Bail reform, marijuana, school funding: Stewart-Cousins lays out 2020 legislative plans

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State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has a lot on her agenda for this legislative session, including the controversial bail reform bill and the possibility of legalized marijuana.

Stewart-Cousins sat down with News 12 to talk about what could be a transformative year in state legislation.

"We're always going to be looking at the job development, the growing economy," says Stewart-Cousins. "Obviously in a place like Westchester, I'm always concerned about the tax burden."

Also on Stewart-Cousins' radar is protecting the environment, funding schools and education, opioid misuse and addiction and the growing number of vape users.

Stewart-Cousins says she expects a bill that would bring lessons on hate symbols into the classroom to move through the Senate quickly following several anti-Semitic incidents around the state.

On just the second day of the session, the Senate passed voting laws.

"We did the early voting, which I think is so very, very important," says Stewart-Cousins. "Many of the bills we passed yesterday talk about where polling sites are and population centers and automatic voting registration."

She also says she'll be keeping an eye on the sweeping criminal justice reform bill that took effect Jan. 1 where anyone charged with a misdemeanor or most nonviolent felonies cannot be held on cash bail.

"We will continue to work with all of our stakeholders and make sure that the impact of the law is what we want it to be. Again, not criminalizing poverty, but criminalizing criminals," she says.

New York is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit in 2020. Stewart-Cousins says she and her counterparts will work through it full steam ahead once the governor presents his budget in the next few weeks.


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