Harckham Calls on NYS Senate to Reconvene & Pass Important Bills

Harckham Calls on NYS Senate to Reconvene & Pass Important Bills; Blocked Legislation Includes Reproductive Health, Red Flag & Child Victims Acts, Among Others

With legislators returning to their districts for summer campaigning ahead of the fall elections, Pete Harckham, Democratic candidate for the 40th New York State Senate District, is calling for the New York State Senate to reconvene in Albany to pass important legislation.

“The Republican led State Senate left a considerable amount of unfinished business when they ended their session early last month,” said Harckham. “Senators are elected to do the people’s business and they shouldn’t ignore the needs of their constituents in order to wrap up for the year”.

“Instead of throwing up their hands and blocking key bills from even coming up to the floor, Senate Republicans owe New Yorkers an up-or-down vote,” Harckham said. “No one can force them to hold a vote, but if the Governor calls a special session, Republicans should at least have the courage to vote ‘no’ on the bills they’re blocking. Senate Republicans continue to oppose progressive legislation at their own peril, as voters disappointed by the State Senate’s lack of accomplishments will remember which senators failed to deliver when they head to the polls in November”.

With Donald Trump’s nomination of an extreme conservative to the Supreme Court who could roll back advancements in reproductive health care, Harckham says the State Senate must reconvene to vote on the Reproductive Health Act, which would codify the protections of Roe. v. Wade into State law by protecting the right of women to make personal health care decisions and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. “The Senate needs to join the Assembly, who has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years,” he added.

Harckham also called for Senate action on the Red Flag Protection Bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill, which would prevent individuals determined by a court to have the potential to cause themselves or others serious harm by temporarily removing firearms from the home. “This common sense gun legislation would make New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators with the right to report and possibly prevent school shootings,” he noted.

In addition, Harckham called on the State Senate to vote on the Child Victims Act, which would expand and extend the statute of limitations for child molestation. It would also create a one-year “look back” period to allow victims over the age of 23 to file lawsuits against alleged offenders or the institutions where they worked for incidents of sexual abuse dating back potentially decades. “This bill allows victims to pursue justice and hold perpetrators and those who enabled them accountable,” he added.

Harckham noted a number of additional bills that the State Senate has not voted on, but could if it were to reconvene, covering such issues as decoupling teacher evaluations from student test performance, automatic voter registration, local government tax extenders, immigrant assistance, enhanced ethics and campaign finance loopholes, among others.

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Pete’s Renewable Energy Op-ed in The Examiner: Time for Wholesale Switch to Renewable Energy

This op-ed by Pete on renewable energy appeared in The Examiner’s July 3, 2018 edition.  

Many local residents are concerned about the safety of living in proximity to the influx of gas pipeline infrastructure. I first became aware of this issue several years ago while Chair of the Board of Legislators Committee on Parks, Labor and Housing and the Spectra pipeline was expanding through Blue Mountain reservation. We held several hearings where experts detailed the health and safety impacts of living near gas infrastructure. Whether expanding a gas pipeline near a school or running a high-pressure gas line near a sensitive site like Indian Point made no sense then and makes no sense now.

Residents are also concerned about the proliferation of gas pipeline compressor stations, like the one in Southeast in Putnam County, and new micro power plants fueled by natural gas. Not only do they both emit methane, with 80% more heat trapping potential than carbon, they also emit volatile organic compounds like benzene, a known carcinogen. These facilities emit over 5.7M pounds of toxins annually.

Currently, the DEC does not require state of the art emissions controls for all gas facilities. The DEC is currently reviewing new standards for such facilities. To protect the health of New Yorkers, DEC should require gas facilities to utilize Lowest Achievable Emissions Rate technology. This is readily available technology and will reduce adverse health impacts to New Yorkers living in proximity to such infrastructure. With 80,000 people per decade more expected to die due to the Trump cuts to clean air & water regulations, according to a recently released Harvard study, New Yorkers deserve nothing less.

Fortunately there is good news. Natural gas was once considered a transition fuel to a cleaner energy system because it contributes fewer green house gases than coal or oil. However, not only have we learned more about the health impacts of gas infrastructure in the intervening years, renewable energy technology is now abundant and financially more attractive.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2016, global investment in wind and solar power more than doubled that of nuclear, coal, oil and gas generated power by $297B to $143B. Private markets are now realizing that renewable energy is less expensive to produce than carbon based energy, and the technology is abundant and competitive. While New York is a national leader in solar proliferation, we need to double down and expand opportunities, not just for personal renewables, but large-scale commercial renewable energy as well.

My mother lives in a retirement community where every outdoor parking space is shielded from the elements by solar panels above. Further, the facility uses vacant land to host a ‘solar farm’, further reducing their dependence on the grid. As a County Legislator I passed a Solar Inventory Act. Require Westchester to analyze every county owned roof, parking lot and spare land for the suitability of large-scale solar installation. We should do the same at the state level, including SUNY and our state highway right of ways. By employing net metering, the excess energy created flows back into the grid and the owner’s utility bill is reduced.

