Empire Justice Center 2017 State Administrative Priorities

Kristin Brown, Eòghann Renfroe April 28, 2017

Promoting Strength, Protecting Justice

As New Yorkers, we unite around the concepts of liberty, equality and opportunity.  Now we face the most significant shift in policy perspective at the federal level that’s been seen in a generation, but opportunities for New York to uphold our shared values are everywhere.  In 2017, Empire Justice Center’s top priorities will be focused on identifying and fostering ways to strengthen New York’s laws, our communities, and each other, to protect justice for ALL New Yorkers.


Everyone should be able to communicate with their government effectively.  Executive Order 26 requires executive agencies to develop and implement language access policies and provides a good framework for ensuring that this happens.  New York must continue to work to implement this Executive Order to ensure that all government agencies provide meaningful language access in all essential areas.  Empire Justice will work with the Executive to continue to inform and advocate for effective and comprehensive implementation of Executive Order 26.

Department of Health:

Having strong, efficient and fair health care insurance options, such as the Marketplace, expanded Medicaid and the Essential Plan have been a win-win-win for New York and for New York consumers.  The state must continue to work with advocates to advance the strongest possible consumer protections, monitor and react proactively to Federal level developments, and ensure the huge wins in the number of New Yorkers who have been able to access health insurance are retained moving forward.  Empire Justice will continue to work with the Department of Health through issue spotting, educating and working collaboratively on improvements and innovative approaches to meet consumer needs.

New Yorkers in need of home care are finding it increasingly difficult to secure aides to provide this care due to a growing aide shortage.  Relatedly, many home care workers are encountering low pay, wage theft, irregular working hours and other obstacles that are turning workers away from the industry and contributing to the shortage.  (See Empire Justice Budget Priorities.)  New York must develop and implement short and long term solutions to the aide shortage that address both the needs of home care recipients and of home care workers.  Empire Justice Center will continue to educate and inform decision makers about these complex challenges with a goal of working toward a solution.

The Essential Plan is an important component of New York’s health care system that will provide affordable health coverage for people who are caught in the gap between not being eligible for Medicaid and not being able to afford private insurance through the New York State of Health Marketplace, despite subsidies.  As the Essential Plan continues to be implemented, New York must make certain that it includes adequate consumer protections and that special populations retain previous rights and coverage.  Empire Justice Center will work to provide recommendations to strengthen and improve these rights and protections.

Transgender New Yorkers must have access to medically necessary health care, including transition-related care, but many insurance providers continue to hold gratuitous obstacles in place that impede access to care.  The state must continue to work with advocates to remove obstacles to care from commercial insurance plans.  Empire Justice Center will work to break down those barriers with a goal of expanding access to quality care.

Office of Children and Family Services:

New York must ensure that special needs children are being adequately served under the law.  To do so, the state must revise its child care special needs policies and integrate special needs programs that are administered by multiple agencies.  Empire Justice Center will continue its work to inform the revision of these policies in a way that supports the families of children with special needs.

New York State Education Department:

The guidelines for transgender and gender non-conforming students released by the New York State Education Department in 2015 have been extremely successful in creating safer, more equitable school environments for all students, regardless of gender identity or expression. However, implementation of these guidelines has been variable across the state, meaning too many students are still being left behind.  New York must ensure that every student has access to an equal opportunity at education by working towards comprehensive implementation of these guidelines.  Empire Justice Center will work with NYSED to strengthen the guidelines and ensure proper implementation across the state.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance:

The practices used to accuse low income New Yorkers receiving public assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance or child care, or who receive Federal Social Security benefits through the State Supplement Program, of fraud must include basic due process protections, including advance and written notice describing the charges against them, notification of their legal rights and time to consult with an attorney.  Empire Justice Center will continue to advocate for statewide reforms to this process.

For more information:
Kristin Brown
(518) 852-5766

Eòghann Renfroe
(518) 935-2856