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Friday, September 19, 2014
Albany's unfinished business, Part II

Last week we highlighted some of the work we think the New York Senate and Assembly have left incomplete as they head toward the end of this legislative session on June 19.

We said that legislative action on corruption in state government and campaign financing hasn’t gone far enough. We urged stronger, broader reforms.

As critical to public confidence in good, clean government as these issues are, they aren’t the only matters left unfinished by the Senate and Assembly.

Women’s equality

On the Women’s Equality Act, there is agreement between the Democratically controlled Assembly and the GOP-Democrat jointly led Senate on nine sections of a 10-part package of laws designed to end gender-based inequities in pay, sexual harassment, orders of protection and human trafficking.

The single provision holding up passage is on reproductive health. Rather than dropping it and getting all else passed, pro-choice advocates demand a no-compromise, all-or-nothing passage of the package. That isn’t going to happen. Pro-life advocates who oppose that part say federal law already provides for what it would cover, and they would never support what they see as an expansion of abortion services. A refusal to drop that highly controversial section — at least for now — so the rest can become law seems like a sacrifice of the good by a demand for what only some believe is the perfect, and many believe is anathema.

We urge progress on women’s equality by passing what can be passed and revisiting the most controversial part separately.

School mandate relief

For years, school district officials have clamored for relief from unfunded mandates, and for good reason. Mandates hamper districts in the era of the tax cap and take money away from educational programs. There are steps that the Legislature could take to provide relief to school districts. For one, it could amend the Wicks Law to allow districts to hire one contractor for construction projects instead of separate ones for general construction, electrical, HVAC and plumbing. Assemblyman Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and others support rewriting the Wicks Law, and so do we.

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