Women's Equality Act

Greg Cotterill / WEOS Geneva

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making women’s rights a pillar of his campaign and is focusing on an abortion rights provision. The issue serves multiple purposes for the governor.

Twice now, Cuomo has boarded a bus with his running mate Kathy Hochul, and several other leading female politicians, and rode to rallies for women's equality upstate and in New York City and Long Island.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his democratic running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, and other women’s rights advocates spoke to a cheering crowd of union members and local elected officials as part of an upstate bus tour to promote a 10-point women’s rights plan.

Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act failed in the state Senate, when neither party could muster enough votes for an abortion rights provision. Now Cuomo and Hochul are making it a campaign issue.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is creating another ballot line for the November elections -- the Women’s Equality line.

Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s running mate, lieutenant governor candidate and former western New York congresswoman, announced the formation of the new ballot line at a press conference with women supporters near a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“It’s time we organized our own movement led by our own political party,” Hochul told the cheering crowd.

Democrats and their allies in the legislature say there’s little chance anything major can be accomplished in the remaining days of the legislative session. Those pushing a Women’s Equality Act are already looking ahead to the fall campaigns as the next step.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is downplaying expectations for any major agreements in the final days of the legislative session.

“We have some clean up items,” Cuomo said. “I don’t expect us to do any major initiatives.”

As the end of the state legislative session in Albany gets closer, one issue that hasn’t made many strides yet, for the second year in a row, is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed ten-point Women’s Equality Act, meant to end discrimination based on gender.

In a swing across Central New York today, Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, says it’s important that New York is be a leader by passing the agenda that ranges from health care to economic issues, because states are where women’s issues are languishing.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Now that the major political party conventions are over, state officials are shifting their focus back to the remaining issues in the legislative session, which ends in four weeks. But politics are still front and center in the session's waning days.

The spotlight will continue to be on Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the final weeks of the session, and whether he achieves the three major items he laid out in his acceptance speech to delegates at the party convention.

“We must pass a Women’s Equality Act, public finance, and a Dream Act,” Cuomo told a cheering crowd. “And we will!”

-JvL- / Flickr

There’s about two months left in the legislative session and a number of issues are still left on the agenda. But it’s uncertain how many of them will actually become law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s failed to achieve a number of progressive items over the last two years, including public campaign finance reform and a Women’s Equality Act, told the Democratic Rural Conference that he’ll try to get them passed in the state legislature in the next eight weeks, before the session ends in June.

Now that the state budget is in place, lawmakers can turn their attention to more controversial end-of-session issues. That means a return to one of the more contentious items that failed at the end of last year’s session; the Women’s Equality Agenda.

The Women’s Equality Agenda is a ten-point plan that deals with several women’s issues, including a call for equal pay, the end of sexual harassment in workplaces and the strengthening of human sex trafficking laws.

Zack Seward / WXXI

All 213 members of the state legislature are facing re-election later this year, as is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But Cuomo also has the challenge of balancing competing interests as he tries to win another term by a big margin.

Wallyg / Flickr

A coalition of women’s groups is relaunching the Women’s Equality Act, which failed in the legislature earlier this year, with a new strategy that they say could help them win passage in 2014.

The Women’s Equality Act coalition has a new website and are organizing through social media. It's also produced a video using humor to connect with supporters.

A political controversy involving the issue of abortion has erupted this summer at the state’s ethics commission. It stems from whether some not for profit groups should be granted exemptions from publicly disclosing their donors. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, is charged with increasing financial transparency when it comes to politicians and the groups who lobby them.

nysenate.gov

Syracuse-area state Senator Dave Valesky says the bipartisan coalition that governs the New York Senate was successful this year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not get all he wanted during the recently concluded legislative session, as abortion rights and campaign finance reform faltered in the final days of the session. But, Cuomo seems to be putting the best face on what he did achieve and is trying to move on with plans that include an investigation of the legislature.

Cuomo began the session in January with a hefty agenda, including an ambitious plan to make New York’s gun control laws the toughest in the nation; and be the first state to react to the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December.

The state legislature left Albany last week with some unfinished business. They did not agree on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, and Cuomo says at least one house should return to pass some of the bill’s provisions.

In the final days of the session, the numbers nine and 10 became key points of discussion for Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act. That referred to the debate over whether to pass all 10 or just nine provisions in Cuomo’s proposed legislation.

The effort to pass the Women's Equality Act raised long-standing conflicts over reproductive rights, and the increased regulation of various business practices.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher discusses the political and policy issues raised by the legislative package with Betty DeFazio from Planned Parenthood of Syracuse and Rochester, and New York State Assemblyman Al Stirpe.

Wallyg / via Flickr

State lawmakers were finishing up their session for the year, working to approve a measure to build four gambling casinos upstate and create tax free zones at college campuses.

