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COLUMN: Productive session comes to close in Albany

— The Legislature passed bills to create the I-STOP program and established the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Through I-STOP’s real-time registry to track the filling of prescriptions and improved education and awareness of prescription-drug abuse, we can better stop this social epidemic.

I was pleased to support the passage of I-STOP legislation. Prescription-drug abuse has become epidemic. I'm pleased that New York finally has a comprehensive plan to combat this serious problem. Through the real-time registry and improved education and awareness of prescription-drug abuse, we can help both doctors and patients better navigate the prescription and usage of these medications. I sincerely hope I-STOP will help prevent prescription-drug addiction before it begins.

The new Justice Center would protect patients with special needs from abuse and mistreatment, ensuring these vulnerable residents receive the proper treatment that they deserve.

Two disappointments included a measure which passed the Senate but was not taken up by the Assembly to prohibit spending of cash assistance from being used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets and would prohibit cash to be withdrawn from ATMs at locations such as liquor stores, casinos or establishments providing adult-oriented entertainment. I will work with my colleagues to see this pass the Assembly during the next session.

Food stamps and cash assistance programs were not created so people could buy beer, cigarettes and lotto tickets. This bill would help protect the integrity of the cash assistance program, the families who use it as it was intended, and the taxpayers. Though this would not stop misuse altogether, it would make it more difficult for some to abuse the system. I was sorry the Assembly Speaker did not include this on the Legislative Calendar for a vote last week. I plan to work toward passage of this bill in the Assembly during the next legislative session.

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