The 2019 New York State legislative session is soon drawing to a close with the last day on Wednesday, June 19th. However, there are still outstanding bills that need our support. See the instructions below and help these critical pieces of legislation cross the finish line. 

#HALTSolitary Confinement

(A2500/S1623), known as the the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act to create program-based alternatives, restrict criteria for placement, and end the practice of long-term isolated confinement by restricting its use to no more than 15 days. It would also ban special populations from isolated confinement including youth under 21 and people with a mental, physical or medical disability.

They have the votes for #HALTsolitary but they’re still not bringing it to a vote
Please join a mass call-in from now until end of session. 

There are now 33 Senate cosponsors & 79 Assembly cosponsors of #HALTsolitary, & many others committed to vote. With only a few days left in the legislative session, time is running out to pass HALT. We need YOU to take action.

1. 3 minutes for HALT: Call Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins TODAY at (518) 455-2585 & tell her: 

“Thousands of New Yorkers are suffering in solitary confinement, for months, years, and decades. The HALT Solitary Confinement Act (S1623/A2500) has 33 Senate cosponsors and others committed to vote for it. I respectfully urge you to bring HALT to a vote now (as is, without watering down its protections), so we can finally end this torture. There is no time to lose. Do not let another mind or life be taken by this torture. Thank you.” 

2. 5 minutes for HALT:
Also Call Assembly Speaker Heastie at
(518) 455-3791 & tell him: 

“Thousands of New Yorkers are suffering in solitary confinement, for months, years, and decades. Thank you for your leadership in supporting the HALTSolitary Confinement Act (A2500/S1623). We appreciate that the Assembly passed HALT last year and that you continue to support the bill. I respectfully urge you to bring HALT to a vote now (as is, without watering down its protections), so we can finally end this torture. There is no time to lose. Do not let another mind or life be taken by this torture. Thank you again.” 

3. 10 minutes for HALT: Call Your Own Senator Too (find at openstates.org): 
“Thousands of New Yorkers are suffering in solitary confinement, for months, years, and decades. Thank you for your support of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act (S1623/A2500). What are you doing now to end this torture? Will you tell the Senate leadership that HALT is a priority and that you want the bill to be brought to a vote now (as is, without watering down its protections)? HALT has 33 Senate cosponsors and others committed to vote for it. There is no time to lose. Do not let another mind or life be taken by this torture. Thank you.”

State Central Registry Reform Legislation 

(A.8060-A/S.6427-A) is a bill to amend New York state policies on the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. New York is one of the few states that has a low burden of proof for child maltreatment that can land parents on the central register. Once on the register, parents are prohibited from certain types of employment—like childcare—for up to 28 years. Introduced through the advocacy of PLAN (Parent Legislative Action Network), this bill would raise the standard of proof for maltreatment and mandate that SCR records are conditionally sealed after 8 to 12 years so that parents can access more employment opportunities. It would also allow parents to challenge their SCR record.To support passage of the bill, call your State Senator and Assembly Member today.


Kinship Legislation

A.8059/ S.6405 expands the definition of relatives eligible to apply as a relative foster parent beyond relation by blood, marriage, or adoption to a child or to all siblings in a sibling group, therefore increasing permanency options for children in foster care and making sibling groups eligible to be placed together. This bill defines eligible kin more broadly as an adult with a positive relationship with the child, including, but not limited to, a step-parent, godparent, neighbor or family friend.

A.4256A/ S.4809A, allows for parents and non-parent caretakers in households with multiple children with disparate incomes/resources and households on public assistance to apply for public benefits for each sibling separately. Currently, Social Services Law section 131-c requires that the income of siblings be included.  For example, if a half-sibling has death benefits from their father then their half-sibling who does not have the same father cannot get a child-only grant because the death benefit is deemed available.  Exclusion of siblings would allow applications to NOT include a sibling with income.  This would also apply to caregivers on public assistance who would be able to get a separate child-only grant rather than putting the child on their own grant.

AARP has set up two toll-free numbers to assist in reaching out to the Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, and Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie.We are asking you and your caregivers to call these numbers and voice your support for these bills.

What you need to do:
 
For the Senate:
  1. Call 844-567-7802, listen to the message
  2. Press 1. It will connect you to Leader Stewart Cousins office.
  3. Clearly state your name & your zip code
  4. Tell them that you are calling to voice support Senate Bills 4809A and 6405
  5. Make sure the person who answered the phone was able to take down your information and has the bill numbers, and thank them for their time.
You do NOT need to explain what the bills are about, only let the person on the phone know that you’re calling to support those bills.
 
For the Assembly:
  1. Call 844-567-7806, listen to the message
  2. Press 1. It will connect you to Speaker Heastie’s office
  3. Clearly state your name & your zip code
  4. Tell them that you are calling to voice your support for Assembly Bills 4256A and 8059
  5. Make sure the person who answered the phone was able to take down your information and has the bill numbers, and thank them for their time.
You do NOT need to explain what the bills are about, only let the person on the phone know that you’re calling to support those bills.
 
This process only take 5 minutes. Please call both the Assembly and the Senate to voice your support!
If anyone has any questions, feel free to send them our way. 

#UniversalMAT

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) has proven itself to be a life-saving measures in combating the addiction epidemic occurring across the nation. Three bills passed the Senate that combined can move us toward universal access for anyone in need of MAT whether they are under Medicaid, commercial insurance or are incarcerated. 

A.972A/ S.4643A prohibits commercial insurance plans from requiring co-payments for visit to an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).
A.7246/ S.5935 establishes that all FDA approved forms of medication-assisted treatment prescribed for alcohol and opioid dependence shall be covered by Medicaid available under the preferred drug program. 
A.833A/ S.2161 expands Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders to all NYS prisons and jails.

Call Assembly Speaker Heastie at (518) 455-3791 and express your support for these three bills. If you have time, also call your own Assemblymember (find at openstates.org). 

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