When the private sector invests twice in renewables what it has in carbon-based energy, we are no longer living with renewables as a “down the road” vision unique to environmentalists. Renewables are now the more cost effective and safer form of energy generation. Wall Street has embraced this. Will we?

Pete Harckham

Peter Harckham served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators representing northeast Westchester from 2008-2015, and in the Governor’s Administration from 2015-2018. He is currently a candidate for New York State Senate in the 40th District.

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Pete Endorsed by 32BJ SEIU!

Democratic State Senate candidate Pete Harckham issued the following statement today after he was endorsed by 32BJ SEIU, one of the largest and most politically active progressive unions in New York State:

“I am honored to be endorsed by 32BJ. They have been successfully fighting for the rights of working people for decades. Now it is more important than ever to stand united with our partners in the labor to fight rollbacks by Trump and extremist Republicans in congress and their allies in Albany.”

Hector Figueroa, President of  32BJ SEIU:

“Right now, more than ever, New York State needs champions of that will fight for workers’ rights. Union members are focused on electing progressive candidates to represent working New Yorkers in Albany. In the face of unprecedented attacks on working families, we are endorsing candidates who will fight for good jobs and help more New Yorkers join and form unions.  Together we will champion legislation to protect immigrant communities, defend voting rights and access, achieve bail reform, and stand up for policies to protect the environment. ”

Thousands of 32BJ SEIU members will get involved in political action this year to remind voters, candidates and elected officials that New York needs unions to build the middle class.

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Justice Kennedy’s retirement should alarm voters in New York

Democratic Senate candidate Pete Harckham made the following statement today about the implications of Justice Kennedy’s retirement on New York:

Today’s news of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement should alarm every voter who cares about women’s rights, LGBT rights, civil rights, or any number of any issues of deep importance to New Yorkers. This will be a body blow to women’s essential reproductive freedom in New York unless we vote out Republican State Senators like Terrence Murphy. Murphy’s extreme position against choice is not something we can afford any longer. If we don’t elect a pro-choice Senator, our laws on reproductive health could revert to the state they were in before Roe v. Wade was the law of the land.

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Reaction to Janus Ruling

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case, which is expected to significantly hurt the ability of public sector unions to organize and represent employees, Democratic State Senate candidate Pete Harckham made the following statement:

This Supreme Court has been unhinged. Today’s ruling eviscerating public sector unions – the culmination of a thinly veiled assault years in the making – is the icing on the cake of weeks worth of decisions that go against both history and our core values. But I have news for anyone who would try to silence working men and women: that’s not gonna happen. One court decision, no matter how wrong, isn’t going to stop workers from standing up for their rights, with me and allies like me with them every step of the way.

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LoHud: Sen. Terrence Murphy ‘unfair’ in campaign statement: committee

A committee that hears complaints over fairness in political campaigns said one of its recent rulings was mischaracterized.

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee found it “unfair” that New York State Sen. Terrence Murphy issued a press statement that said the committee found his opponent “lied” about Murphy’s role in nominating Donald Trump.

For more, click here.

Fair Campaign Practices Committee Finds Murphy Attack “Unfair”

June 20, 2018: Harckham for Senate Campaign Manager TJ Rogers issued the following statement this morning after the Fair Campaign Practices Committee found that Sen. Terrence Murphy had misrepresented the Committee’s past findings.

“Senator Murphy treats the Fair Campaigns process like a game to score political points and leverage a tactical campaign advantage. Frankly it’s a tedious game, and the voters will quickly lose their patience for it, if they haven’t already. Let’s stop this nonsense, and focus on issues that matter to voters like passing the Child Victims Act or the Red Flag legislation to keep our schools and families safe. These other antics are just a distraction to prevent a real discussion about his record on the issues.”

Per Fair Campaign Practices Committee standards, their finding is reproduced in full below.

COMPLAINT: Candidate for NY State Senate, Peter Harckham, complained that State Senator Terrence Murphy misrepresented the finding of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee by posting and distributing a press release alleging the Committee found that Pete Harckham “lied” about Terrence Murphy’s role in the Republican nomination of Donald Trump, when in fact the finding simply stated, “The statement was inaccurate.”

FINDING: UNFAIR. Senator Murphy’s press release is in violation of one of the Committee’s principles “The Committee considers selective quotation or misrepresentation of its findings to be an unfair campaign practice” since the Committee did not say Mr. Harckham “lied”; the Committee said “The statement was inaccurate.” Senator Murphy’s Facebook page continues to include a link to the News 12 story quoting the original press release.

NOTE TO THE PUBLIC & THE MEDIA: A core belief of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee is that words matter. Because the Committee’s findings are often used by candidates in their campaigns, the Committee crafts them carefully to minimize the mischaracterization of its determinations. The Committee writes unfair rather than guilty because it is not a court of law and does not want to give the mistaken impression that a complainee has engaged in an illegal practice. It does not rule but rather finds candidates’ complaints to be fair, as in normal political discourse, or unfair if they are false or misleading. The Committee requires individual findings to be quoted in full, so that its conclusions are not used to mislead the voters.