Monday, May 16, 2016

Lobby Day For the League

This week was a very exciting week for the League. We kicked off the second week of May with a large list of priority bills being moved in both the Assembly and Senate. On Monday we stood with Senator Daniel Squadron and his Senate allies outside of the Senate chamber to make one final push to move his LLC loophole bill through committee and onto the floor. We were joined by Senators Kreuger, Latimer, Rivera, Montgomery, Little, and Kaminski; as well as the Assembly sponsor Brian Kavanagh. There was quite a showing of press and several reporters made their way over to the committee meeting to see what would happen to the bill. Unfortunately, the bill did not move to the floor. Instead Senator Akshar moved the bill into Codes, he said this was requested by a member of the Codes Committee but did not specify who. Senator Squadron was distressed over the new committee assignment and this will likely be the last we hear about this bill for the rest of session.  The League was also interested in two other bills in this committee, one on early voting and one on electronic poll books. Both bills were moved to new committees and we are hopeful that they will reach the main calendar before the end of session.

On Tuesday the League had its annual lobby day. It was an extremely busy day and many other groups were also holding events and lobby days including the coalition on Raise the Age. Several of our members from Schenectady attended the Raise the Age press conference and lobbied with the group. After our morning presentations our members spent the afternoon mingling with their local legislators and advocating for voting and ethics reforms, as well as several social policy issues.
Wednesday was not quite as busy or exciting but the constitutional amendment on no-excuse absentee voting was moved to the assembly calendar (finally!) and a bill on allowing the State Board of Elections to make use of voters email addresses was also moved to Ways and Means.

Thursday former Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam were finally sentenced following their acts of corruption when Skelos was leader. The former Senator received 5 years and his son was sentenced to 6.5. The trial was live tweeted by several reporters and much like the Silver sentencing, we spent the hour and a half leading up to the sentences glued to our phones. Whether or not these sentences are enough to deter corruption in Albany remains to be seen. The rest of session will surely be interesting especially since it appears the US Attorney’s investigation of Buffalo Billion funding is finally heating up. As Preet Brahara would say “stay tuned”!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Session is once again underway and now more than ever the League is fighting to ensure something, ANYTHING, gets done on ethics this session. Tuesday was a monumental day with former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver being handed a heft sentence of 12 years in prison, $1.75 million in fines, and an additional $5 million in forfeitures, for his underhanded backdoor deals while in power. The League and our good government allies held joint press conferences in Albany and New York City calling on the legislature to implement stronger reforms on ethics and campaign finance. Whether or not the Governor and legislature will heed our cries is to be determined later this session.

On Wednesday, the League attended an event which we co-sponsored with Common Cause and the Rockefeller Institute on voting modernization. We heard from two former Colorado election officials on how their state has modernized their voting system successfully. The system in place in Colorado is both cost effective and inclusive of all voters. We were delighted to see several New York State election officials in attendance including the State Board of Elections Commissioner, Peter Kosinski, and Co-Executive Directors, Robert Brehm and Todd Valentine. The panel was well received and the audience posed many interesting questions.  

Next week the League will be extremely busy with our annual Lobby Day on May 10th. We expect to have a great showing from our members and anticipate our lobby visits will cover a wide range of topics that we are advocating for this session.