Updates from Last Week
Last Tuesday, the Assembly passed both GENDA (the Gender Non-Discrimination Act, A.4226/S.00195) and Speaker Silver's early voting bill (A.00689). Opponents to GENDA rolled out the tired bathroom argument again during the floor debate, mischaracterizing the bill as granting ill-intentioned men license to access women's bathrooms, a straw-man that the bill's sponsor Assemblymember Gottfried fiercely shot down. Referring to the 16 states and many cities that have already enacted gender expression anti-discrimination laws, he shouted “Give me one example, one example, of that happening!” Later, during the debate on early voting, concerns from the opposition mainly focused on unfunded mandates on localities. Democrats countered that, in instituting early voting, no new Board of Elections would need to be hired. Of course, if the Senate hadn't blocked efforts last year to create a single primary date, there would certainly be enough funds to deal with any cost arising from early voting.
The Assemblymembers arguing against GENDA weren't the only broken records at the capitol last week. Last Tuesday was also NYS Right to Life lobby day. They were there to lobby against the Women's Equality Agenda, but their numbers have certainly decreased over the years. As we walked around the LOB and capitol, their presence was relatively invisible. Nevertheless, members of the NY for Women's Equality (the WEA coalition), including ourselves, again countered with packages of fact sheets wrapped around broken record pieces delivered to every legislator. The tactic, used in previous years, highlighted the same tired arguments and flat out lies that abortion opponents having been using for decades to oppose measures to protect women's health.
Our week at the Capitol ended at a Wednesday press conference where Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill announced two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting voting rights and ensuring that all votes are counted. S.4270/A.6817 and S. 4269 would prevent affidavit ballots from being disqualified for insignificant, hyper technical reasons, as long as the voter is eligible, registered and in substantial compliance with voting regulations and remove the restriction on when a county board of elections can provide ballots to election inspectors problems that came up during the over 2 month recount of ballots from her election.
Check in on Wednesday for a post on the latest corruption scandal and the Senate Republicans “hearings” on public financing.