MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Dec. 30, 2019

Manhattan Lawmakers on the Move bannner

Johnson Calls Out MTA for Being Unprepared for Congestion Pricing

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) recently called out the MTA for their failure to prepare for the advent of congestion pricing in Manhattan.

In a letter he sent to the MTA on Dec. 23, he expressed concern that the transit authority would fail to implement a new tolling structure for cars that enter Manhattan below 96th Street by the January 2021 deadline.

“[T]he lack of communication and transparency from the MTA raises concerns that we are not adequately preparing to launch a successful congestion pricing program by January 2021,” wrote Johnson. “For planning purposes, we are fortunate that New York is not the first to implement a congestion pricing scheme. Yet, it is not clear that the MTA is relying on the successes and lessons of other cities’ programs to ensure congestion pricing in New York achieves its intended goals.”

Gottfried Denounces Cuomo for Vetoing PBM Oversight Bill

Richard N. Gottfried
Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown) released a statement criticizing Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for vetoing his bill to increase oversight of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

A PBM is a third-party company that manages prescription drug benefits for commercial and federal health plants. In the past few years, PBMs have become notorious among pharmacy customers for their lack of transparency. Some have been accused of engaging in “spread pricing”, a practice that has them profit on the difference between what they charge health plans and how they reimburse pharmacies.

Gottfried’s bill would have addressed these practices and mandated increased financial transparency.

“”The PBM industry spent a lot of money lobbying against this consumer protection bill,” said Gottfried. “PBMs are widely recognized as major players in driving up drug costs and profiteering at the expense of people who pay health insurance premiums, patients, and pharmacists.  They’re a black box, operating in secret with no effective regulation.”

Espaillat Discusses Recent Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes on MSNBC

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill) appeared on MSNBC yesterday morning to discuss, among other things, a recent mass stabbing at a Hanukkah party in Rockland County.

On Dec. 29, a blade-wielding assailant broke into a Rabbi’s home in Monsey and stabbed five partygoers. The NYPD found and arrested the suspect a day later.

The attack was just the latest of a series of anti-Semitic attacks that took place in New York over the course of the past week.

“Ultimately this is a social problem and we have seen increased waves of hate crimes across the country that we must continue to combat and condemn,” said Espaillat. “We are praying for the recovery of each of the victims and all who were involved in the Rockland County attack.”

Tish James Sues EPA for Rolling Back Clean Water Act

Attorney General of NY Letitia James
Attorney General of NY Letitia James

Last week, Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for rolling back the Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule.

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, regulates and limits the discharge of pollution into the U.S.’s surface waters. In 2015, the EPA published the Clean Water Rule, which expanded the protections to cover lakes, streams and wetlands. This year, under President Donald Trump (R), the EPA officially rescinded the new rule.

“This regressive rule ignores science and the law and strips our waters of basic protections under the Clean Water Act,” said James. “Attorneys general across this nation will not stand by as the Trump administration seeks to reverse decades of progress we’ve made in fighting water pollution.”