Monday, February 1, 2016

What a fun week for the League! Last Friday we celebrated the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with our Women’s Issues Specialist, Barbara Thomas. Barbara threw a fun party to raise money for Planned Parenthood and celebrate the landmark ruling that changed the lives of women nationwide.

On Monday we met with our ally, Family Planning Advocates, for their annual lobby day. They had a terrific turnout for the event even with the snowstorm that hit NYC over the weekend. The Well was adorned with pink banners and many legislators joined the festivities wearing FPA signature pink scarves and ties. The headliner for the event was none other than Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. She spoke briefly about the importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood and the service they provide to the state. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also spoke to the group about his push to maintain adequate services for women throughout the state. The most interesting speech came from Assemblywoman Richardson who shared that as a sexually active 16 year old woman she turned to Planned Parenthood when she had questions and needed answers. Her comments made more than a few male Assemblymembers blush but drew cheers from the audience of young women proudly wearing their pink scarves.

After the rally the group members were off to lobby their legislators on the bill that had passed through Ways and Means last week pertaining to insurance coverage for contraceptives. The bill passed in the Assembly with no debate and is on its way to the Senate. The Senate sponsor, Senator John Bonacic, also spoke at the rally telling the audience that although he personally is against abortion, his wife and daughter are pro-choice and he wouldn't oppose any woman's right to choose.
Monday was also the Joint Budget Hearing on Health. Although the League did not submit testimony this year we did sit in for many of the speakers.
On Tuesday we attended several Committee meetings including Assembly Election and Health, and Senate Health. This is the first Assembly Election Committee to be held this session; three bills were voted on and passed. These bills related to streamlining election night procedures, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to serve as poll workers, and adjusting poll book laws so that they can be typed lists rather than penciled in books.

Wednesday was a busy day for the League. Our Education and Finance Specialist, Marian Bott, presented testimony at the Joint Budget Hearing on Elementary and Secondary Education. The hearing lasted a grueling 10 hours but many members stuck it out until the last groups had a chance to testify. Our testimony will be posted to our website later this week.

While we waited for our turn to testify we stopped in at Assemblywoman Woerner’s office to discuss the Paid Family Leave bill. This bill will be brought to the floor on Tuesday which coincidentally is the Paid Family Leave lobby day. Next week we will join the coalition to lobby and present testimony at the Joint Budget Hearings on Taxes and Public Protection. 

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