black and Brown communities. We are proud to be at this point with a marijuana legalization that centers communities that have borne the brunt of criminalization. We look forward to the final push towards passing a MRTA that ensures equity and justice for our communities.”

Troy Smit, Deputy Director, Empire State NORML, said: “As a consumer advocacy organization, Empire State NORML is thrilled to see the negotiated bill by Senator Krueger that reflects marijuana justice and the interests of the cannabis consumers. For too long, the lives of New Yorkers in low-income and communities of color across the state have been ruined by our state’s draconian enforcement of harmful prohibitionist policies. We sincerely hope that the New York State Legislature passes this bill. This new version of the bill will be a step in the right direction towards a framework that respects the cannabis consumers’ freedom to use a harmless plant.”

Eli Northrup, Policy Counsel to the Criminal Defense Practice, Bronx Defenders, said: “We are extremely happy to see that the bill announced today closely mirrors the framework of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act that Black and brown communities have been advocating for for years. Marijuana justice means working to undo the immense damage done by the War on Drugs and ensuring that the communities most impacted by prohibition—including many here in the Bronx—have a chance to benefit from legalization as well. We look forward to working with lawmakers over the coming weeks to ensure that the bill that is passed represents true marijuana justice for all New Yorkers.”

Jose Chapa, Senior Policy Associate at the Immigrant Defense Project, said: “For years, New York marijuana convictions have been used to deport vital members of our immigrant communities across the state. We are proud to have been part of the broad coalition of advocates and elected officials who recognize the need to center social justice as we near marijuana legalization in the state. New York State must recognize and address the devastating harms that prohibition has caused immigrant communities. We look forward to continuing to advocate for immigrant inclusion in marijuana reform.”

Marvin Mayfield, Lead Organizer at Center for Community Alternatives, said: “Finally, we are on the verge of ending a cruel chapter in New York’s racist and devastating war on drugs. Marijuana criminalization has wrought decades of harm on our families and communities. We are proud of the thousands of impacted New Yorkers who have fought for a true end to criminalization, community reinvestment and equity and we applaud the legislators who stood beside us. Now, we call for swift passage by the legislature and a signature by the Governor to make this national model a reality.”

Alice Fontier, Managing Director of Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, said: “Today’s victory is a massive step towards ensuring that marijuana legalization in New York reckons with the hideous, racist legacy of criminalization. Since NDS began our work in Harlem thirty years ago, the neighbors we serve have been persecuted under marijuana criminalization for little more than the color of their skin and the amount of money in their bank accounts. Police, prosecutors, child services and ICE have used criminalization as a weapon against them, and the impact this bill will have on the lives of our oversurveiled clients cannot be overstated. We are grateful to the advocates, legislators, and impacted people who insisted that legalization reckon with the damage wrought by the war on drugs and ongoing criminalization. We join our neighbors in celebrating this massive step towards racial and economic justice.”

Gia Morón, President of Women Grow, said: “We are here because two women have fought and championed tirelessly for and with us, thank you to Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Women continue to make HERstory and today New York State is on the heels of entering a new era of change. Furthermore, if it were not for the Drug Policy Alliance, advocates, and community organizers fighting endlessly we would not be here. Thank you. We have seen the devastation that has impacted lives and communities; and today we are closer now more than ever for justice and repair due to the harms done by the War on Drugs. New York has always been the symbol of change and opportunity yet our communities deserving of this were faced for far too long with this barrel of injustice. New York can ripely set the stage for what can be a message federally as well as to this emerging industry – decriminalize, reinvest, and create fair equity. Our community of women looks forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to ensure these measures are met and together we can end this demoralizing cycle to create a healthy new system of repair.”

Missy Risser-Lovings, Clinical Law Instructor of the Community & Economic Development Clinic at CUNY School of Law, said: “We are heartened by the marijuana reform bill announced today, and its potential to repair some of the immense harm caused by the racist criminalization of marijuana and its targeted enforcement. The bill’s social and economic equity and cooperative license provisions, in tandem, will be major tools to help communities most targeted by the War on Drugs, and most recently the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, to build income, wealth, and power through democratic workplaces. We look forward to working with legislators and regulators to ensure that throughout implementation, New York prioritizes cooperatives for licensure, especially for the legacy and equity markets, and that it provides a robust support system for cooperative license holders, which is essential to ensuring equitable access to the legal adult use industry for BIPOC, other marginalized communities, and small businesses.”

