Taking their issues to Albany
As state lawmakers head back to Albany, every member has a bill or two he or she hopes will make it into the mix. There are some larger issues on the table, like extending absentee voting rules into the general election, and amending the state constitution on how legislative districts will be drawn in 2022, but locally, state senators are pushing their own agendas forward.
In some instances, Long Island’s state senators, seven Democrats and two Republicans, are focused on new issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and housing discrimination. In others, their attention is on items that have been on their agendas for a long time.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Fighting science with science
A new TV ad running in CD1 features shots of hard-at-work health care professionals and suited-up scientists looking through microscopes and moving test tubes — plus language about the need for innovation during an “unprecedented pandemic” and Rep. Lee Zeldin “working with both parties to accelerate innovation and find cures faster."
The ads are part of a $165,000 TV, mail, and digital campaign in Zeldin’s district from American Action Network, a conservative advocacy organization. The focus on innovative science and cures is part of a multi-district campaign for the group, which is promoting a GOP plan on prescription drug prices, but it’s particularly well-suited for Zeldin given his Democratic opponent, Nancy Goroff. The former Stony Brook University chemistry department chair relentlessly promoted her background as a scientist during the primary and pandemic.
The ad campaign also hints at GOP strategy for combating House Democrats’ health care moves, likely to be a huge issue in the 2020 races given the year of the pandemic. Following successful health care-related campaigns in various suburbs in the 2018 midterms, Democrats in December passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which included measures to lower prescription drug prices including through negotiation by the Department of Health and Human Services. That effort, however, has been dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate.
The GOP alternative promoted by the AAN ad campaign is H.R. 19, a collection of standalone bills that has received some bipartisan support but currently is co-sponsored only by Republicans.
Zeldin voted against the Democratic H.R. 3 plan and in December put out a statement about his support for the H.R. 19 effort, with language that will probably be repeated when the candidates tussle about health care and affordability down the stretch: “When Long Islanders can’t afford to buy insulin and other life saving medication, they definitely can’t afford these partisan games in Washington.”
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
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Back to school 101
College is going to look a lot different this fall on Long Island. Episode 34 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a conversation with Theodore Koukounas, professor of mathematics at Suffolk County Community College, and Angela Jones, associate professor of sociology at Farmingdale State College, about the ins and outs of online classes and remote conversations on dense theoretical subjects.
The professors also raise thorny issues about privacy concerns for students who may not want to or be able to turn their videos on, and why child care means students (and professors) need flexibility during the semester.
Most of all, the professors miss their students.
“I'm looking forward to the day that we're all together again,” said Koukounas.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano