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NY Legislative Session Close to the End

NY Legislative Session Close to the End

With the clock winding down on New York’s legislative session (it ends on June 21), there are still numerous important issues that have yet to be brought to a vote. As the legislature heads toward its final days in Albany, Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV) would like to spotlight three issues that remain unfinished: the Reproductive Health Act, campaign finance reform and an increase in the minimum wage.

As a note, the “possibility of passage” numbers are wholly unscientific; they are there for your reading pleasure and to give you a sense of where each issue currently stands, in my view, and the difference that YOUR voice can make.

1. In 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court protected a woman’s right to choose with the historic Roe v. Wade decision, New York State legalized abortion. Since then, all regulations tied to abortion care have remained in the penal code. The Reproductive Health Act, seeks to move those regulations to the health code because, simply put, abortion care is a health concern, not a criminal offense. The Reproductive Health Act has been introduced in the New York State legislature since 2007—and each year the Assembly has passed it on the floor, and the Senate has failed to move it out of committee. Over 20 local politicians from the area surrounding the state Capitol, including Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, have signed an open letter to the legislature urging them to pass the Reproductive Health Act. The Assembly bill is currently sitting in the Health Committee, while the Senate version moved through the Health Committee and awaits the scheduling of a floor vote by the Rules Committee.
Possibility of Passage: 5/10
NY residents, take action here!

2. In his State of the State address, Gov. Cuomo called for campaign finance reform and, more specifically, a public financing option for New York State elections. While Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said he is open to lowering contribution limits and closing loopholes, he remains adamantly opposed to one of the key points of campaign finance reform: public financing. The Assembly bill (A9885) sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver has moved through committee and is ready for a vote before the full Assembly. Speaker Silver’s bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Minority Leader John Sampson, but it has failed to move through the necessary committees for a floor vote. Despite Majority Leader Skelos’ opposition to public financing, good government groups in New York remain optimistic that campaign finance reform will happen before June 21 or in a special session later this year.
Possibility of Passage: 6/10
NY residents, take action here!

3. The final issue that NY legislators should address before the end of the session is an increase in the state minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $8.50/hour. Senate opposition remains strong to this plan even though it has been approved by the Assembly. Gov. Cuomo has publicly stated his support for an increase in the minimum wage, but he refuses to put his political power behind the measure to ensure its passage. While the Senate Republicans refer to the measure as a “job killer,” the Greater NY Chamber of Commerce, Costco and over 180 business groups that make up Business for a Fair Minimum Wage have endorsed the wage hike. A recent Siena poll also indicates that 79% of New Yorkers support raising the minimum wage.
Possibility of Passage: 4/10
NY residents, take action here!

RJV advocates discussed these three issues with state legislators at RJV’s annual Advocacy Day on May 7. We remain committed to pursuing fair and just public policy rooted in our Jewish tradition and teachings. Our faith teaches up to protect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health, care for the needy, and ensure that public officials are not blinded by gifts and money . RJV will continue to speak out on these issues and strongly urge the state legislature to use its remaining time wisely.

NY residents: Please join us in urging your state legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Act, campaign finance reform and an increase in the minimum wage.

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