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How Gov. Cuomo’s agenda could impact North Fork

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2018 agenda last Wednesday outlining initiatives that, if realized, could affect the North Fork, including calls to address the opioid issue, immigrants’ rights and environmental issues.

The governor cited the rise in drug overdoses, mostly opioid-related, as a leading cause of death across the country.

“We must face it head on,” Mr. Cuomo said in his Jan. 3 State of the State address in Albany. “We are committed to a comprehensive solution: more prevention, more education, more enforcement, more treatment. But we also want to advance a new approach this year, the ultimate follow the supply chain strategy. Big corporations may own Washington, but they don’t own New York.”

The opioid crisis was manufactured by “unscrupulous distributors,” the governor said, and the state will sue to them to stop the spread. His plan, he explained, is to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, remove insurance barriers to addiction treatment and recovery services and put forth legislation that would designate 11 variations of fentanyl — a potent opioid that has surpassed heroin as the main culprit in opioid overdose deaths in Suffolk County — as Schedule I controlled substances under the state’s Public Health Law.

Mr. Cuomo outlined 23 proposals in his State of the State speech, promising a progressive government.

Here’s are some of his other priorities for 2018:

On climate change: In response to extreme weather events, Mr. Cuomo said he will launch Resilient NY, a program meant to enhance how communities recover after climate change-related events. It will outline resiliency guidelines and provide state funds for resiliency plans to prevent communities from flooding, according to the 2018 agenda outline.

Immigrants’ rights: The governor said the Liberty Defense Project, a state-led legal defense fund, will continue to provide legal assistance to immigrants, regardless of status. He will also push for passage of the DREAM Act by the federal government so that undocumented students can have access to the Tuition Assistance Program and scholarships.

Combating workplace sexual harassment: Mr. Cuomo is seeking reforms that will advance women’s rights in New York State. These includes a proposal for legislation preventing the use of public money in settling sexual harassment claims, removal of forced arbitration provisions from employee contracts and a requirement that companies doing business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they’ve carried out.

Preventing ownership of firearms by domestic abusers: State law currently prohibits the possession of firearms by those who have been convicted of felony or “serious” offenses. However, it does not apply to misdemeanor offenses related to domestic violence, such as assault, battery or strangulation. Mr. Cuomo announced that he will work to advance legislation to add those offenders to the list of those who cannot own firearms, according to his 2018 agenda outline.

The governor’s address also condemned the federal government’s tax reform plan.

“Our federal government has hurt our state’s economic position, both nationally and internationally, by taxing our state and local taxes,” Mr. Cuomo said. “They made us less competitive and they are helping other states at our expense.”

Photo credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address at Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Jan. 3. (Credit: Philip Kamrass, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

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