New York saw a blitz of bills and laws this week to take abortion law out of the penal code, pass a DREAM Act, and enact early voting. Here's what else you may have missed in New York politics this week.
NEW YORK DEMOCRATS ENACT LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN ABORTION RIGHTS
(New York state on Tuesday evening passed legislation to codify federal abortion law into state law. Zack Fink/NY1).
New York state on Tuesday evening enacted legislation to codify federal abortion law into state law, exactly 46 years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
What this means:
In passing the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), both houses of the legislature took New York's abortion law out of the penal code. The bill also allows late-term abortions at the discretion of a health care provider, and authorizes physician assistants to perform some abortions.
The state Senate and Assembly also passed the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act and the so-called "Boss Bill," both of which require employers and health care providers to cover abortion and contraceptive services.
THE SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR A GUN RIGHTS CASE — AND NYC IS AT THE CENTER OF THE FIGHT
(Under a city rule, anyone with a "premises license" for a handgun must keep the gun at home and is limited to where he or she can transport it. That rule is now being challenged in the high court. Zoe Slemmons/NY1).
The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City's prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.
Lower courts have previously sided with the city, but the Supreme Court said it would take the case this fall.
What this means:
Under the city's rule, anyone with a "premises license" for a handgun must keep the gun at home and can basically only transport it to an authorized gun range within the city limits. The plaintiffs said, in part, some city gun owners have been getting arrested if they take their handguns to gun ranges outside the five boroughs.
The court's decision to hear the appeal could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court, one perhaps more willing to take on a gun rights case now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired and been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
NEW YORK LAWMAKERS PASS DREAM ACT FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS
(State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, center, speaks at a news conference about the DREAM Act on Wednesday with Evelyn Peralta, to the left of Heastie. Evelyn Peralta is the widow of former State Sen. Jose Peralta, who was the sponsor of the bill. Zack Fink/NY1).
New York state lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend state financial aid to students brought into the country illegally as children.
What this means for "Dreamers":
The so-called Dream Act will ensure that New York children will have the same access to state loans and grants no matter their legal status as American citizens. To be eligible, a person must have a New York high school diploma or the equivalent or meet the requirements for in-state tuition.
IT'S OFFICIAL: EARLY VOTING IS COMING TO NEW YORK
(Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and actor Ben Stiller shake hands after the governor signed a bill into law to allow for early voting Thursday. The bill will allow New Yorkers to cast a ballot before Election Day in a bid to improve its low voter turnout rates. Stiller had lobbied for the new law. Mark Lennihan/AP).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on changes to New York's election laws Thursday that are designed to make it easier to vote. The state Senate and Assembly passed the legislation 10 days earlier.
What are the new laws, and what will they do?
The new regulations include:
- Early voting — voters can cast ballots 10 days prior to Election Day.
- A unified primary day — the September state primary date will be eliminated and instead be held the same day as the June federal primary.
- Closing of the LLC Loophole — this would limit corporations' ability to open Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and make virtually unlimited political campaign contributions.
Advocates — and plenty of voters frustrated each year — have demanded significant reform to New York's previously antiquated set of voting laws, pointing to chaos that can ensue at polling sites. Supporters say early voting will increase turnout and reduce lines on Election Day. New York was among the worst 10 states for turnout in both the 2016 and 2018 elections, continuing a long trend of lower-than-average voter participation.
NYC SAYS IT WILL CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL PARKING IN BUS LANES
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the NYPD will begin to crack down on vehicles illegally parked in bus lanes. Back in 2012, the NYPD issued 7,756 summonses for bus lane violations. But enforcement plummeted, and in 2017 there were only 2,020 tickets written.
The mayor says he is trying to turn things around by having seven new police tow truck teams fan out across the city to ensure bus lanes are kept clear for buses.
The city may have to crack down on itself, because some of the worst offenders are city workers, or people with official or official-looking parking placards, parking in bus lanes. The anonymous "Placard Corruption" Twitter account posted a photo of a car with a placard blocking a bike lane that it said was taken after the mayor's news conference about the illegal parking in bus lanes.
CUOMO APPEARS TO GET ANOTHER MTA WIN — THIS TIME ON FARE HIKES
(After months of public hearings, the MTA Board decided to delay a vote on proposed fare and toll hikes, not long after the governor came out against them).
In an unexpected move Thursday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board members motioned to delay a vote on proposed fare and toll hikes to consider other options before they take up the issue again at their meeting in February — a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he did not support the fare increase, and called for more reform at the MTA.
Recapping the governor's recent apparent sway over the MTA:
Less than 24 hours after Cuomo said he did not support the fare hike, one of his appointees to the board was floating a new proposal: Tying a fare hike to improvements in service.
The board suddenly said it needed more time to consider how to move forward. Not surprisingly, it was a move Cuomo supported later in the day.
Acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer said that he didn't hear from Cuomo's staff about delaying the vote, but the delay Thursday was the second time in the past month that Cuomo appeared to get his way with the MTA.
The MTA is poised to move forward with the governor's new plan for L train repairs which would avoid a long-planned full-scale shutdown of service between Brooklyn and Manhattan. A source at the MTA told NY1 last week that the MTA Board was no longer expected to have to approve the new L train plan. Cuomo had requested an emergency meeting of the MTA Board so his new L train plan could move forward, but when he originally announced his plan three weeks ago he seemed to indicate he could sidestep MTA Board approval for the new plan.
CUOMO SIGNS LAW BANNING TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION IN NEW YORK
(The governor continued his bill-signing blitz Friday, signing legislation lawmakers passed 10 days ago to make it illegal to discriminate against transgender and non-binary New Yorkers. Zack Fink/NY1).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in the West Village on Friday to sign legislation known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which bans discrimination against transgender and non-binary New Yorkers.
What does the law do?
The anti-discrimination bill adds gender identity and gender expression to the existing law banning discrimination based on gender, age, religion, race or sexual orientation.
In addition to GENDA, the governor also signed a bill prohibiting conversion therapy for minors, in which a therapist tries to change a young person's sexual orientation.
A few years ago, Cuomo signed an executive order that banned discrimination against transgender New Yorkers covered. But advocates have been saying to make those protections permanent, it needs to be done legislatively and signed into law. That happened Friday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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