Senator Jen Metzger Newsletter
We have some new legislation and budget initiatives to discuss!
We’re officially one month into the 2020 legislative session and to keep you in the loop, I’d like to tell you about a few pieces of legislation I support that you might be interested to know about. I’ll also be giving you a preview of some of my funding priorities as we near the 2020-21 state budget cycle, which touches just about every issue you can think of--education, health, environment, transportation, taxes, libraries, the opioid crisis and more.
This past week, the State Legislature held joint budget hearings in Albany on transportation, environmental conservation, health and mental health, and agriculture, among other subjects, and more hearings will be held in the coming weeks. In my view, it's not enough to hold hearings in Albany, and I will be convening a budget hearing with my colleague, Senator James Skoufis, specifically for our region on Thursday, March 5, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (hold the date!). I will let you know the location as soon as it's confirmed. In this budget process, I'll be listening to you and fighting for a 2020-21 budget that is responsive to the needs and priorities of our communities.
Please feel free to email me at [email protected] with your thoughts and questions about any of the bills or issues mentioned below.
Requires the Department of Health to monitor the prescription drug registry to crack down on illegal over-prescribing.
Increases the Farm Workforce Retention Credit from $600 to $1,200 to farmers for employees who work 500 or more hours each year.
Ensures that those in need of insulin have affordable access to it.
Codifies New York’s fracking ban into state law.
Raises revenue on Wall Street to make sure corporations pay their fair share.
- Combating the Opioid Crisis and Eliminating Pill Mills in New York
- Providing Relief for Farmers on Labor Costs
- Increasing Access to Insulin and Other Life-Sustaining Medication
- Fighting Corporate Greed and Putting Our Communities First
- Ending the Destructive Practice of Fracking in New York
- Advocating for State Funding to Protect our Local Roads at the Joint Budget Hearing on Transportation
- Calling out PBMs for Rising Prescription Drug Costs at the Joint Budget Hearing on Health/Medicaid
Combating the Opioid Crisis and Eliminating Pill Mills in New York
The opioid crisis knows no boundaries, and our communities in Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, and Delaware counties have all been deeply affected, facing staggering opioid-related death rates that far exceed the state average. The Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction, & Overdose Prevention has been at work for many months gathering information and testimony from around our state on challenges and possible solutions. Last week, we passed a package of 17 bills, which included my bill to crackdown on illegal over-prescribing of opioids. Specifically, my bill would require the Department of Health to use the data made available by New York’s existing Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to identify medical professionals who are engaging in criminal activity and refer them to the appropriate authority.
Providing Relief for Farmers on Labor Costs
I’m thrilled that my bill to increase the existing Farm Workforce Retention Credit was voted out of committee last week, and I’m hoping that it will soon be brought before the full Senate for a vote. My bill would increase the Farm Workforce Retention Credit from $600 to $1,200 to farmers for employees who work 500 or more hours each year. With many of our farms struggling to survive, this bill is intended to help farms remain competitive by enhancing farmers’ ability to attract and maintain skilled workers, instead of losing them to farms in nearby states, while also protecting our long-term food security.
Increasing Access to Insulin and Other Life-Sustaining Medication
Patients with diabetes who depend on insulin for their survival need to be able to access this life-sustaining medication, but skyrocketing insulin prices are a major barrier, putting this vital drug out of reach for many patients. I’m proud to co-sponsor a bill, which is currently in the Senate Committee on Finance, that would ensure that when a prescription for insulin has expired, a pharmacist has the ability to provide an emergency refill. This bill would also cap insurance co-pays at $100 for a 30 day supply of insulin, among other provisions that address the insulin affordability crisis.
Fighting Corporate Greed and Putting Our Communities First
I’ve introduced new legislation to make big, Wall Street corporations pay their fair share when they buy back their own stocks, making themselves richer instead of investing in our communities. This would create more than $3 billion annually that could be used to invest in our public schools and reduce the property tax burden for individuals and working families in our communities.
Ending the Destructive Practice of Fracking in New York
I recently announced legislation to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for the extraction of natural gas--a move that will effectively end this dangerous practice and protect our drinking water, air quality, and public health. I’m so pleased to announce that just last week my bill was passed out of the Environmental Conservation Committee and is now on the floor calendar and expected to be brought before the full Senate for a vote soon!
Advocating for State Funding to Protect our Local Roads at the Joint Budget Hearing on Transportation
Once again, the Governor is proposing to keep the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding flat and eliminate $65 million in funding for the Extreme Winter Recovery Program in his Executive Budget. As a former Town Councilwoman and Deputy Supervisor, I understand just how critical these funds are for ensuring that our local roads remain safe. I’ll be pushing for increased CHIPS funding and full restoration of Extreme Winter Recovery in the final 2020-21 budget.
Calling out PBMs for Rising Prescription Drug Costs at the Joint Budget Hearing on Health/Medicaid
Last session I co-sponsored much-needed legislation to crack down on the unscrupulous practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)--the middlemen between insurance companies and pharmacies that are supposed to deliver efficiencies and reduced costs but, instead, have been profiting at the expense of residents and our local independent pharmacies. The Governor vetoed that legislation, and the fight continues this session.
Let's keep in touch! Visit my Senate website to share your thoughts on legislation and issues facing our district. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram for regular updates on legislation, upcoming events, and to see what I get up to in my travels across SD-42.