State of the State
The Governor gave her annual State of the State on Tuesday of this past week and we were watching from the overflow room in the Legislative Office Building.
Governor Hochul started off by reviewing several accomplishments from the past year before discussing her priorities for the upcoming year. Largely, the focus of the speech was what we expected. Below are a few of the highlights. Click here to read her speech in full.
- Introduction of the New York Housing Compact, which will build over 800,000 new homes over the next decade.
- A plan to fix New York State’s continuum of mental health care
- Several public safety initiatives
- A plan to index NY’s minimum wage to inflation
- A cap-and-invest program to combat climate change
- Making child care more affordable and accessible
It was the first time in many years that neither democracy nor ethics was mentioned in a State of the State speech.
Senate Voting Rights/Election Reform Package
As they have for the past four years, the Senate introduced a package of bills last Monday to address voting rights and election reform. Read more about the package here. The League was quoted in a press release that went out about the package- click here to read the press release.
All of the bills introduced were passed in the Senate with several receiving bi-partisan support. A huge win was the passage of S657, which establishes the New York voting and elections database and institute to maintain a statewide database of voting and election data. This bill is the companion bill to the John R. Lewis New York Voting Rights Act, which the League supported last session. There has not been much movement on any of the bills in the Assembly.
NYS Election Commissioners Association Conference
This week the State League attended the NYS Election Commissioners Association Conference in Albany. We spent multiple days with commissioners from across the state, attending sessions led by the State Board of Elections and county commissioners
The League also staffed a table with several of our coalition partners where we were able to distribute information on election security and talk with county commissioners about how we could best support their efforts to reach voters across the state.
NYS Equal Rights Amendment Taskforce
The week of January 9th, the State League launched the statewide LWV ERA Taskforce to work on second passage of the New York State Equal Rights Amendment. We have representation from 30 Leagues and 36 members. We expect to add more delegates as we get closer to a vote in 2024. If you would like to join the Taskforce, contact your local League President and then email Erica@lwvny.org.
The bill passed for a second time in both the Senate and Assembly on January 24th—two days after the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The taskforce will now launch a statewide voter education campaign before voters have a chance to vote on the bill in November of 2024. If voters approve the amendment it would prohibit discrimination against groups who have been historically targeted, including those with disabilities, LGBTQI+ individuals, immigrants, women, and pregnant people. It would also codify abortion access in our state constitution.
Legislative Hot Topics Webinar
On Saturday, January 21st the LWVNYS and the Albany County League held a Legislative Hot Topics webinar for all members. We had 8 issue specialists and issue committee chairs on the call in addition to the State Issues Committee. The presentation focused on how NYS does advocacy and how members can get involved. Each issue specialists/committee co-chair had time to talk about their committee’s priority bills and which legislative issues will have the most traction this session. Click here for a recording of the session and click here for the PowerPoint, both of which have been posted on our homepage.
10 Day Voter Registration Bill Signed
Governor Hochul signed the 10-day voter registration bill into law on December 23, 2023. The law took effect January 1, 2023. Chapter amendments to the law recently passed in the Senate (S1327/A972) and are in committee in the Assembly. The chapter amendments make changes to current election law to account for the new 10-day registration deadline. We are looking more closely at the chapter amendments to ensure there are no unexpected implications. In order for a 10-day registration deadline to be enacted effectively implementing legislation must be passed and signed into law this session. The most popular implementation bill is one introduced by Senator Myrie last session (S1552 (2021-2022 session). This bill would allow for affidavit voting at poll sites on the first day of early voting and require local BOEs to confirm eligibility on the back end.