Cuomo 3rd Inaugural Address Underscores Efforts to End Cash Bail, Conversion Therapy

NYAPRS Note: Upon beginning his third term yesterday at an inaugural address on Ellis Island, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged a series of initiatives he wants to put into law that he outlined several weeks ago in an address to the NYC Bar Association. See below for details.

NYAPRS is particularly in strong support of the Governor’s push to end cash bail and stop countless avoidable arrests and entry in our criminal justice system (many by affecting New Yorkers with behavioral health conditions, and to put a legal end to conversion therapy designed to change an individual's sexual orientation.

Our 2019 legislative priorities include a substantive housing rate hike, a 2.9% Cost of Living Adjustment, passage of the HALT bill that will include an end to solitary confinement for people with mental health conditions and another round of Crisis Intervention Team initiatives.

Look for more details in the next few days about how to push for these issues at NYAPRS Annual Albany Legislative Day on February 26.

Three Takeaways: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Inaugural Address on Ellis Island

By Joseph Spector Rochester Democrat & Chronicle  January 1, 2019

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the oath of office for a third term Tuesday, vowing to fight federal policies and advance a broad agenda for New Yorkers.

The Democratic governor gave his remarks on Ellis Island, symbolizing his differences with President Donald Trump over immigration and other national issues.

"There is now a fundamental questioning of the viability of the American promise — a covenant that created our national founding 242 years ago and reached full flower right here in this great hall," Cuomo said in his speech.

The Democratic governor was first elected in 2010, and he has promised to implement a sweeping platform with his party fully in control of the state Legislature for the first time during his tenure.

Cuomo, 61, has been speculated as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, but he has repeatedly stressed he will not run.

He urged New York would lead the nation by coming together, not through division…..


In the roughly half-hour speech, Cuomo pledged a series of initiatives he wants to put into law that he outlined during his successful campaign last year and more specifically in recent weeks.

They include stronger abortion rights, tighter gun-control laws, the legalization of recreational marijuana and the end of cash bail so low-level criminals are not kept in jail unnecessarily.

He challenged his fellow Democrats to make sure the agenda is passed as the six-month legislative session starts Jan. 9.

Democrats won the Senate majority for the first time in a decade in last November's election.

"We either perform by delivering real solutions that restore hope and progress in people's lives or we fail," Cuomo said. 

"And failure is not an option for New Yorkers."

Andrew Cuomo's Agenda: 10 Laws He Wants To Change In New York

by Jon Campbell, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle  December 17, 2018

Here's a look at 10 things Cuomo vowed to pursue in the early part of the new year:

1) Make The Property-Tax Cap Permanent

Cuomo was first elected in 2010 on a promise to cap local property taxes, which he and lawmakers did in 2011.

But the state's cap — set at the lower of 2 percent or the rate of inflation — is set to expire in 2020.

Cuomo wants to make it permanent.

He also wants to extend a higher tax on the state's top earners, something that is a consistent topic of debate at the Capitol.

"We must maintain our millionaire's tax, also make permanent our 2 percent cap on the regressive local property taxes, something that FDR fought against for decades," Cuomo said.

2) Bolster Abortion Rights

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new steps Monday, July 9, 2018, to strengthen abortion rights in New York. 

Federal abortion protections through the Roe v. Wade case go further than the protections in New York law.

Abortion also remains in the state's penal code, which outlines crimes and the punishment they carry.

For years, pro-choice advocates and Democratic lawmakers had pushed to install Roe v. Wade rights into state law to protect against the decision being overturned by a conservative Supreme Court.

With a fully Democratic Legislature in place, Cuomo has vowed to approve that measure within the first 30 days of 2019.

3) DREAM Act

Republicans who led the state Senate since 2010 had opposed efforts to implement a state-level DREAM Act, which would allow those in the country without documentation to qualify for state-level tuition assistance for college.

With Democrats in charge, Cuomo said he believes the DREAM Act will become reality.

In his speech, Cuomo said the state must "pass the DREAM Act to open the door of education to all our dreamers."

4) Legalize Marijuana

Recreational marijuana became legal in Vermont on July 1, 2018. 

For much of his first two terms, Cuomo was opposed to allowing marijuana for recreational use in New York.

No longer. Cuomo offered his most forceful support to date for legalizing marijuana, calling on the state to take the issue up early next year.

The governor's shift — he called marijuana a "gateway drug" as recently as last year —comes as neighboring Massachusetts, Vermont and Canada have legalized small amounts of the drug.

5) Congestion Pricing In NYC

Cuomo has been facing plenty of heat for the condition of the New York City subway system, which is aging and is often in disrepair.

The governor has vowed to push for congestion pricing to help fund a plan to improve the subways.

Essentially, vehicle traffic that enters certain zones of Manhattan would be hit with a toll, with much of the revenue going toward improving public transit.

6) Child Victims Act

For years, victims have pushed a measure that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes and open up a one-year window to revive previously timed-out claims.

This year, Cuomo expressed optimism that the Child Victims Act would become law. 

Senate Democrats, who will take over control of their chamber in January, have also signaled support. The one-year window, in particular, had Republicans wary when they were in control.

7) LGBT Protections

The governor vowed to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide protections for those who are transgender and add gender identity to the state's hate crime and human rights laws.

He also vowed to put a legal end to conversion therapy in New York.

Previously, Cuomo's administration had approved regulations that implemented both of those goals. A law would make it harder for future administrations to undo.

8) Gun Control

With Democrats in control, Cuomo has vowed to bolster the state's gun-control laws.

Specifically, Cuomo has pointed to three different measures he'd like to see become law.

One would officially ban bump stocks, the type of equipment used by a mass shooter in Las Vegas to make a semi-automatic weapon simulate an automatic weapon.

The second would expand the wait period for gun-seekers flagged by the national background check database. Currently, the wait period is three days. Cuomo wants to expand it to 10.

The third bill, known as the Red Flag Bill, would allow family members or school officials to petition a judge to block someone from owning a gun if the person is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

9) Ending Cash Bail:

Cuomo said he will push to enact reforms in the state's criminal-justice system.

One way he wants to do it: Ending cash bail.

By requiring defendants to put up money or bond to get out of jail while awaiting trial, it discriminates against lower-income defendants, who often come from minority communities, Cuomo has argued.

"A judge should determine the individual's risk of release rather than the individual's access to wealth," Cuomo said.

10) Make Election Day A State Holiday

Cuomo said he's going to push for a number of reforms to make it easier to vote in New York, claiming the state has to "address the cynicism and skepticism that people feel."

One reform he's looking for? Cuomo wants to make Election Day a state holiday.

That would mean many workers — including state and local employees and others whose employers recognize state holidays — would get the day off, making it easier for them to vote.

Cuomo also vowed to push for automatic voter registration, early and mail-in voting and aligning the state and federal primaries, which are currently held on different days.