Friday, January 22, 2016

Short Session Week

This week was off to a slow start. Unlike past years, the legislature had a four-day long weekend and did not report to Albany until Wednesday. The League’s Wednesday morning was spent putting the finishing touches on our Transportation Budget Testimony. Unfortunately, we were unable to give our testimony in person but did submit it to the committee. A copy of our testimony can be found here.  The League did sit in for some of the testimony but had to run off to a meeting with Senator Comrie on voting reforms.
After our meeting we were on the move to the Senate Education Committee. We were delighted to see the Commissioner of the Department of Education, Mary Ellen Alia, speak to the Committee and field questions about possible changes that will be made to teacher assessments, testing, and programs for schools. The Committee was pleased to have her there and several committee members commented on what an improvement she was compared to John King, the former Education Commissioner who had spoken last to the senate. Although the League does not have a position on much of what was discussed it was interesting to hear the questions asked of the new commissioner and how she was received by the senate Republican committee.
Thursday started with an Assembly Health Committee meeting. The League was keeping an eye on A8580 which is an amendment to Assemblyman Gottfried’s Safe Staffing bill. This amendment would enact new staffing requirements that would help make medical facilities safer for nurses and patients. The bill was referred to Codes with Assemblymembers Galef, Walter, Schimminger, Goodell, and Garbarino voting against it. The League then rushed off to (off the floor) Assembly Codes Committee meeting. There was only one bill to be discussed, A8135-B. This bill would amend the insurance law to require all health-insurance policies include contraceptives for FDA-approved contraceptives.  The League was joined in the gallery by our allies at Family Planning Advocates. Only Assemblyman Graf had any questions on the bill at the committee meeting and as expected all Republican members voted against it. The bill was immediately referred to and taken up in Ways and Means. Assemblywoman Maliotakis was the only member to ask questions on the bill. The bill it passed and was referred to Rules  with the Republican minority voting against it again.

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