Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons met with New York's Gov. George Pataki to discuss revising the state's drug laws. Monday's two-hour meeting took place as indications point toward a relaxing of the laws,

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons met with New York's Gov. George Pataki to discuss revising the state's drug laws. Monday's two-hour meeting took place as indications point toward a relaxing of the laws, which have been criticized as unfair.

Simmons has held a series of rallies in recent weeks to address the issue of the state's 30-year-old Rockefeller laws, which require stiff mandatory sentences, even for first-time offenders. He planned to go to Albany yesterday (June 3) to meet with legislators to advocate changes in the drug laws, The New York Times reported.

On May 8, the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the laws, Simmons launched the Countdown to Fairness campaign, and set a 30-day timetable for their repeal. Among those who have joined him in the fight are the group Mothers of the NY Disappeared and politicians Hillary Rodham Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, and Tom Golisano.

A host of artists will be on hand at 2 p.m. ET today for an afternoon rally at New York's City Hall sponsored by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Organizer Ben Chavis Muhammad said Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Jay-Z, Nas, 50 Cent, Erykah Badu, Carly Simon, the Beastie Boys, the D.O.C., Busta Rhymes, Doug E. Fresh, Fat Joe, Method Man, and Redman, as well as actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, are expected.

Pataki, Senate Republicans, and Assembly Democrats have agreed that the sentences mandated by law are too harsh, but they haven't come to an agreement on whose voice should be strongest in the sentencing. The governor and Senate Republicans would let prosecutors decide, but Assembly Democrats think judges should have the power.

After Monday's meeting, Simmons said Pataki seemed "anxious to get this thing done, as far as we can tell," and that the governor is "very aware of the unfair aspects of the law."


-- AP & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.



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