Thursday, February 14, 2013

Education, Elections, & Guns

As usual, our issue specialists were quite busy this week, but a couple got a chance to share what they've been up to.

Education specialist, Marian Bott, attended The Alliance for Quality Education of New York's (AQENY) policy conference on Monday, along with busloads of students and parents from all over the state. Marian said the speakers at the conference painted an accurate picture of what public education looks like on-the-ground now and how it differs from what it was four years ago before experiencing major funding cuts. Some of the most compelling speakers were those giving personal testimony, like Zakiyah Ansari of AQE who discussed what educational opportunities have and have not been available to her children over the years due to inequitable education funding. Educate NY NOW!, the education coalition that the League joined this past summer, was distributing and collecting postcards to send to elected officials, demanding equitable education funding. Postcards can be requested on Education NY NOW!'s website.

Government specialist, Aimee Allaud, is tracking bills on early voting, same-day voter registration, and ballot structure in the Assembly Election Law Committee. Aimee attended the committee's meeting this past Tuesday where Assemblyman Kavanagh's bill on ballot structure passed the committee with unanimous support. The bill, which the League supports, would create a ballot layout that is easier for voters to read and use. It will now be going to the Assembly floor, where it passed last year, but then wasn't acted on by the Senate. The other bills for which the League is advocating were not moved forward or discussed during Tuesday's meeting. The League will continue to advocate for measures that increase voter participation and will be meeting with legislators in the coming weeks to discuss early voting.

While at the capitol on Tuesday, Aimee also attended, as an observer, a rally in support of the NY SAFE Act. The rally was organized by One-Milliom Mom's Against Gun Violence and included several busloads of young people from NYC. During a pre-rally meeting, many youth shared personal testimony about how gun violence has touched their lives. The group then proceeded en masse to the million dollar staircase where several legislators were in attendance and spoke on the importance of the SAFE Act. There was a counter demonstration outside of the capitol, but there was no interaction between the two groups.

Also, this just in – the LWVNY board has voted to officially join the New York Women's Equality Coalition, the coalition of organizations working to pass the governor’s women's equality agenda! We will keep you updated as we move forward with this exciting legislation that would mean major progress in the everyday lives of women across the state.

Finally, the legislature is not in session next week so please check back in two weeks for our next blog post.

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