Friday, January 13, 2017

State of the State Wrap Up

Week two of session was a busy week for the League. We kicked off the attending the State Board of Election’s Commissioner meeting. The meeting was not nearly as exciting as the December and November meetings which involved heated debates between chief enforcement council, Risa Sugarman, and Commissioner Doug Kellner over the whether or not non-filers should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, we did learn that the enforcement unit is moving forward with a plan for get non-filers into compliance as soon as possible by issuing warnings in the form of letters and emails. Commissioners Kellner and Kosinski did not seem impressed.  

After the meeting adjourned we headed over to the Elections Commissioners Association’s (ECA) Winter Conference. Every year the League and some of our good government allies attend the winter conference in Albany to lobby county election commissioners on our voting priorities. This year we handed out materials supporting opt-out automatic voter registration and opposing voter ID requirements.  We were able to sit in on their Legislative Committee meeting and hear their debate over their new proposed legislative priorities. The committee proposed 7 new priorities included pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds, extended term lengths for Election Commissioners, new post mark rules for absentee ballots and voter registration forms, a proposal for automatic voter registration, and a new requirement for all New York voters to present a government issued ID on Election Day. The committee debated the proposals and ultimately only voted to adopt a single new proposal that would allow the county Board of Election offices to issue same day absentee ballots to people who are hospitalized within 24 hours of Election Day. This proposal will be added to their 2016 proposals which can be found here.

On Tuesday we returned to the conference and handed out more materials listing our legislative priorities related to election law for 2017. You can read our Joint Statement here. We sat in on several panels and spoke with commissioners from around the state about our priorities.   

On Wednesday the League was able to attend Governor Cuomo’s Albany State of the State address. We had members attend his addresses in New York City, Buffalo, and Westchester as well. We were pleased to see he included ethics reforms in his Albany address but a bit disappointed that they were the same old reforms he’s been pushing since before 2016.

Next week we will anticipate the release of his 2017 budget and the calendar of proposed Joint Budget Hearings.  

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