Issues and Advocacy, Sally Robinson, VP for Issues and Advocacy, email@example.com, and Erica Smitka, LWVNYS Deputy Director, Erica@lwvny.org
We are nearing the end of session and have only four legislative days left before it’s over on June 2nd! Our primary focus over this next week, will be voting rights initiatives. If we are able to get enough support behind these bills, then we may see all three voting rights bills pass this session. Below is an overview of each initiative from our post budget lobby packet and where we stand on each.
10-day Voter Registration (S2951/A8858): This bill was passed in the Senate in 2021 and now an amended version is moving through both the Senate and Assembly. It was amended on the third reading in the Senate on May 23rd and was ordered to a third reading in the Assembly on May 24th. This bill clearly has the support it needs in the Senate and based on conversations with representatives it sounds like it has more than enough support in the Assembly. We just need to make sure this bill gets back onto the floor for a vote so that it passes this session.
Wrong Church (S284/A642B): This bill was passed in the Assembly and the Senate! It now just needs to reach the Governor’s desk to be signed. It is worth it to note that there were some small changes to this bill that voting advocates weren’t thrilled about, but the changes were deemed necessary in order for the bill to pass.
NYVRA (S1046D/A6678D): There is a lot of support behind this bill and it’s one that most voting advocacy organizations are pushing for in the last few days of session. In the Senate it was amended and recommitted to Rules and was amended and recommitted to Election Law in the Assembly on May 19th. Most believe this bill has the power to pass in session this year.
Bigger Better Bottle Bill (A10184/S09164): This bill was referred to Environmental Conservation in the Assembly on May 5th and in the Senate on May 11th. The bill was introduced by Englebright in early May and Senator May signed on to carry the bill for the Senate on May 10th. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much progress to move this bill forward since.
NY Packaging Reduction Act (EPR) (A10185): This bill was introduced by Englebright at the same time he introduced the revised BBBB. It was referred to Environmental Conservation on May 5th. Unfortunately, this bill has not yet received a Senate sponsor. Senator Kaminsky did not want to carry Englebright’s bill in the Senate and instead introduced his own piece of EPR legislation. The League, along with other environmental advocates, continues to back Englebright’s bill and will continue to put pressure on lawmakers to find a sponsor in the Senate and move both of these bills ahead.
Court Simplification (A09401 and S8424): The biggest hurdle to these bills this session was the lack of continuity between the bills. The Assembly bill was referred to the Judiciary committee on March 1st. It went to the Attorney General for opinion on the 7th and was referred back to the Judiciary on April 4th. The Senate bill was referred to the Judiciary committee on February 28th. We don’t expect either bill to move before session ends this year. The response to both bills highlighted the need for more visibility and education around this issue.
Fair and Timely Parole (S7514/A4231A): The Senate version of this bill was referred to Crime Victims, Crime and Correction and in the Assembly it was referred to Codes on January 5th. We have heard that there is enough support behind both parole bills for them to pass so we are pushing to see them move before session ends.
At its Board meeting in December 2021, the Board approved materials be distributed to all local Leagues and members in January 2022 for consideration of a new position on the structure of election administration in New York state. An Election Administration Structure Committee was created after approval of a new study on the topic at the state Convention in June 2021. The Committee met many times during the fall researching the history of election administration in New York state and how elections are administered in other states.
Twenty-three Leagues and 11 individuals responded. The Leagues were split almost down the middle in supporting and opposing the proposals for local and state election administration and the individuals almost unanimously supported them. Since 2/3 agreement is needed for adopting new positions, the proposals failed. Individual responses were considered but weighted less than local League responses adjusted for the number of members attending the local League meeting.
At the same time as the election administration study, Local Leagues and members were asked to support a new position allowing individuals in prison the right to vote while still incarcerated. Twenty-three Leagues responded, and 11 individuals responded and the new position was approved overwhelmingly. It will be formally adopted by the state board at its next meeting.
Registration is open for LWVUS Convention June 23-26 in Denver and virtually. See the agenda, how to register and more at: https://www.lwv.org/manage-your-League/council-convention .