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State Assembly starts legislative session with majority ready to push ‘progressive’ agenda

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 January 2019 at 6:38 pm

Photo from NYS Assembly Majority: Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo today is welcomed as the Assembly’s new majority leader, succeeding Joe Morelle of Rochester who left the Assembly after being elected to Congress following the death of Louise Slaughter. As majority leader, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the Assembly chamber.

The State Assembly kicked off a new legislative session today, and Speaker Carl Heastie said he is eager to get going now that the State Senate is Democrat-controlled. Heastie said many proposals championed in the Assembly have been stalled in the Senate under Republican control.

“At times, we have had to fight tough battles to keep New York from falling behind,” Heastie said in a statement today. “In 2017, our loud voices helped correct an injustice facing our youth by raising the age of adult criminal responsibility – just one of the many criminal justice reforms we have passed numerous times.

“Year after year, we fought tooth and nail for each of these victories, and still countless pieces of progressive legislation were stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But this past November, voters gave Democrats their largest majority in the State Senate in a century. They too want to move New York forward.

“With our new partners in the Senate, we will take swift action to deliver the progressive legislation we have long sought for New York families.”

Heastie said he wants to push to enshrine the Reproductive Health Act into law, along with other measures to protect women’s reproductive health.

“Together, we will once and for all deliver comprehensive criminal justice reform to establish a more equitable system for all New Yorkers,” he said.

He will push for measures to ensure a speedy trial, reform our bail system, and end the use of solitary confinement.

“We must break down barriers to higher education by passing the New York State DREAM Act to ensure our immigrant youth have access to the resources they need to make meaningful contributions to our state,” he said.

He favors other legislation to protect transgender rights, expand voter access, give more legal protections to child sexual abuse victims, and protect the future of the state through “The Climate and Community Protection Act.”

“Together, we must find common sense solutions to protect New Yorkers from gun violence,” Heastie said. “We must address equitable funding for our neediest schools, and continue to ensure higher education is affordable for all New Yorkers.”

Heastie also said the Assembly will work for the good of the entire state.

“We will not forget that our upstate communities need economic development and job creation,” he said.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) represents a district that includes most of Orleans, part of western Monroe and all of Genesee counties.

“It is an honor and privilege to be back in Albany continuing the work we have done to reform our charitable gaming laws, meet upstate’s infrastructure needs, protect our vets, fully fund the Lake Ontario flood recovery efforts and empower small businesses,” Hawley said in a statement. “New York City politicians now control all three policy-making wings in Albany and I pledge to stand strong against any further tax increases, handouts to illegal aliens and big government expansion that has sent millions of our neighbors packing for greener pastures.

“New York is at a crossroads and it’s time that upstate flex its muscle at the table. Hardworking, middle-class families deserve a voice too and I will fight to make sure we are heard loud and clear.”

Michael Norris (R-Lockport) is a member of the Assembly whose district include the Town of Shelby in Orleans, and parts of Niagara and Erie counties, said in a Facebook message the Legislature and governor need to reduce state spending and property taxes, to stop the out-migration of people from New York.

“I am so proud to be back at the state Capitol representing you for the 2019 Legislative Session!” Norris said on Facebook. “There is a lot of work ahead in this new more progressive Albany but I am determined to make sure Western New York’s voice is heard loud and clear.”

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