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

New York Families Action’s Weekly Wrap-Up provides an update on the week on legislative and political developments in New York during the week ending May 24, 2024. This week’s Wrap-Up discusses a range of issues that matter to Christians, including abortion, sexual orientation, gender identity, assisted suicide, marijuana, and sex crimes.

May 20, 2024

Legislative Update

On May 20, the New York State Senate passed two bills of significance. New York Families Action supports one of these bills and opposes the other.

Bill S.1965-A-Addabbo/A.3865-A-Gunther passed the Senate by a 59-0 vote. This bill would require health insurance companies to cover prenatal vitamins for pregnant mothers if prescribed by their respective medical providers. New York Families encourages the Assembly to pass this pro-family bill as well and urges Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign it into law.

By a 46-13 vote, the Senate passed Bill S.1110-A-Comrie/A.9898-Simone. This misguided bill would allow the use of an “X” gender marker upon request in documents created by state agencies, public authorities, and municipalities. Due to the passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2022, New Yorkers confused about their gender identities can already have their driver licenses marked “X” rather than “M” or “F”; this bill would allow more legal documents to contain gender-related falsehoods.

Sadly, the State Senate passed this bill with a bipartisan majority; 40 Democrats and six Republicans supported it, while 13 Republicans voted against it. This bill should be rejected by the Assembly.

May 21, 2024

New York Court of Appeals Goes Wrong on Abortion Insurance Mandate

The twin causes of life and religious liberty suffered a loss in New York’s highest court today.

In Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany v. Vullo, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the state’s requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies include coverage for abortion. This requirement was implemented by executive action in 2017 and was codified into law in 2022. It was challenged in court because its religious exemption was too narrow and did not adequately protect faith-based charities. The plaintiffs intend to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.

To add insult to injury (literally), Gov. Kathy Hochul made these remarks following the court’s decision: “‘While right-wing extremists attempt to undermine our fundamental freedoms, New York will continue standing strong to protect women’s health care and safeguard abortion rights… As Governor, I’m committed to ensuring New York continues to be a safe harbor for anyone who needs abortion care.’”

Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New York Families Action, responded: “It is bad enough that the state has imposed an abortion insurance mandate on employers. It is even worse that the state has required faith-based charities to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs by paying for abortion-related insurance. Sadly, both Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James are determined to use government power to impose their pro-abortion fanaticism on the entire state of New York. New Yorkers who value life and freedom are left to hope that the Supreme Court will uphold religious liberty by striking down this mandate.”

Legislative Update

Today, the Assembly Economic Development Committee missed an opportunity to approve a common-sense bill that would mitigate one of the many negative consequences of recreational marijuana legalization. Bill S.7604-Borrello/A.7612-Novakhov, which would have banned public marijuana use except in spaces designated for marijuana use by a local government, was defeated by a vote of 16-8. The vote was a party-line vote, with 16 Democrats opposing the bill and eight Republicans supporting it.

May 22, 2024

New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide Demonstrates at Capitol Again

Today, participants in the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide (NYAAAS) visited the New York State Capitol. The NYAAAS held productive discussions about the assisted suicide issue with multiple legislators and attended the week’s Assembly Health Committee meeting.

For their part, persons affiliated with Compassion and Choices—one of the organizations that has pushed for assisted suicide in New York for nearly a decade—protested the Legislature’s inaction on the issue by chanting outside the Assembly Health Committee meeting and later causing a disruption in the Assembly chamber before being escorted out.

The pro-suicide group’s actions appear to have backfired. At least one legislator, Asm. Joe Angelino, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to voice his displeasure with the approach, while others who had been leaning in support of state-sanctioned suicide indicated that they may be reconsidering their votes following the disruption in the Assembly chamber.

The legislative session is scheduled to end on June 6. As the end of session approaches, the NYAAAS intends to continue making our presence felt in Albany. The NYAAAS is scheduled to hold Albany demonstrations Wednesday, May 29 and Tuesday, June 4. For more information, or to sign up to join the demonstration, please contact Stephen Hayford.

Legislative Update

In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). Under the guise of nondiscrimination, this anti-bullying law mandated that public schools accommodate their students’ sexual orientations and gender identities. Now, pro-LGBT lawmakers want to impose these same mandates upon Christian schools and other nonpublic schools.

On May 17, 2024, a completely revised version of the Assembly’s DASA for Nonpublic Schools Bill was released. Today, Bill A.1829-A-Jean-Pierre—now named the Nonpublic School Students Act—was approved by the Assembly Education Committee by a party-line vote of 21-8. New York Families Action released a revised memorandum of opposition in advance of the committee vote. The bill will now move to the Assembly Codes Committee for further consideration. New York Families strongly opposes this legislation, which is an existential threat to Christian schools.

Also, the Senate passed Bill S.9276-Gianaris/A.4992-A-Paulin today by a 55-4 vote. The bill, which relates to evidence of prior sex offenses in sex crimes cases, was passed in response to the New York Court of Appeals’ recent decision to overturn the rape conviction of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. According to the Associated Press, “the bill would make clear that evidence of previous sexual offenses can be heard in sex crimes cases, even if those prior allegations are not directly part of the underlying criminal charges. The proposal would also give judges discretion to not allow such testimony if it would create ‘undue prejudice’ against a defendant.” Supporters of the bill assert that its language protects the rights of victims and is similar to other states’ laws, while opponents contend that it is too broad and could lead to unjust convictions. The bill’s fate in the Assembly is uncertain.