Jacqueline Gosdigian, Senior Policy Counsel for Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “New Yorkers spoke and Albany listened: we need progressive legalization rooted in racial and economic justice that does not focus only on creating revenue but instead on giving back to Black and brown communities that have long suffered the impacts of racist enforcement. This legislation acknowledges that the ‘war on drugs’ is entangled in not only the criminal legal system, but also immigration, housing, employment, the family regulation system and more, with devastating impacts on nearly every aspect of people’s lives. We are proud to have worked alongside a strong coalition of people impacted by marijuana criminalization, advocates and elected officials to undo these harms and make marijuana justice a reality. We look forward to the legislature passing this long-needed legislation and the Governor signing it into law posthaste.”

Anthonine Pierre, Deputy Director, Brooklyn Movement Center, said: “Generations of Central Brooklynites have had their lives interrupted by marijuana criminalization, which often operates as a gateway to police harm and incarceration. Passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will be a hard-fought win of real dollars and cents for communities who have experienced decades of harm. We are proud to follow the leadership of Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Senator Liz Krueger, the Drug Policy Alliance and countless families, organizers, and advocates in this important work to divest from and dismantle the carceral state.”

Saye Joseph, Campaign Chair, Black Freedom Project, said: “The New York State Legislature’s announcement of a deal on legalization based on the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act represents the most sweeping drug reform to impact the lives of Black New Yorkers since the revisions of the Rockefeller Drug Laws in 2009. Black communities throughout the state are all too familiar with the criminalization that accompanies marijuana drug law enforcement. The decade of work done by the Drug Policy Alliance to decriminalize and legalize marijuana is a testament to what is possible when we center Black life and invest in Black futures. Thank you to Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger for championing the most powerful act of community investment and repair from harm that our communities have ever seen.”

Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said: “It should be common knowledge by now that the ‘War on Drugs’ has always really been a racist war on communities of color and other marginalized individuals. For decades, marijuana has been disproportionately used to criminalize Black and brown folks not for the sake of public safety but to feed the profit-seeking prison industrial complex. Finally, in New York, an end is in sight. This new marijuana reform proposal, which is the culmination of years of organizing and advocacy, could put our state on a path toward repairing some of the damage done by misguided prohibition policies. State lawmakers should waste no time in passing this legislation, and the Governor should waste no time in signing it. Marijuana justice delayed is justice denied.”

Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said: “Marijuana was first prohibited in the Southwest as a means to further criminalize Mexicans who were seen as a hindrance to white settlers who wanted their labor but did not value their humanity. Over a century later, marijuana prohibition and the failed war on drugs have continued to be used as tools to decimate Black and brown communities both in the US and throughout Latin America. Marijuana legalization has been long overdue in New York state and we applaud this announced deal on legalization as a necessary step towards ending the harm unleashed upon our gente.”


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23 Mar

Krueger And Zebrowski Introduce New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act

Albany – Today New York State Senator Liz Krueger, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Assembly Member Kenneth P. Zebrowski, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations, introduced the New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act (S.5921) to ensure New York State government procurement practices do not drive deforestation in tropical and boreal forests. Senators Reichlin-Melnick, Cooney, Kaplan, and May are prime co-sponsors of the bill.

“The days are long past when New Yorkers can pretend that what goes on in another part of the world has no impact on us,” said Senator Krueger. “Whether its climate change or COVID-19, tropical and boreal deforestation – driven by our consumer choices – is creating ecological and social crises on a global scale that we cannot ignore. When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. That’s why New York State needs to ensure that the products we buy are not contributing to the loss of Earth’s most vital ecosystems.”

“New York State has a moral responsibility to our planet and future generations to become better stewards of the environment,” said Assembly Member Zebrowski. “This legislation will ensure that we are not engaging in practices that drive the deforestation of the earth’s most precious forests. We have and will continue to feel the devastating impacts; this bill looks to protect what we haven’t already lost.”

By tightening an existing ban on the use of tropical hardwoods for government projects, and creating a new statute requiring state contractors who deal in forest-risk commodities to certify that their products don’t drive deforestation, the Deforestation-Free Procurement Act will help to ensure that New York State government procurement does not drive tropical or boreal deforestation, while giving a boost to growing supply-chain transparency efforts in the effected industries. The bill is modeled on similar legislation that has recently been reintroduced in California.

“Healthy forests are critical to a stable environment, yet unsustainable deforestation in tropical and boreal forests around the world is greatly accelerating the already rapid pace of human-caused climate change and pushing countless species towards extinction,” said Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Chair of the Senate Committee on Procurement and Contracts. “Our state government has the power and duty to make sure that the companies we contract with and the products we procure are not contributing to unsustainable deforestation and climate change. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation to make New York a leader in environmentally responsible procurement.”

Tropical forests harbor close to 50 percent of all species on Earth. Those species are now going extinct at a rate that is at least 100 to 1,000 times higher than historical levels, due to human activity. An estimated 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation. Taking into account carbon sequestration potential, stopping the loss of tropical forests, mangroves, and wetlands could provide over 20 percent of necessary climate mitigation by 2030.

