We started off the second half of the legislative session with a bang and a shout! On Tuesday we held our annual lobby day and had fantastic attendance from our Local League members. This year we had members from as far west as Chautauqua county, as far north as Plattsburgh, and as far south as New York City. We kicked off our lobby day with a huge press conference outside of the Senate chamber demanding that the legislature pass voting reforms before session ends. Our members were joined by Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Gianaris, Senator Squadron, Assemblyman Kavanagh, Assemblyman Carroll, and Assemblywoman Fahy. All of these legislators are strong supporters of voting reforms and sponsors of legislation that would make voting easier and more accessible. The press conference was aimed at drawing attention to these issues and the fact that the Assembly Election Law committee would be voting on an early voting bill the very next day. You can watch the full press conference here.
After the press conference our members headed out to lobby their state legislators on these reforms as well as the Reproductive Health Act, the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, the New York Health Act, a Constitutional Amendment to make clean air and water a first amendment right, and reforms to the delegate selection for a Constitutional Convention. A special thank you to all the legislators who made time to meet with our members, although they may not always agree with our positions we appreciate the time they take out of their busy days to sit down with our members.
On Wednesday the Early voting bill was moved out of the Assembly Election Law committee. The bill was reported and we expect that it will be moved to the calendar soon. We are hoping to see more voting legislation pass through committee in the coming weeks. Last session the Assembly passed several progressive voting reforms including this early voting bill, a Constitutional Amendment for no-excuse absentee voting, a bill to allow for electronic poll books, and a bill to make ballots easier to read. Unfortunately the Senate did not address any of these bills. This year we will really be pressing the Senate and demanding that they take up voting reform legislation.
Wednesday evening the League participated in a panel on the Constitutional Convention held at Onondaga Community College. The panel was co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute and NY Bar Association. There was quite a good turn out and the audience asked some great questions at the conclusion of the presentations. This is the 7th public forum the NYS League has participated in and the 35th that the League as a whole has done. We will continue to do public education as we get closer to the November election. To see our Executive Director, Laura Ladd-Bierman, speaking about delegate selection and process see our video here.