For many New Yorkers, the cost of basic healthcare is too high. Out of control premiums, deductibles, and copayments are pushing families to choose between going to the doctor or putting food on the table. Our current healthcare model does not work for the average New Yorker.
Assemblymember Barrett has voted for the New York Health Act, which would provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker. Didi believes that healthcare is a basic right. She supports a single-payer system which ensures everyone can have access to the care they need.
Assemblymember Barrett has also co-sponsored and voted for the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act to help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, improve birth outcomes, and improve the health and welfare of New Yorkers by ensuring that everyone has access to the contraception and information they need.
GOVERNMENT REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY
It is no secret that state government is in need of more transparency and meaningful campaign reforms. Assemblymember Barrett is committed to policies that ensure elected officials are paying attention to people’s interests, not special interests. She voted to strip corrupt legislators of their pensions, ensuring that New Yorkers won’t be left paying for their retirement.
Didi has voted to close the LLC loophole, which has allowed wealthy people and corporations to ignore campaign contribution limits by simply creating multiple LLCs to donate as separate entities. In addition, she supported measures to require online political advertisements to disclose their funding source. Both of these measures are meaningful steps toward a more open and transparent election system.
Assemblymember Barrett is committed to a sustainable future for our families and children. In 2017, she sponsored and passed landmark legislation to protect the Hudson River from a federal proposal to create more than 40 anchorages for petroleum carrying barges, effectively thwarting a plan that would convert the iconic river into a fossil fuel highway. Additionally, Didi has called on the EPA to expand their investigation of PCBs in the Hudson River, as well as continue active remediation efforts to restore the health of the river.
This year, Didi passed legislation to bring ‘carbon farming’ to Columbia and Dutchess counties. Carbon farming is the use of environmentally friendly farming techniques which help keep carbon in the soil, where it aids crop growth, instead of in the air, where it harms humans and the environment. Her bill creates a pilot project at five local farms which will implement and study carbon farming. The legislation is a milestone in carbon farming nationally. It will offer important data about the potential of farming practices to sequester carbon in the soil and will help farmers improve soil resiliency and productivity on their farms.
COMBATING TICK-BORNE DISEASES
The Hudson Valley is the epicenter of a Lyme disease public health crisis that affects many people - residents and visitors alike - each year. In fact, Dutchess and Columbia counties report the highest incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the state. Recently, the Columbia County Health Department confirmed its first case of Powassan virus, a rare tick-borne disease that is becoming increasingly common.
Assemblymember Barrett is fighting Lyme disease with effective policy changes and public awareness. This year, she launched the #GetTickedOff advocacy and outreach campaign - an effort that includes public forums featuring local experts in the Lyme community and a social media presence that aims to share tick and Lyme disease news, provide tick prevention tips, and raise public awareness about the epidemic here and across the country. To learn more and get involved, you can like, follow, and share the #GetTickedOff Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GetTickedOff/.
Assemblymember Barrett has sponsored the following bipartisan legislation to fight Lyme and other tick-borne diseases:
(A8829) - requires warning signage at all State Parks and campgrounds;
(A4863-A) - requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to develop an online resource to help homeowners with tick management practices on their property;
(A7558-B) - prohibits the investigation of any claim of medical professional misconduct based solely on treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical profession;
(A8105-A) - requires the commissioners of the Departments of Education, Health, and Environmental Conservation to develop Lyme disease-related instructional tools and resources for school districts and libraries to assist in education and awareness for children. These resources were just released and will be ready for the new school year. (Link to them)
Access to broadband is a 21st century necessity. Yet, in the Hudson Valley many residents still lack adequate broadband. In Columbia County in particular, inadequate broadband service prevents people for performing their school and professional work, curbs economic growth, reduces property values, and stifles communication with friends and family and even medical providers.
Assemblymember Barrett has been dogged in fighting for universal broadband in her district. She has twice brought the Governor’s Broadband Program Office to meet with local Columbia County broadband committees and town officials. And she successfully called on the New York State Comptroller to audit Charter Communications’ merger agreement with New York State to examine whether they are truly living up to their responsibilities.
Broadband access is one of Didi’s top priorities and she will continue to hold Charter, the Public Service Commision, the BPO, and the other broadband providers accountable.
DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORKERS
One of the biggest challenges facing local communities is the loss of young people who grow up or go to school here, but then leave to start careers and settle elsewhere.
To combat this trend, Assemblymember Barrett spearheads the Historic Trades Initiative. The Historic Trades Initiative partners with local institutions like Dutchess BOCES, Dutchess Community College, and the national not-for-profit HistoriCorps to train the next generation of local tradesmen and women to rehabilitate historic structures. The first project from this initiative was launched at Quiet Cove Park in Poughkeepsie in April 2018. Students from DCC and Dutchess BOCES worked with the team from HistoriCorps to rehabilitate two historic buildings in the park. The students learn new career skills and earn academic credit.
Assemblymember Barrett continues to pursue ways to forge partnerships with our local community colleges and businesses to develop a next generation workforce here in the Hudson Valley.