Boreal forests represent about 30 percent of the global forest area, help regulate the climate through the exchange of energy and water, and are a large reservoir of biogenic carbon, storing twice as much per acre as tropical forests. Canada’s boreal forest alone stores nearly twice as much carbon in its vegetation and soil as the entire world’s combined oil reserves.

Globally, an estimated 18,000,000 acres of forest, an area more than half the size of New York State, are lost every year to deforestation according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with over one-half of Earth’s tropical forests already gone. At the current pace, the entirety of Earth’s tropical rainforests will be degraded or destroyed within the next 100 years.

Loss of biodiversity resulting from forest degradation and deforestation, as well as human encroachment on formerly undisturbed ecosystems, also increases the risks of zoonotic disease pandemics such as COVID-19.

The primary factor leading to tropical deforestation is degradation and road-building associated with logging for timber, while the largest direct cause of tropical deforestation is industrial-scale production of agricultural commodities. Industrial logging to make single-use tissue products, newsprint, and lumber is a large driver of boreal forest degradation and deforestation. Together, these products are increasingly known as “forest-risk commodities.”

The New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act will update and close loopholes in existing statutes that limit the purchase of tropical hardwoods by the state and local governments, and create a new statute requiring contractors that sell forest-risk commodities to state agencies or authorities to certify that they are not contributing to tropical or boreal intact forest degradation or deforestation directly or through their supply chains.

“New York State must be a proactive steward not only of its own resources, but also those of the rest of the world,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney. “Too often, our State’s purchasing power has contributed to the depletion of our world’s most essential and fragile ecosystems. This bill sends a clear message that this State will not buy products or engage in practices that harm our planet.”
“The experts all agree that our climate is at a tipping point, and if we don’t start taking action to reverse course, we will soon be past the point of no return,” said Senator Anna M. Kaplan. “It’s critical that New York continue to lead the way and enact common-sense legislation that conserves our critical resources and helps us turn the corner of the climate crisis, and the New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act is an important step towards making our state a better steward of our precious environmental resources. I’m thankful for Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Zebrowski’s work to craft this important bill, and I’m proud to be a co-prime sponsor.”

“We often talk about the climate crisis, but another equally dangerous crisis we face is the staggering loss of biodiversity we are witnessing due to habitat destruction,” said Senator Rachel May. “One of the major contributors to both of these crises is deforestation. As a sustainability professional, I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which will help ensure that purchases made by the State of New York do not contribute to deforestation of tropical or boreal forests anywhere in the world. It is imperative that we move public dollars away from practices that are damaging to the health and wellbeing of all of us.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “Trees and forests are one of the first lines of defense in the fight against climate change. They sink carbon and help regulate temperatures. Protecting these vital natural resources has been an NYLCV top priority for decades. This legislation would ensure that the State does not contribute to deforestation, which will improve our ecosystem and act on climate. Thank you Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Zebrowski for their leadership.”

Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager at Friends of the Earth U.S., said: “Forests are essential to stabilizing our climate; they are home to numberless species and irreplaceable cultures; and they are the Earth’s immune system, preventing the emergence of pandemic diseases. We’re thrilled to see New York State join the movement to tackle the root causes of forest destruction with the introduction of this crucial piece of legislation.”

Jennifer Skene, Natural Climate Solutions Policy Manager with the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Canada Project, said: “Our purchasing decisions here in the U.S. have climate, biodiversity, and human rights reverberations in forests around the world. New York’s bill is an essential step away from destructive forest products supply chains and toward the kinds of transformative solutions we need to protect our two lungs of the earth, the tropical and boreal forests.”

John F. Calvelli, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds Senator Krueger’s leadership to reduce New York’s contribution to the deforestation of valuable tropical and boreal forests globally. Ecologically intact forests are the foundation for nature-based solutions, which can provide nearly one-third of the climate action needed by 2030. Without them, there is no viable pathway to decarbonizing by 2050.”

Corey Klemmer, Director of Engagement at Domini Impact Investments, said: “Forests can be our most important ally in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, yet we are currently trapped in a system that undermines and destroys forest health and value. Our investments and markets, like so much else, rely on healthy forests. Through S.5921, New York State has an important opportunity to help shift the market and its own impacts towards a more sustainable system.”

Frank Sherman, Chair of the Board, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director at Seventh Generation Interfaith, said: “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 report, halting deforestation and restoring landscapes and forests is one of the best, most cost-effective options available to keep temperatures under 1.5°. In order to contribute to this reduction, it is important that all actors — investors, companies and governments act swiftly. New York State should take all steps necessary to eliminate deforestation from its procurement and in this way increase its contribution to Paris-compliant climate strategies.”


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