Senator believes state will push progressive agenda

BELMONT — From the legalization of marijuana to increased gun control measures, State Senator Cathy Young (R, C, I - 57th District) believes Albany will take a progressive path in the new year.

Young previewed 2019 in state government Wednesday during a visit to the Allegany County Board of Legislators Organization Meeting.

Democrats took over control of the New York State Senate in November for just the third time in the last half-century. The party now controls both houses of the state legislature as well as the governor’s mansion. Young believes that could spell trouble for upstate concerns.

“Now for the first time since 2010 we have total New York City-centric control over both houses of the legislature, and of course we know Gov. Andrew Cuomo is very focused on New York City issues,” Young said. “This past year as he ran in the primary, he became more and more focused on New York City issues.”

Young noted that Cuomo lost two more upstate counties in 2018 than he did in 2014, which she attributed to a growing focus on downstate concerns. Young said several of the newcomers to the state legislature are avowed socialists, some of whom defeated more moderate Democrats in the primary on their way to seats in Albany.

“It’s bringing this new radicalism to the New York state Senate,” Young said. “The Senate Republicans are no longer there as a firewall between a lot of these issues that are going to be coming forward.”

Young believes the Democratic dominance of state government will lead to a progressive policy agenda in 2019, highlighted by the legalization of recreational marijuana. Young does not support the change in state law.

“It doesn’t make sense to me why New York state spends $30 million a year on smoking cessation programs to get people off smoking and inhaling those toxins that are in cigarettes, and go forward and legalize marijuana,” she said. “This is part of a swing to the left, but I also believe it’s a money grab. They’re anticipating all kinds of revenues for the state coffers. They’re saying this is a way to bail out the MTA, the subway and bus system that primarily services New York City and some of the suburban outlying counties downstate. It’s been mismanaged for years, and it actually costs 3.5 times more to lay one mile of subway track in (NYC) than it does anywhere else in the world.

“I believe they want to legalize marijuana to dump more money into this pit of fraud, waste and abuse.”

Young has many reservations concerning legalized marijuana. In addition to the health concerns, she believes it is a gateway drug and more children will now have access to it. She anticipates more accidents on state roads.

Young also expects Albany to encroach on the Second Amendment — always a hot-button topic in New York state, home of the SAFE Act. While she has no problem with the banning of bump stocks, Young is not in favor of the more aggressive gun control legislation that has been floated in Albany.

“One of the issues I’m hearing the most about is a bill that was introduced by Senator Kevin Parker from Brooklyn,” Young said. “To be able to secure a firearm, you would have to have your social media and all your emails for the past several years searched by the government. Obviously there are a lot of issues with that particular proposal. It violates several parts of the US Constitution.

“I believe there’s a possibility that the Senate may pass that bill,” Young added. “I think they’ll change the waiting period in order to buy a firearm or weapon in New York from three days to 10 days, but we’ll see. There are a lot of very unreasonable bills out there I believe they will not only push but probably pass.”

Young also anticipates the legislature moving to pass late-term abortion laws.

“We’ve been blocking that for years, and I think that’s something that might get passed almost immediately,” she said.

Young expects much of Cuomo’s agenda to be unveiled in the 2019 executive budget, which could be included with his State of the State address Jan. 9.

With much of upstate New York's counties voting Republican in 2018, Young said it will be important for upstate to speak with one voice in 2019 and beyond.

“I believe we need to consolidate our efforts and be a strong voice moving forward,” she said. “If we don’t advocate for ourselves as a rural county, our values, our priorities, who is going to do it for us?”