As far as electoral politics goes, New York is solidly in the “blue” category along with California, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
But even though it predictably swings Democratic, since 2010 its legislature has been frustratingly bifurcated, comprised of a Democratic Assembly and Republican Senate.
That was until the 2018 mid-term election.
In a stunning sweep, Democrats now maintain complete control of New York State government.
And they are wasting no time playing catch-up.
First on the list is voting.
Although New York is not in the same league, its voting and voter registration regulations are some of the nation’s most restrictive, leading to some of the lowest voter turnouts.
If the recent series of election and voting reform measures pass, New York voters will be permitted to register and vote the same day; they will also not be compelled to provide reasons for voting via absentee ballot. State and federal primaries, currently months apart, will be held the same day.
About this, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, stated:
“Easing access to voting and having New Yorkers exercise their Constitutional right to have their voices heard shouldn’t be partisan or controversial. Other states have taken the lead on issues like early voting, same-day registration, pre-registration, and no-excuse absentee voting. It is time for New York State to catch up, so we can once again lead the way forward.”
Another positive reform has to do with new protections for LGBTQ New Yorkers.
Under the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), transgender New Yorkers will no longer be excluded from the state’s Hate Crimes Law. No longer will mental health professionals be permitted to engage in sexual orientation conversion therapy with a patient under 18.
Sen. Stewart-Cousins said:
“One of my proudest moments as a Senator was when we passed the Marriage Equality Act. But that was eight years ago now, and since then the former Senate Republican Majority refused to pass any real protections for the LGBTQ community. Now, under the Democratic Majority, this Senate chamber is affirming that we stand with our LGBTQ community. I commend [sponsor] Senator [Brad] Hoylman for his leadership on these bills and this important issue. I am proud that the Senate Majority has passed these historic bills, and we will continue to move ahead with our ambitious, progressive agenda.”
They’re taking on campaign finance too.
Lawmakers voted to close the “LLC loophole,” which allowed donors to create multiple corporations for the purpose of showering political candidates with unlimited sums of campaign cash.
Marijuana legalization, extending child sex abuse victims’ lawsuit statute of limitations, ending cash bail, revamping rent regulations, codifying Roe vs. Wade state law, and granting drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants, are all initiatives the new Democratic majority plans to address.
Some critics argue Cuomo is more comfortable with a divided government because it enables him to fulfill his natural inclination of working from the ideological center.
Perhaps this is the case.
New York Democrats are not stuck in the bipartisan gridlock anymore, so there are no more excuses for failing to enact the bold, progressive policies the state sorely needs.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons