Two years ago, I asked for your vote, vowing that I would serve our community’s best interest by breaking the logjam in Albany and delivering on a wide-ranging slate of much-needed legislation and long-delayed progress.
Reflecting on my first term as your state senator, I am proud to tell you that I have delivered on those promises. And despite the critics, have gotten many things done. I’m hopeful that those who doubted me during my first campaign can now see that I follow through on my commitments.
Along with other anti-Independent Democratic Conference challengers, we secured a true Democratic majority in the senate, and used that majority to pass a wide-ranging slate of critical legislation to catapult New York back into the vanguard of forward-thinking, progressive states.
And though we’re just getting started, here’s what we’ve accomplished so far.
We passed landmark tenant protections in the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act; defended immigrant rights by passing the Dream Act and the Green Light Bill; and we bolstered the rights or our LGBTQ community by passing GENDA, banning conversion therapy, and banning the “gay panic” legal defense.
We expanded protection for women’s health with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, and the Boss Bill. We established the first statewide maternal mortality review board, criminalized the unlawful dissemination or publication of “revenge porn,” and lengthened the statute of limitations for the sex crimes of rape, criminal sexual act and incest to ensure that survivors have access to justice.
We passed the most ambitious climate target in the country, and one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
We strengthened protections for sexual harassment and discrimination, delivered justice to survivors of child sexual abuse by passing the Child Victims Act, and passed Erin’s Law, offering children the tools to recognize sexual abuse.
We decriminalized marijuana and passed many long-awaited gun safety measures including the banning of bump stocks, and the passage of the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill. We expanded our use of speed cameras to 750 school zones.
Altogether, this is only a small glimpse into the vast progress we made.
It is not exaggeration to say that the last two years make up the most historic and productive legislative session in New York state history.
I have loved serving our district during the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing the growth and strength of my team tirelessly delivering tens of thousands of much-needed meals to food-insecure families, and securing unemployment benefits among many other issues. It has been a pivotal life and leadership moment to witness the grace and resolve of our communities of color, throughout the recent surge of protests, demanding that justice be served with respect to the unacceptable and outrageous levels of police brutality.
Recently, we began answering the worldwide cries for action by passing legislation that reigns in the injustice of police violence and misconduct, and which makes clear that racism will not be tolerated. In our police accountability package, we passed 10 measures, including the STAT Act, the Eric Garner Act (banning chokeholds), and most importantly, the repeal of 50-a.
This is, truly, transformational work I came here to accomplish.
I’m also proud to tell you that in my first term in office, I brought back twice as much funding for our district as my predecessor ever did, some $4.5 million — with more to come, pending budget decisions in the wake of COVID-19 this year.
Somehow, I even managed to find the time last year to get married.
As a first-term senator, the last two years have been a whirlwind learning experience for me. They proved what we are capable of, and also have illuminated what roadblocks still exist, and what priorities remain for us to tackle. There are several more important fights to be had.
We must pass the home stability initiative to keep more low-income New Yorkers in their homes, the New York Health Act to make sure every New Yorker has access to high-quality affordable health care, One Fair Wage — a bill I carry, to ensure that all tipped workers earn minimum wage — and the Healthy Terminals Act, another bill I carry, which will ensure our hardworking airport workers who continue to risk their lives during this pandemic will receive the health care they deserve.
I will continue to live up to my core commitment to you, to always use my voice to advocate for what is right and what is best for our community. I will always tell you the truth, no matter how difficult or unpopular it may be, no matter whose feathers I may ruffle in doing so.
It is the honor of my life to serve as your senator, and I am excited to once again be asking for your vote. I love being your champion in Albany, and fighting for the policies that make our state a more just and fair place to live.
The author is the state senator representing the 34th District.