Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another Theater Filled Week

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that there was a lot of drama here at the Capitol this week.

On Monday, we observed another theatrical performance from the Senate gallery. The transition of the leadership position from Senator Skelos to Senator Flanagan was one that, though strangely celebratory in nature, was nonetheless characteristic of Albany. From the perspective of an observer, one might have thought Skelos was abandoning his position because of retirement, as opposed to corruption charges! The League later attended Senator Flanagan’s press conference.  

On Tuesday, we watched legislation that would close the LLC loophole move swiftly to its grave during a Senate Corporations Committee meeting. Thanks to proxy voting, spectators and the media outnumbered the Senators in the room, with only 3 Senators physically present for this meeting. It’s now up to Senator Flanagan to revive this critical piece of legislation and we, of course, will press him to bring the bill to the floor this session.

And, as expected, the Education Investment Tax Credit made its unfortunate return this week when the Governor announced a new program bill called the Parental Choice in Education Act. The bill still diverts public dollars to private and parochial schools and the League will continue its advocacy work opposing this legislation, as it is bad public policy and we strongly believe public dollars should go to public education. LWVNYS, in coalition with many other groups, will be holding a press conference next week to reiterate our concerns with this legislation. 

Finally, next week the League will be holding its annual Students Inside Albany program! For the beginning of next week, we will be joined by 62 high-school students from across the State and will provide programming that will teach them about New York State government, how they can become involved and give them a chance to explore the Capitol and shadow their legislators. We look forward to sharing highlights from this great program soon. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Here We Go Again!

Well, this session has certainly been keeping us on our toes!

The Capitol was rocked yet again this week by the arrest of the Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on federal corruption charges. After a 3 hour Republican conference on Monday night, there was a “consensus” to keep Senator Skelos as Majority Leader.  However, by Wednesday, there were four Republican Senators calling for Mr. Skelos to step down. With the Senate out for the next few days, it remains to be seen if Mr. Skelos can continue under this cloud to maintain his leadership position.

On Wednesday, the League sat in the Senate gallery to observe Senate Democrats’ attempt to suspend the chamber’s rules in an effort to hold a vote on a resolution that would remove Senator Skelos from his leadership position. The exchange was a bit dramatic, but ultimately the Senate Democrats were unsuccessful in securing a vote on the resolution, leading them to walk out of the chamber. Earlier Wednesday morning, Barbara Bartoletti was featured, along with Blair Horner from NYPIRG, on Capitol Pressroom for a timely discussion on ethics and campaign finance reform. You can listen to their radio interview here.

We were delighted to see the Assembly pass 3 additional WEA bills this week, 2 of which (Sexual Harassment and Pregnancy Accommodation) also passed the Senate earlier this session. This means a total of 5 WEA bills are headed to the Governor’s office for signing! We will, of course, continue our advocacy work around women’s issues during the remaining weeks of session. To read our memos on the bills that passed the Assembly this week, click here (re: familial status), here (re: pregnancy accommodation) and here (re: sexual harassment).

With so much still up in the air, next week will likely be another interesting one, so be sure to check back in! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Another busy week!

Post-budget session is now in full swing and it was yet another hectic week for the League!

The breadth of the League’s advocacy portfolio was exemplified this Monday, when we proudly participated in two press conferences on two completely different issues. We hit the ground running on Monday morning when we joined Legislators and other good government organizations in supporting the passage of S.60, a bill sponsored by Senator Squadron that would close the LLC loophole. We then attended the Senate Elections Committee meeting to watch the bill pass and move to the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions committee. You can check out the press release for this event here.

On Monday afternoon, the League joined fellow members of the Women’s Equality Coalition and some Assembly Members at a press conference to highlight the Assembly’s passage of five bills that promote equal pay for equal or comparable work and close loopholes in current state law that allow employers to pay women less. This was definitely a victory for working women! In particular, A.6075 / S.1, which prohibits differential pay because of sex, passed both the Senate and the Assembly and will now move to the Governor’s office to be signed into law. The press release for this event can be found here.

We also made sure to attend the Assembly’s Election Law committee meeting on Wednesday to watch A.6975, which would close the LLC loophole, pass through this committee and move to the Assembly Codes committee. Our Memo of Support for this bill can be found here.  We also issued a Memo of Support for A.2529, which allows 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. You can read this memo here.

Next week is sure to be another busy one, so check back in for more updates!