• Need-to-Know News: Feb. 18, 2011

    February 18, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's DC office helped organize the NY Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers' second annual D.C. Hill visit, which included meetings with the staff of both New York Senators, nearly every Congressional delegate's office and the Senior Advisor on Health Finance for SAMHSA and the Assistant Secretary of Health at HHS. LAC staff also prepared a number of materials for the visit. The materials developed by LAC are available here. Click on the links under "2011 Legal Action Center Public Policy Info" on the right-hand side of the page to view and download the papers.

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • As the debate continued over Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to close 10 prisons, he said he was open to to letting lawmakers figure out which to close as part of the budget process, not afterward as he had planned.
    • On the Medicaid front, Gov. Cuomo's redesign team announced 49 ideas for cutting costs.
    • Mayor Bloomberg released his 2012 fiscal year budget  on February 17.
    • The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services released figures for the number of low-level marijuana arrests in New York City in 2010, which showed that these charges made up 15% of all arrests, the highest of any category.
    National

    • President Obama defended his budget plan this week, as details emerged and analysts raised questions about the plan's call for a decrease to Health and Human Services funding and changes to juvenile justice grants. We are reviewing specific proposals in the budget that will affect people with drug and alcohol histories, criminal records and HIV/AIDS and will circulate our analysis in the coming days.
    • The proposal does, however, increase funding for some key HIV/AIDS initiatives.
    • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced HR 321, the "Equal Employment for All Act," which would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to restrict employers' use of employee credit reports; four states - Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington - already have laws restricting employer use of employee credit reports, and 13 more states are considering legislation that would impose similar restrictions. 
    • PreventionWorks, the leading provider of clean needles in Washington, DC, announced that it would close by the end of the month, citing financial troubles.
    • In his first major piece of legislation, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia has moved to create a council to study alternatives to incarceration.
    • In upcoming weeks, advocates will be gearing up to oppose the drug testing of welfare recipients in at least 10 states and the federal level.

    From Our Partners

    • Marsha Weissman, the Executive Director of the Center on Community Alternatives, submitted a terrific letter to the New York Daily News on February 17, pointing to the contribution of ATI and reentry programs to New York's reduced crime and incarceration rates.  The letter was in response to an editorial that appeared in the paper on February 15 in support of the Governor's call for prison closures and criticizing the Correction Officers' union's opposition.  
    • Our friends at the Fortune Society have released a new issue of The Fortune News, focusing on supportive reentry housing. Follow this link to read the issue.
    • Our friends at the NY Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers joined with a coaliton of over 40 statewide and regional advocacy groups for New Yorkers with behavioral health conditions in calling for the Governor's Medicaid redesign team to support a proposal for a regional behavioral care coordination model that relies on specialty managed behavioral health organizations. Follow this link to read the press release.