This week the legislature continued their budget hearings and negotiations. On Monday the Environmental budget hearing was interrupted by protesters fighting for climate change justice. This is the second budget hearing that was temporarily halted due to protesters (the first was last week during the Tax hearing). These are the same protesters who staged a sit in in Governor Cuomo’s office earlier this year. Some protesters had been arrested during that demonstration but luckily no one was arrested Monday and after several minutes of chanting the group filed out of the hearing room. Some attempted to return later and ultimately the guards resorted to locking one set of doors so that no one could sneak through.
Tuesday was an extremely busy day. The Education Budget testimony occupied much of our attention. Although we were not given the opportunity to testify this year we did submit testimony to the committee. You can read our overview of the budget here. We sat in for much of Commissioner Elia’s testimony and were pleased to see such a heavy focus on the need for more support for English as a second language students. In the morning we attended the Assembly Election law Committee meeting. Two of our priority bills were moved. The Voter Friendly Ballot Act (memo here) and legislation to close the LLC loophole (memo here) were both voted through the committee. We later attended the Assembly Health Committee where we monitored the NY Health Act, also known as the Single Payer bill (more information here). The bill was passed through the committee with Assembly Republicans opposing the legislation. Surprisingly, the minority ranker, Assemblyman Raia, did not allow his conference to debate the bill. He told the Chairman “We’ll save our debate for the floor”.
Later that day we were elated when the Assembly passed a package of judicial reforms including Raise the Age. The League is very supportive of raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 and we were delighted to see this bill pass in the Assembly so early in the session. We hope that the Senate will act quickly on this reform.
On Thursday the State League hosted it’s fifth Constitutional Convention forum in Utica with support of our Utica/Rome League. We had a great turnout and fantastic discussion from the audience. For more on our Utica/Rome League visit their website: http://www.lwvuticarome.org/We will be hosting a fifth forum on February 28th in Binghampton at the Vestal Public Library. More information on that forum can be found on the Broome Tioga website: http://www.lwv-broometioga.org/