It’s A Wrap: Week Nineteen Of The Legislative Session

This week’s Weekly Wrap-up from New York Families Action covers the State Legislature’s first week back in Albany following its post-budget its spring break. The 2024 regular legislative session is scheduled to conclude on Thursday, June 6. New York Families Action is hard at work monitoring proposed legislation and advocating for Biblically-based Christian principles in Albany as we enter the home stretch of the legislative session.

May 6, 2024

Zeldin, Gaines Headline Albany Rally Against So-Called Equal Rights Amendment

Former U.S. Representative and 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin appeared at a rally in Albany against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution. Former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines, who has become a nationwide defender of girls’ and women’s sports, also spoke at the rally. The Equal Rights Amendment would ban discrimination based on “sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” The amendment is disrespectful of human life, dismissive of religious liberty, and protective of the confused mindset known as transgenderism. As such, it is objectionable from a Christian perspective.

Rep. Zeldin, who now leads Leadership America Needs PAC, commented, “‘I personally don’t believe that we should have…boys competing against girls in our group sports.’” Gaines added, “‘There is a coordinated effort to destroy girls’ sports and attack the rights of women, the rights of parents and the safeguarding of children.’” Rep. Zeldin and Riley Gaines are correct about this dangerous amendment. Girls and young women should be free to play interscholastic sports and use school locker rooms without being subjected to the inappropriate presence of males, regardless of how those males may feel about their gender identities.

Legislative Update

Today, committees of the New York State Senate advanced two misguided bills and defeated a bill that would have made New York a better place.

The Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee voted 5-1 to advance Bill S.3415-Myrie, which would bar colleges and universities from asking applicants about past arrests or convictions. Given the appalling disregard for the law and for the rights of others that have been displayed by pro-Palestinian demonstrators at various New York college campuses in recent weeks, it is difficult to conceive of a more ill-timed and politically tone-deaf bill than this one. Colleges and universities have a responsibility to ascertain whether the students they admit will behave like law-abiding citizens. They cannot fulfill this responsibility if they cannot gain access to truthful and complete information about applicants’ criminal records. The advancement of this absurd bill is just the latest of many instances in which some liberal politicians have shown more concern for persons who commit crimes than they have shown for the law-abiding New Yorkers whose lives are adversely affected by criminal behavior. This mindset is exactly backwards. Romans 13:3-4 says: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Also, the Senate Health Committee voted by an astonishing margin of 14-1 to approve Bill S.4880-B-Fernandez/A.7487-A-Kelles. This bill would create a program to allow drug users to have drugs tested for contaminants. As a Christian organization, New York Families stands for the sanctity of human life—including the lives of persons suffering from drug addiction. Despite our compassion for such persons, however, we are constrained to oppose this bill. While it is well-intentioned, the bill enables drug users to continue using drugs instead of directing them toward life-saving rehabilitation programs. The legislature has moved to third reading in the Senate and could be voted on at any time.

Unfortunately, the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee defeated Bill S.7604-Borrello/A.7612-Novakhov, 4-1. This common-sense legislation would ban the use of marijuana in public places unless those public places have been designated for marijuana use by a municipality. As the bill accurately states, “Smoking cannabis in public places can be disruptive and harmful to non-smokers.” Since New York legalized recreational marijuana in 2021, non-marijuana users across New York have been subjected to unpleasant waves of marijuana smoke in a variety of locations. This bill would have helped to solve that problem and would have displayed a basic level of respect and consideration for New Yorkers who do not use recreational drugs.

New York State Board of Regents Proposes Gender-Neutral Sports Rule

Last year, the New York State Board of Regents created two “guidance” documents that demonstrated their allegiance to leftist ideology. One of those documents related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, while the other related to gender identity. This year, the Regents are up to more of the same; they have proposed a new regulation that would make interscholastic sports gender-neutral. According to the New York Post, the regulation would allow students who identify as “transgender” to compete on the sports teams of either sex. Like the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, the proposed regulation is unfair to girls. New York Families Action intends to submit a public comment in opposition to it.

