Friday, June 10, 2016

Only 3 Days Left of Session 2016

My how six months can fly by! With only one week remaining it appears that once again no ethics reforms will be passed. This week the Governor released his independent expenditure bill which he says will help address the problems created by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2010 Citizens United case. Unfortunately for New York, campaign finance abuses have been occurring long before Justice Kennedy issued his final opinion of the case. The League distributed a full statement after the event which can be read here. In our statement we recognize that this proposal will only address a small part of the larger problem that we face with our campaign finance system. The League has spent a significant amount of time and energy researching and studying campaign finance and this proposal is not nearly enough to curb corruption in our state. In 2012 we issued a large briefing paper on the topic which can be found here. If you’re interested in seeing what it would really take to overhaul our campaign finance system it is certainly worth a read! 

This week the Assembly took up Assemblywoman Glick’s bill on reproductive rights. The bill would ensure that current law on the issue remains strong and would expand a woman’s access to reproductive services. As usual the Assembly Republicans took the opportunity to grad stand on the issue and try to gin up support from other religious members in the Assembly. This debate was unlike the debate in years past and seemed more akin to the debates that took place when New York was first dealing with the issue of reproductive choice. The new Republican member from the south shore of Staten Island rose to speak on the bill and ignited an all-out race debate in the Assembly.   Nearly all Democratic members rose to their feet to ask the new member to yield. 

Eventually the outraged members cleared out of the chamber as he continued his comments. When the members did finally file back in they launched into a nearly 3 hour “debate” over why his comments were both racist and sexist. Finally Assemblywoman Corwin and Assembly Minority Leader Kolb had to defuse the situation and ask for a short break in the session before the vote. The bill did eventually pass but it is unlikely the Senate will consider this bill.

As session winds down, the League is still advocating for some of our core issues. We are concentrating our efforts on the Contraceptive Coverage Act, the constitutional amendment that would allow for no-excuse absentee voting, and ethics reforms.  Even though the outlook is grim, we will continue pushing for ethics reforms until the very last day of session! 

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