Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

Issues and Advocacy: March 2022

Legislative Priority Summary

The State League sent out the form for the 2022 legislative priorities late November 2021. The forms were due February 1st, 2022. Nineteen Leagues submitted their top three legislative priorities. The top three priorities (in ranked order) are election law, natural resources, and healthcare.

Pre-Budget Advocacy Summary and Budget Update

On Saturday, March 14th the two one-house budgets were released. Unfortunately, we saw some mixed results as it relates to our pre-budget advocacy focus on ethics reform, funding elections, and making voting easier. Our work paid off regarding “Turn on the TAP” as funding to restore TAP for incarcerated individuals was included in both the Senate and Assembly one-house budgets.

Funding Elections

The Assembly concurs with the Executive Budget allocation of $30.4M in funding for the State Board of Elections.

The Senate budget added $10 million for assistance to local Boards of Elections for costs including continued implementation and expansion of early voting.

The Senate modified the Executive recommendation of $30.4 million by adding $5 million to establish an Office of Voting Rights, pursuant to a Chapter of the Laws of 2022. This is an early provision to include funding for the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

 Ethics Reform

Limited action was taken on ethics reform in the one house budgets. Both the Assembly and the Senate did not add additional funding to reform the agency, nor did they include the Executive Proposal for an entirely new Ethics Commission.

 Making Voting Easier

The Assembly did not include the Executive proposal to expand the voter registration period by requiring local boards of elections to process any applications received no later than 10 days before an election and postmarked no later than 15 days before.

The Assembly did not include the Executive proposal to require local boards of elections to establish one or more poll sites on college campuses whenever a contiguous property of a college or university contains 300 or more registered voters.

The Senate did not include the Executive proposals to reduce the deadline to register to vote from 20 days before an election to ten days and to reduce the required postmarked date on a registration form from 25 to 15 days before an election, and the proposal on polling places on college campuses having already passed legislation to make these changes earlier this year.

State Budget Advocacy

This month the League advocated for funding for ethics reform and budget transparency in the New York State budget. In March, the League along with several other good government groups submitted an op ed to the Times Union in an effort to push for JCOPE reform. The op ed was published in the Times Union on March 6th and in Newsweek on March 8th. In the weeks prior to the one-house budget release it became apparent that there was not a major focus on ethics reform in either the Senate or Assembly. This letter was submitted as a call to action for both Hochul and the Assembly and Senate to ensure that they prioritize holding public officials accountable by overhauling JCOPE, improving campaign finance scrutiny, bolstering the power of the inspector general, and eliminating the pay-to-play culture.

On March 2nd, the League submitted a memo to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie to urge them to reject the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget proposals that would give the Executive broad and unilateral powers, and to amend other proposals to better define their uses and oversight. See letter here:

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On March 24th, the League signed on to a memo with the several watchdog organizations and the Citizens Budget Commission which was sent to Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie. The memo urges them to include basic financial tables once they have reached consensus on the budget in order to allow for more transparency and accessibility. The letter will be posted on our site shortly.

All testimony and actions taken are on the state website at: https://lwvny.org/legislative-action/

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