Columbia and Dutchess Counties both have aging populations and Assemblymember Barrett is focused on ensuring that seniors, often active and integral parts of our Hudson Valley towns, have the tools and support to Age in Place in the communities they call home. This means access to food, transportation, social life, medical care and the other aspects of everyday life, even in a rural setting. One important program that helps achieve this is New York’s STAR rebate, which Assemblymember Barrett has long supported. Seniors on a fixed income rely on this property tax relief, and Didi is committed ensuring the program continues.
Didi was proud to vote for New York’s Paid Family Leave Act last year, which will allow caretakers to receive paid time off from work to care for a family member, including an ailing parent; because no one should have to choose between making a living and caring for family.
Didi is also a strong supporter of Meals on Wheel and the Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income people, many of them seniors with fixed incomes, heat their homes.
FIGHTING FOR HUDSON VALLEY WOMEN AND FAMILIES
Assemblymember Barrett has been a lifelong advocate for women and girls. Last year, she was proud to support New York’s Paid Family Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or a sick family member. This legislation will help make New York’s workplaces fairer and more compassionate for all employees. Barrett also co-sponsors legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into our state’s law, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act & more.
In partnership with the Mid-Hudson Library District, each year Didi’s office produces a booklet called Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Stories from Columbia and Dutchess Counties as part of Women’s History Month. She is determined to ensure that girls and boys growing up today understand the important role that women have played for centuries in our historic region.
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC AND PROMOTING MENTAL HEALTH
Families in the Hudson Valley are suffering from the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic and insufficient mental health providers. Didi has been a longtime advocate for parity between physical and mental health services. In 2016, Assemblymember Barrett launched her Human Services Advisory Committee to bring together agency providers working in all these fields to share input on the state’s work with their constituent communities. Among the addressed issues are workforce, direct care challenges and coordination with state agencies.
Additionally, Didi serves on the Mental Health Committee and carries legislation called “Outdoor Rx,” which would create an outdoor recreation and therapy program for returning veterans, people in recovery, and those struggling with PTSD, or any physical or mental trauma.
Assemblymember Barrett is working with the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education (CAPE) of Dutchess County to develop a “recovery high school” in Dutchess County. Recovery high schools foster the rehabilitation of students diagnosed with substance use disorder and have been used with great success in other states.
The Hudson Valley is home to some of the best farms and farmland in the world, and agriculture continues to be a large part of our region’s economy. With an unmet demand for local products and a growing number of young farmers seeking to put down roots in our region, Assemblymember Barrett is committed to supporting local agriculture, protecting farmland from development, and ensuring local families have fresh, healthy, and afordable food to put on their tables.
This year, Didi’s bill, the Working Farm Protection Act (A10301-B), was successfully signed into law. This legislation will make farmland more accessible to young farmers, and ensures that it stays in agriculture, by expanding the use of state assistance payments within the Farmland Protection Grant Program.
Assemblymember Barrett is committed to ensuring that Hudson Valley residents are not burdened by excessive taxes. She understands that every dollar makes a difference for families and seniors who rely on fixed or moderate incomes to support themselves and their loved ones. Didi supports New York’s 2% property tax cap, which smooths increases in local tax bills.
When the federal government enacted devastating tax “reform” last year, many New Yorkers lost the ability to deduct the full amount of their state taxes from their federal income taxes. Didi supported New York’s recent tax changes which will help mitigate the impact of federal changes on New Yorker’s tax bills. Assemblymember Barrett will continue to stand up for New York in the face of federal policy that harms New Yorkers.
Nearly 20,000 veterans live and work here in Columbia and Dutchess Counties. Many are young and embarking on civilian careers here at home. We must do a better job to support those who served by ensuring they and their families have every opportunity to succeed when they return home to our communities.
Assemblymember Barrett authored legislation, which was signed into law, to ensure assessors across New York state understand that the Persian Gulf conflict, referenced in law, includes ALL operations associated with the global War on Terror, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Inherent Resolve (A.4859).
In 2017, Assemblymember Barrett secured $250,000 for the Veteran’s Farmer Grant Fund. The grants provide a unique opportunity for veterans to develop the farming skills and continue their local leadership service. The grants help veterans expand agricultural production and advance techniques to promote sustainable practices.
Assemblymember Barrett has also authored Outdoor Rx legislation which would create a program promoting the therapeutic benefits of outdoor recreation to benefit veterans, individuals in recovery from substance abuse, and those recovering from physical or mental trauma.
INVESTING IN OUR STUDENTS, OUR SCHOOLS, AND COMMUNITY LIBRARIES
Assemblymember Barrett, who represents all or part of 16 school districts, has helped our public schools secure millions of dollars in state aid to reduce the tax burden and modernize school infrastructure. Barrett co-sponsored and voted for legislation to eliminate the mandatory use of state assessments to determine a teacher or principal’s evaluation. The legislation would end excessive state oversight of teachers and allows school districts and teachers to negotiate an effective and fair evaluation system to meet the diverse needs of their students and communities.
Currently, Assemblymember Barrett chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Libraries and Education Technology. She is a longtime supporter of libraries, our most democratic of institutions, and she is outspoken about making state leaders aware of the important and often pioneering role they play in local communities.
In this year’s state budget, Didi secured $96.6 million in Library Operational Aid, and $34 million in Library Construction Aid. This is $10 million more than last year and more than any budget in over a decade. These meaningful gains will help libraries modernize their facilities, fund programming, and serve as many local residents as possible.