Issues

Gun Violence Prevention

Daily News cover with Jo Anne Simon and Roxanne Persaud as NRA targets

Jo Anne sponsored a major piece of legislation establishing a “red flag” law to help family members, law enforcement, and school officials prevent gun tragedies and has supported enhancements to the law, to increase public education and improve implementation. She spearheaded the effort to establish New York’s first-ever firearms violence research institute. Jo Anne also pushed for a package of bills to ensure comprehensive background checks, ban bump stocks, promote gun buyback programs, ensure safe storage, and more. We have worked hard to invest in frontline community programs and make sure that New York has one of the lowest rates of gun-related death in America, but we still have far too many New Yorkers dying from gunfire each year. The NRA has consistently given her an “F” rating and she’s even been targeted for her gun violence prevention work

Community-Driven Land Use Planning

Jo Anne has advocated for community input, responsible city planning, and real affordable housing in new development projects. She fought to bring affordability and accountability to the Atlantic Yards project (which still hasn’t delivered its promised affordable housing or open space). Jo Anne fought for the Downtown Brooklyn Plan to address the transit and residential needs of the Brooklynites who would be living and working there (proponents believed it would be all commercial) this plan has also shortchanged Brooklyn). Jo Anne led the community planning effort for Boerum Hill, including the Hoyt-Schermerhorn development to affirmatively plan for 6.5 acres of parking lots to become housing, 37.5% of which was low-to-moderate-income, achieving a city-wide model for community-based planning. No one is fighting about development at Hoyt-Schermerhorn because it came from the community and is working.

Jo Anne speaking at Atlantic Yards press conference

Affordable Housing

Jo Anne at a tenant rally

For far too long, families have been forced out of their homes and neighborhoods because of steep and unfair rent increases and landlords who gamed the system. Jo Anne advocated for the NYS Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which are the strongest rent laws and tenant protections that the state legislature has ever passed. But, we have so much more to do to protect tenants and ensure that Brooklyn is livable for working families. She has fought to raise revenue at the state and federal levels to protect New Yorkers from the long-term economic impacts of the pandemic, including a rental voucher assistance program to prevent homelessness. Jo Anne believes we also need to protect the affordable housing we have right now.

Jo Anne will continue to push for more and more deeply affordable housing in development projects, where the community’s needs have too often been given short-shrift.

Environmental Advocacy - Public Power

The challenges of climate change, widespread pollution, and the disproportionate burden it places on communities of color cannot be met with half measures. We need bold and big measures to reduce climate change, and that’s one of the reasons she supports the shift to public power so that our utilities and electric generation are publicly owned and renewable. Jo Anne supported the designation of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site to clean up the canal and its uplands. She was an early advocate to bury the Gowanus Expressway into an environmentally just and sustainable tunnel to reduce asthma and pulmonary disorder rates and pollution. Jo Anne strongly opposed the siting of fossil fuel infrastructure, including the Williams pipeline and will be working hard to pass her Stop Polluters Handouts bill which would repeal certain tax exemptions and incentives for various economic development programs that encourage the use of fossil fuels. She has earned a 100% rating from both the NY League of Conservation Voters and Environmental Advocates of NY. She was one of the few Assemblymembers to support a fee on plastic bags, voting in favor of the City’s original proposal.

Jo Anne speaking at a rally for public power

Transit & Accessibility

Jo Anne at press conference for B71 bus

New Yorkers need more equitable access to public transit so we can reduce our reliance on cars. Jo Anne has advocated for multiple fair and sustainable sources of funding for the MTA to fix the subway crisis. Nearly two decades ago, Jo Anne was one of the earliest supporters of congestion pricing to fund mass transit, reduce vehicle usage, and the equalization of tolling policies. As a disability rights advocate, Jo Anne has long pushed for an accessible subway system, which is not only the right thing to do, but our legal obligation. We must also increase sustainable and alternative modes of transit, including expanded bike lanes, car shares, and improved bus service. She was an early supporter of the Safe Streets Program from its beginnings in the mid-1990s and was proud to vote to expand the speed camera program.

Equality & Women's Rights

Jo Anne stands strong for social, racial, gender & economic justice for everyone. She passed gender-neutral legislation to update antiquated and inaccurate language in state law relating to police officers and firefighters and promote these professions to women and gender non-conforming people. Jo Anne helped pass a historic package of women’s rights bills, including codifying Roe v. Wade into state law to ensure a woman’s right to an abortion in New York well in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. She also helped ensure Paid Family Leave, equal pay for equal work, justice for victims of workplace discrimination including sexual harassment, and a bill to ensure insurance companies cover contraceptives. She has also been fighting to ensure that women aren’t duped into going to fake health clinics aka “crisis pregnancy centers,” that thwart their access to real health care.

The national dialogue and action coming from DC are moving us backward in terms of basic empathy and equal rights for everyone, including the disability and LGBTQ communities. And yes, at every level of government, preserving our democracy is key.

Jo Anne marching with her granddaughter at the Bans Off Our Bodies March on May 15, 2022

Education/Dyslexia/Reading Proficiency

NeQuan McLean with Jo Anne and his son

A former teacher of the deaf and sign language interpreter, Jo Anne has been a strong advocate for quality education for all kids. She pushed the state to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s court case to ensure equitable funding in foundation aid, which has finally been fully funded. She has also been a staunch advocate for students with disabilities, especially those with dyslexia, to get the instruction they need to be able read and be successful students, starting with early identification of children at risk for reading disability and evidence-based teaching of reading. She founded the annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capitol in Albany and is actively partnering with all levels of New York State government to align the teaching of reading with evidence-based approaches consistent with the science of reading. All our children deserve to read proficiently.

Criminal Justice Reform

Jo Anne helped enact major criminal justice reforms, critical to dismantling the deep flaws that perpetuate racial bias and economic bias in our justice system. She recently passed a landmark bill in the Assembly to ensure that everyone in prison without a high school diploma is screened for dyslexia, so that we can break the school-to-prison pipeline. She was a strong supporter of the recently enacted Clean Slate Act and champions fair and timely parole and granting parole for older people who have already served significant time.

Jo Anne at a rally to end qualified immunity

Election Reforms + Campaign Finance

Jo Anne after voting

Jo Anne passed a major campaign finance reform bill to close the notorious “LLC Loophole.” She doesn’t take donations from real estate developers, special interests or corporate PACs. She also worked to ease New York’s onerous voter registration deadlines for party enrollment, and paved the way for a significant reform. She’s worked hard to increase access to voting and to modernize our voting system and will continue to advocate reforming the Board of Elections.

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