May 7, 2024

Rep. Tim Kennedy Sworn in as New Member of U.S. House of Representatives

Today, Rep. Tim Kennedy (D-NY26) was sworn in as the newest member of New York’s congressional delegation. Following the retirement of former Rep. Brian Higgins in New York’s 26th congressional district, Rep. Kennedy defeated Republican candidate Gary Dickson in an April 30 special congressional election. A Buffalo native, Rep. Kennedy previously served in the New York State Senate from 2011 to 2024. Rep. Kennedy’s Senate service was marred by a massive abortion flip-flop; after running for State Senate as a pro-life Democrat in 2010, he announced in 2014 that his position had “evolved.” He later voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Act, New York’s notorious late-term abortion expansion law. Rep. Kennedy also faces an ethics complaint which alleges that he unlawfully used funds from his state campaign account for his congressional race.

Legislative Update

Today, State Senate committees approved two anti-life bills and one ill-advised drug-related bill; also, a State Senate committee defeated a good government measure.

The Senate Women’s Issues Committee approved Bill S.7152-Parker by a shameful 5-0 vote. This anti-life bill would require the state to create “a statewide emergency contraception college education and awareness program.” The bill will now move to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration. Meanwhile, by an 8-1 vote, the Senate Higher Education Committee approved Bill S.4400-B-Webb/A.4091-A-Gonzalez-Rojas and referred it to the Senate Finance Committee. This bill would require New York’s public college and university campuses to make emergency contraception available for sale in vending machines on campus. Emergency contraception pills sometimes act as abortion-causing drugs by preventing an embryo from implanting in the wall of a woman’s uterus. New York Families Action is disappointed with the Senate Democrats who voted for these two anti-life bills, but we are even more disappointed with the Senate Republicans who declined to oppose it.

In addition, the Senate Health Committee voted 7-6 to approve the Safer Consumption Services Pilot Program Act, which would create a pilot program to oversee so-called safe injection sites for drug users. Because such programs violate federal law and are not geared toward getting drug users off drugs, New York Families opposes them. This bill will now move to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration. New York Families thanks the six Republican senators that voted against this ill-advised bill.

Bill S.1309-Ortt/A.9334-Barclay was voted down, 11-7, by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill was a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed recall elections for district attorneys. Such elections are sometimes needed in jurisdictions where well-funded far-left district attorneys refuse to enforce laws that do not mesh with their political views. New York Families thanks the five Republicans and two Democrats who supported this common-sense amendment.

May 8, 2024

Attempt to Oust U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson Fails

Today, an attempt to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA4) from his leadership role in the U.S. House of Representatives failed by a wide bipartisan margin.

Disgruntled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA14) filed a motion to vacate in an effort to oust Speaker Johnson. As many readers may recall, a similar motion was filed against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall; that motion succeeded in removing Speaker McCarthy from his position and led to weeks’ worth of chaos as House Republicans struggled to select a successor. This time, the outcome was different, as members of both parties came to Speaker Johnson’s defense. The motion to vacate was tabled by a vote of 359-43. Speaker Johnson commented: “‘In this moment this country desperately needs a functioning Congress. And that’s what an overwhelming majority of the Republican members of this body chose today.’”

State Senator Announces NYC Mayoral Bid

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) announced that he was “‘taking the first steps to explore’” a bid for mayor of New York City in 2025. A progressive attorney, Sen. Myrie has represented New York’s 20th Senate District since 2019. Sen. Myrie is known for being the prime sponsor of the Clean Slate Act, a dishonest and ill-advised criminal justice measure that became law in 2023. The Senator also supports ending qualified immunity for police officers. If Sen. Myrie moves forward with a Democratic primary challenge against Mayor Eric Adams, he will be primarying Mayor Adams from the far left. For his part, Mayor Adams’s record is that of a moderate-leaning liberal Democrat who supports law enforcement and speaks favorably of religious faith. Democratic former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is also considering a 2025 mayoral bid.

Cancel Culture Is Alive and Well

A Manhattan community board member has been ousted after supporting a controversial resolution to have the city Department of Education review whether there should be a ban on transgender girls in school sports.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine refused to reappoint Craig Slutzkin to Community Board 5, which covers parts of the West Side and Midtown, where he had served since 2013.

May 10, 2024

Long Island Executive Order Protecting Women’s Sports Overturned in Court

“Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s February executive order barring males from competing in girls’ sports or women’s sports on county-owned property was overturned by a trial court judge. Judge Francis Ricigliano held that County Executive Blakeman exceeded his authority in issuing the order.”