Like the rest of the nation, New York State allows its legislators to have outside jobs – they are considered part-time. Laws are in place to ensure that such outside income does not create a conflict-of-interest for the lawmakers – laws require a combination of requirements that lawmakers recuse themselves of decisions which may directly affect their wealth, prohibit them from using their office for personal gain, and by requiring the disclosure of the sources of outside income in order to ensure that the public – and regulatory agencies – can monitor lawmakers’ behavior.
The big news last week was the decision by the Cuomo Administration to prohibit the controversial high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is a technology that allows for drilling for oil and gas reserves that had been inaccessible until the development of this new technology. Not surprisingly, large, industrial scale oil and gas drilling has serious environmental and public health implications.
Tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans every year and costs the country about $100 billion in health care bills. Tobacco-caused diseases account for nearly 1 of every 5 deaths annually. These include 46,000 heart attack deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Despite successes in curbing tobacco use over the past four decades, it still is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Forty years ago, 1974, the “Godfather Part II” was a hit in movie theaters, the cost of a first class stamp was a dime, President Ford granted a pardon to disgraced former President Nixon, and the Universal Product Code, aka the bar code, was first introduced.
The Cuomo Administration’s preference for secrecy – even at the expense of the public’s right to know – was criticized in a report by an independent fiscal watchdog. The report examined the Administration’s plan to divert over a half billion dollars from New York City’s water quality program to construction of the new Tappen Zee Bridge. The Tappen Zee Bridge links Rockland and Westchester counties in the southern Hudson Valley. Construction of the new bridge could cost $4 billion.
Last week, the nation’s uninsured began their enrollment in the second year of the health reform law. The end of the first year offers the nation a good opportunity to review the impact of the law, without all of the reports of mistakes, the campaigns of deception and outright lies.
This past Election Day, all three statewide incumbents were easily re-elected, the Assembly’s Democratic majority got bigger, but consistent with the overall Republican political tsunami seen across the nation, the Republicans took back control of the state Senate and picked up some New York Congressional seats.
As the brutal election season wraps up, the nation – and the world – received another dire warning of the growing dangers of global warming. While the issue has been almost non-existent in the nation’s political debates, there is no doubt that it is the most important issue facing the world.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 is Election Day. On this year’s ballot, in addition to the candidates who are running for office, New Yorkers have the opportunity to vote on two proposed changes to the New York State Constitution and a bond act.