New York passed major legislation this year, but Albany still hasn’t changed
Climate change, immigration, sexual harassment, rent laws – those are just a handful of the many issues Albany tackled while in session this year. What’s one reform missing from that list? Changing the way Albany works. The New York State Legislature pushed through some major legislation these past months, but midnight hearings, backroom deals and four-figure fundraisers are still our Capitol’s modus operandi.
Here’s what happened in the state:
- On Friday, the Fair Elections for New York coalition said in a statement that the newly-elected Albany legislators have made an impact by passing public policies that support women’s rights, immigrant rights, tenant rights, and climate justice, but elections still need to be fairer to make a real difference. The coalition, of which RepresentUs is a member, calls for the passage for public matching. Legislators agreed to convene a commission to decide on a public matching system, but after two months, none of the commission members have been named. You can call Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders and ask them to seat the commission by clicking here.
- When asked about the recent tenant rights legislation passed into law on June 14, Gov. Cuomo suggested it’s proof that there’s no link between donors and political outcomes. Some fear that the reforms will be weaponized as an argument against anti-corruption efforts. “There’s no need for campaign finance reform! Just look at all this legislation we’ve passed!” Reminder: There are mountains of evidence that big donors impact political decisions.
- The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) released an updated report listing 21 Albany fundraisers being held to benefit state lawmakers and committees in the last month of the legislative session. Many events were held right across the street from the state capitol, with ticket prices ranging from $150 to $5,000, meaning that lobbyists are paying lawmakers for conversations about the very last pieces of legislation that will be voted on. The fear, of course, is that this gives said lobbyists undue influence over the bills. Assemblymember Sandy Galef has sponsored a bill to prohibit fundraisers within 15 miles of the Capitol during session, but the legislation has gained little traction.
And here’s what happening in the city:
- On Wednesday, the City Council’s Committee on Governmental
a hearing for three campaign finance reform bills. If all
three bills were to pass…
- candidates previously convicted of corruption-related offenses would be barred from receiving public matching funds
- donations as low as $5 could be matched 8-to-1 by the city (currently you must donate at least $10)
- people seeking land use approvals (AKA large real estate businesses) would have more limitations on when they can make campaign contributions.
- Our chapter will soon be trying to find cosponsors for the second bill – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved.
MORE WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
- SMARTelections.us launched a three-part documentary series about new ballot scanners in New York and how their vulnerabilities might allow for hacking that could swing the vote. Visit their website to watch and find ways to become part of the campaign.
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