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Policy Matters – June 2018
June brought the end of a lackluster state legislative session and continued negative policy shifts at the federal level, but also some reminders of community coming together – whether by pitching in to paint fences and clean up vacant lots, or by publicly standing together for what is right. Find out more in this June edition of Policy Matters.
State Legislative Session Ends
Although the state legislative session offered many opportunities for New York State to enact stronger laws to protect New Yorkers, particularly from threats from federal level policy changes, the last day of session closed with many of those opportunities left undone. To read about our take on the end of this year’s session, check out our statement here.
At the beginning of the month we joined policy makers and advocates in Albany and New York City, simultaneously speaking out about the importance of the Protect Our Courts Act here in New York State.
A few weeks later, on Long Island, our staff joined other activists and advocates on World Refugee Day for a rally outside Congressman Zeldin’s office to demand protections for immigrant women and children victims of violence.
Last week, Empire Justice Center released a statement strongly condemning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban.
And on June 30, Senior Paralegal Cheryl Keshner represented us at the Long Island Families Belong Together rally, one of hundreds of rallies held across the country protesting federal immigration policies which are separating children from parents, holding children in cages, and indefinitely detaining families seeking asylum.
In the wake of testimony we submitted last month on New York State’s draft Child Care Development Plan, we weighed in with a memo of support on several implementation bills – A.11242 (Jaffee)/S.8804-A Helming) and A.11055 (Jaffee) – all related to required criminal background checks. A.11055, which was passed by the Assembly, but not the Senate, is of particular importance as it includes due process protections and protections for immigrant families.
We also wrote this memo of support on A.0290 (Jaffee)/S.1455 (Avella), which focuses on determining the actual cost of quality child care by geographic region.
In early June, we joined our advocacy colleagues in participating in a press conference calling for passage of A.1408 (Weinstein)/S.6171 (Hamilton), with Senior Attorney Kirsten Keefe speaking about how the bill would help protect homeowners from deed theft. Kirsten was also a guest on the June 15 episode of WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, talking about the importance of this bill in addressing foreclosure and mortgage scams.
In Rochester, the Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Property Task Force released a series of policy recommendations to address neighborhood blight in the Rochester Area.
A few days later, our Staff Attorney, Fiona Wolfe, who is a co-chair of the Task Force, also helped to organize the annual SONYMA Neighborhood Spruce Up. Empire Justice Center and other community volunteers pitched in to powerwash, paint porches, repair railings, install glass block windows, perform landscaping tasks, clean out vacant lots and beautify the neighborhood around the Rochester Public Market!
In case you missed it:
Empire Justice Center was in the midst of federal turmoil this past month as our Senior Attorney, Ruhi Maker, was one of the consumer advocates who were summarily dismissed from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Consumer Advisory Board when it was abruptly disbanded by Acting Director Mick Mulvaney. Vox covered the story here, and WXXI followed up here.
And to end the month on a positive note, Empire Justice Center and Legal Services of Central New York scored a great victory for low income New Yorkers with an Appellate Court victory that overturned an archaic Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) rule that forced New Yorkers to choose between assistance they need and transportation for potential jobs (which folks also need!). You can find out more about the case and the decision here.
July is going to be a hot one, so stay cool and hydrated, and keep an eye out for our next edition at the end of the month!
The Empire Justice Policy Team