Legislative Alert – April 22nd, 2013

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President’s Message
IMPROVE BALLOT ACCESS

The various proposals for election reform have rightly brought the issue of fairness and restoration of trust in the electoral process to the forefront of the public’s mind. The integrity and openness of the process is integral to a democratic society.

The best way to restore the public’s faith in the process is to increase the dismal voter turnout—-in all elections.  As we consider the changes, it is critical that focus be provided on ballot access and increasing voter participation.  Two bills, universally supported by the labor movement, would do just that.

New York needs to finally pass legislation that will enable early voting.  A current bill, A689/S1461, would set up a process to allow a limited number of locations in every county where individuals could vote up to 14 days prior to a general election and 7 days prior to a primary election.  This will create flexibility, increase voter turnout and allow for adequate oversight of the process.

Also, New York must follow the successful lead of many other states and eliminate barriers to absentee voting and allow voters to vote by mail.  The NYS AFL-CIO strongly supports A2105/S2252, which would remove all of these barriers and open up current in-person and vote by mail absentee voting to all individuals.

The demanding requirements of work and family, transportation costs and limitations caused by health  issues, school, or other matters too often result in individuals not being able to vote in person due to these antiquated Election Law obstacles.  Campaign finance reforms, optional public financing or other procedural reforms will only have limited success unless we do all we can to remove barriers to voting and encourage all individuals who are eligible to vote, to do so.

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action
NEXT LABOR LOBBYISTS MEETING
Monday, April 29, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
100 South Swan St., Albany
Issue of the Week
S. 2378 Peralta/A. 2597 Moya
(New York DREAM Fund Commission)
This legislation creates the New York DREAM Fund Commission and extends opportunities for certain undocumented students to attend college.  It also expands State financial aid eligibility and provides greater access to the New York State 529 family tuition savings account program to those students.
Immigrants and their families have been a vital part of our state and national economy for centuries.  Immigrant labor has always been a critical part of our nation’s future and that remains true today.  Now, more than ever, getting a college education is key to every individual’s economic future, and it is time we ensure this opportunity is available to this vital segment of the population.
Currently, the door to a quality education is abruptly slammed shut on thousands of New York’s students once they complete high school.  The only basis for this is the fact that their parents chose to bring them to the United States as children without documented status.
This legislation will provide access to higher education for thousands of New Yorkers.  Considering the current federal immigration debate and imminent reform, now is the time to pass this legislation to ensure that New York can continue as a leader in embracing such a vital component of our economy and society.
Keep an Eye On

Safe Patient Handling Conference
-April 24-25th, Hotel Albany, Albany, NY

For further information contact Mike Neidl at 518-436-8516 or by email information@nysaflcio.org