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

New York Families Action’s Weekly Wrap-Up covers the week ending May 17, 2024. The Wrap-Up includes updates on legislative activity in Albany, a major upcoming Democratic congressional primary, the proposed legalization of prostitution, and the ongoing battle against assisted suicide.

May 13, 2024

Democrats Debate in NY-16

In the closely-watched Democratic primary in New York’s 16th congressional district, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) and Westchester County Executive George Latimer (D-Rye) held their first debate.

A former middle school principal, Rep. Bowman, 49, has represented NY-16 since 2021. The congressman is a member of the Squad, a group of left-wing congressional Democrats. Rep. Bowman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was censured by the House of Representatives for causing a building evacuation by activating a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building in September 2023. At the time, House Democrats were attempting to delay a vote on the House floor. Politico has described Rep. Bowman as “a consistent Israel critic during much of his time in office” who “visited Columbia University’s campus last month in a show of solidarity with pro-Palestinian demonstrators.”

County Executive Latimer, 70, has served in his current position since 2018. His long career in elected office includes service on the Rye City Council, in the Westchester County Legislature, in the New York State Assembly, and in the New York State Senate. In the Legislature, Latimer amassed a liberal voting record. He is notable for having missed a series of State Senate budget votes in 2017 after going on an overseas vacation with a woman other than his wife. According to Politico, Latimer is “staunchly supportive” of Israel and visited Israel following the October 7 attacks to demonstrate his solidarity; however, he did call for a temporary humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas War earlier this spring.

The Bowman-Latimer race has national implications. It exposes a fault line within the Democratic Party between pro-Israel Democrats like Latimer (who tend to be liberal or moderate-leaning members of the Democratic establishment) and pro-Palestinian Democrats like Rep. Bowman (who tend to align with the far left). At the debate, Rep. Bowman called for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and for a leadership change in Israel. He also defended pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses. For his part, Latimer called for the release of hostages taken by Hamas and described the pro-Palestinian slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free” as anti-Semitic.

National Anthem Bill Advances

Bill S.1379-Felder, which would make it unlawful to require a permit for the singing of the national anthem or the reciting of the pledge of allegiance, was approved by a 6-0 vote in the Senate Cities Committee. New York Families Action opposes bureaucratic limitations on free speech, especially when that speech is patriotic in nature. We urge both houses of the Legislature to pass this common-sense bill.

May 14, 2024

New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide Holds Demonstration in Albany

Today, the New York State Alliance Against Assisted Suicide (NYAAAS) held the first of several Albany demonstrations it has scheduled during the waning weeks of the 2024 legislative session. New Yorkers from Buffalo, Long Island, and the Capital Region donned purple NYAAAS T-shirts and distributed literature throughout the Legislative Office Building. In the afternoon, equipped with signs, the volunteers held a peaceful demonstration on the third floor of the Capitol. The demonstration led to productive conversations with members of the Legislature and members of the media.

Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New York Families Action, remarked: “For any movement, visibility is key. The NYAAAS volunteers performed a valuable service with their principled and peaceful presence. The demonstration attracted legislators’ attention and reminded them that voters oppose the assisted suicide bill and care enough to come to the Capitol to say so.”

The NYAAAS is scheduled to hold Albany demonstrations on Wednesday, May 22; Wednesday, May 29; and Tuesday, June 4. Like-minded New Yorkers are cordially invited to join those activities. For more information, or to sign up, contact Stephen Hayford at Stephen@NYFamilyAction.org.

James Files Notice of Appeal in Equal Rights Amendment Case

Today, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a notice of appeal in Byrnes v. The Senate of the State of New York.

As New York Families previously noted, the trial court judge in the Byrnes litigation threw out the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution on the grounds that it violated Article XIX of the State Constitution. Prior to that trial court decision, the pro-abortion, pro-“transgender” amendment had been scheduled to be submitted to New York voters on Election Day 2024. Attorney General James will seek to persuade an appeals court that the trial court decision was incorrect. It is hoped that the appeals court will ignore political considerations, focus on the law, and uphold the trial court ruling.

Legislative Update

Today, the Assembly Codes Committee defeated Laken’s Law by a party-line vote of 14-7. Laken’s Law (Bill S.8533-Lanza/A.9167-Gandolfo) would require courts and law enforcement officials to inform the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) when a defendant or an arrestee is not a citizen of the United States. Laken’s Law would also repeal existing bans on certain types of immigration-related courthouse arrests. The bill is named for the late Laken Riley, a 22-year-old American woman who was killed in Athens, Georgia in February 2024. Riley’s accused killer is an illegal immigrant who had been arrested in Queens, New York, but was set free. New York Republicans contend that the state of New York’s policies of noncooperation with the federal government in immigration matters played a major role in Riley’s tragic death. Laken’s Law is a common-sense, law-and-order bill; it is unfortunate that Assembly Democrats defeated it.

Bill S.1965-A-Addabbo/A.3865-A-Gunther, which would mandate insurance coverage for prenatal vitamins, was approved by the State Senate Finance Committee in a 20-0 vote. NYFA supports this pro-family legislation.

May 15, 2024

Pro-Prostitution Group Rallies at Capitol

Christian New Yorkers should be aware that there is a movement to legalize prostitution in New York.

As a Christian organization, New York Families Action adamantly opposes the legalization of prostitution. Human sexuality is a God-given gift that is intimately connected with marriage and procreation (see Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4). Prostitution takes an act that is intended to express enduring love and commitment and reduces it to a commercial transaction between individuals who may be complete strangers. Prostitution harms families and communities and is physically and mentally unhealthy; men who have sexual relations with prostitutes degrade them and treat them as little more than objects. I Corinthians 6:15-18a reads as follows: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality.”

Today, a Capitol demonstration was held to push for Bill S.4396-Salazar/A.8605-A-Forrest, which would fully legalize prostitution and would cause records of past prostitution-related offenses to be expunged. Christians must work against this damaging bill before it gathers enough steam to be passed.

Legislative Update

Today, the State Senate Health Committee voted 15-0 to approve Bill S.1241-Sanders/A.5966-Cook. This pro-family measure would provide Medicaid recipients with the same amount of post-childbirth hospitalization coverage that moms with other types of health insurance receive. New York Families Action urges the Legislature to pass this legislation in 2024.

May 16, 2024

X Gender Marker

An article published today in the Albany Times Union offered a clear reminder of how confused our laws and our society have become about matters of gender identity.

According to the Times Union, since 2022, the state has issued more than 4,800 identification documents that contain an “X” gender marker rather than an “M” or an “F.” A wrong-headed 2021 law called the Gender Recognition Act allowed New Yorkers who do not self-identify as male or female to select this option. The Times Union added that one such document was issued to a New Yorker born in 2014—in other words, a child less than 11 years of age.

May God have mercy on the state of New York.

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