But the final hours of the session were overshadowed by back and forth skirmishing over a Women’s Equality Act, which ultimately failed.

Women’s groups rallied outside the New York state Senate chamber, demanding a vote on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point women’s equality act -- that includes an abortion rights provision.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Deals have been reached between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders on siting new casinos and creating tax free zones at college campuses. But a bill on abortion rights was struggling, and reform measures appear dead for the session.

The agreement on casinos would allow four resort-style gambling centers; one in the Capital Region, one in the Southern Tier, and possibly two in the Catskills, if voters approve the change to the state’s constitution in the fall.

Nassau and Suffolk counties would be allowed to open more slot machines, under the terms of the bill.

Women’s groups say they have not given up on an abortion rights bill passing in the final days of the legislative session, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced the Women’s Equality Act as 10 separate bills.

Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, says women’s groups are asking Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos to bring the abortion rights measure to the floor as a stand alone bill. Brooks says Skelos pledged two years ago to allow what's known as a vote of conscience on social issues where senators are divided.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO

There were several arrests at the state Capitol Tuesday. Advocates took out their anger and frustration on the Cuomo administration and leaders of the state Senate, after it became clear that a progressive agenda that includes abortion rights and public campaign financing is likely dead for the legislative session.

Government reform groups are angry at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he is giving up too soon on an anti-corruption agenda that includes public financing of campaigns and greater prosecution powers for the state’s district attorneys.   
     

Women’s groups have agreed to amend abortion rights language in a women’s equality bill to clarify that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion will continue to be illegal in New York.

Several Republican senators said they couldn’t support a proposal to codify into New York state law the abortion rights afforded to women in the federal Roe v. Wade decision. They said they feared it would promote late term abortions, including partial birth abortion, which are currently illegal in the U.S.

It’s getting down to the wire for major pieces of legislation as the end of session approaches in Albany, including women’s rights and campaign finance reform. There are no agreements yet, but that’s not unusual in a government that operates on last-minute deals.

Durrie Lawrence / WRVO

A top Senate Republican says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s abortion rights provision in a women’s equality bill stands little chance of passage in the chamber.

Senate Finance Committee Chair John DeFrancisco, from Syracuse, is one of the leading members of the Senate GOP conference. He says it’s unlikely that his house will pass Governor Cuomo’s proposal to codify into New York law the abortion rights in the federal Roe v. Wade decision.

Women’s groups are putting pressure on the state Senate’s ruling coalition to take up Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, which includes  an abortion rights provision.

Greg Cotterill / WEOS Geneva

Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the spot where the women's rights movement was born to lobby for his proposed Women's Equality Agenda.

Cuomo, a Democrat, concentrated on the nine parts of the plan that attacks things like workplace discrimination and the pay inequity between men and woman, while protesters outside focused on the abortion portion of the plan.

The Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls is a noteworthy place in the history of the women's rights movement, and it was here the governor won a standing ovation from the women's groups supporting his agenda.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is finally releasing legislation for his 10-point women’s agenda. It includes a provision to codify the abortion rights in the federal Roe v. Wade decision into New York state law. The governor says he’s been offered no assurances that it will pass the legislature.

Hundreds of women from a long list of women’s groups came to the Capitol for rally featuring actor Cynthia Nixon, among others. The governor’s plan includes a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment, equal pay provisions, and greater protections for victims of domestic violence and women forced into sex trafficking.

Audio Pending...

There’s three weeks to go in the legislative session, and advocates are pushing hard for two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agenda items -- translating the federal abortion rights in the Roe v. Wade decision into New York state law, and enacting public financing of statewide political campaigns.

The governor, meanwhile, is focusing on his proposal to bring tax free zones to upstate public college campuses.

Advocates for public financing of campaigns and advocates of abortion rights are entering the final push for passage of the measures, and are using a variety of tactics to spur action in the state Senate.

The steady drumbeat of scandal after scandal in the New York State Legislature has led many to wonder whether lawmakers can focus on passing any major bills by the end of the session, which is fast approaching.

The legislature returns Wednesday and has just four work weeks to act on items ranging from campaign finance reform to abortion rights, to economic development plans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, before the legislature even returned from its Memorial Day break, gathered local government leaders from across the state to ask for help in passing a plan to create tax free zones for new businesses at college campuses.

One day after the state’s powerful Assembly speaker admitted “glaring failures” in his handling of a sexual abuse case, the Albany establishment seemed to be moving on, with the usual round of press conferences, bill passage, and leaders meetings.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Supporters of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point Women's Equality Act are ramping up efforts to get support for the proposed legislation. The  Women's Equality Coalition just launched a statewide television ad to raise awareness about the agenda, and supporters in one small central New York County are also raising their voices.

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