Elected Officials, Advocates Demand State Senate Return to Albany Immediately to Vote on Reproductive Health Act and Speed Camera Bill


July 2018

New York, NY- Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Borough President Gale Brewer and advocates Transportation Alternatives, Planned Parenthood demand Senate Majority Leader Flanagan call the State Senate back to Albany immediately to vote on the Reproductive Health Act (A.1748/S.2796) and Speed Camera Bill (A.7798C/S.6046C). The Senate’s inaction jeopardizes the health and safety of all New Yorkers.
“The State Senate has callously turned their back on the women and children of New York. New Yorkers cannot be safe without control over their own bodies or the knowledge that they can walk to school safely,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. “It’s time to stop playing political games with the lives of innocent New Yorkers. Senate Majority Leader Flanagan must call the Senate back immediately and vote on the Reproductive Health Act and the Speed Camera Bill.”
 “The State Senate must return to Albany and get back to work to immediately address these critical issues and protect the health and safety of New York women and children,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “With the looming threat of Donald Trump’s extremist Supreme Court nominee, we must protect women’s right to choose by passing the Reproductive Health Act. There is no doubt that Trump is determined to end Roe v. Wade. Here in New York we must fight back and resist. The stakes are too high for the Senate to continue to ignore this critical issue of women’s health. Between the RHA and speed cameras, the Senate must stop playing politics with people’s lives and act quickly before it’s too late.”
“State legislators are sent to Albany to take care of the people’s business, but we left town with that business unfinished, and the freedom, health, and safety of New Yorkers in jeopardy. With an extremist headed to the Supreme Court, it is vital that we finally pass the Reproductive Health Act; and with the city’s life-saving school speed camera program set to expire, we must extend and enhance it before our children pay the price. John Flanagan and the Republican leadership are the only ones who can call us back to Albany and put these bills to a vote. Enough excuses – it’s time to finish the job,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, Senate Sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act.
“For decades, the State Senate has vetoed policies that are crucial for New York State’s women and everyone who lives here, in New York’s largest city. New York City shouldn’t need the State Senate’s permission to protect its children on our streets, and New York State’s women shouldn’t need the State Senate’s permission to make their own choices and get the reproductive healthcare they need, including safe access to abortion,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Without these bills, our city’s kids will be at risk and New York’s women will be at risk. Senate Republicans must get out of the way.”
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT (A.1748/S.2796) Following President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, federal protections for access to safe and legal abortion are in even greater jeopardy. Without Roe, State laws will determine whether or not you can get an abortion. New York’s law is broken and outdated as it pre-dates the Roe v. Wade decision. The Reproductive Health Act would fix New York’s law by decriminalizing abortion and removing current restrictions that force patients to carry unhealthy pregnancies or leave the state for care. 
Specifically, the Reproductive Health Act would: move abortion out of criminal code and into health code where it belongs, so that providers are free to provide services; ensure that the health of the pregnant person, not just their life, is a factor for access to abortion later in pregnancy; protect a patient from being forced to carry a non-viable pregnancy to term; confirm that all medical professionals licensed to provide abortions are able to do so within their scope of practice. New Yorkers are already at risk without these protections.
The Assembly has passed protections for abortion access every year since 2013. The State Senate has never taken a vote.
“It’s morally repugnant of the State Senate for leaving Albany without action on the School Safety Camera Bill or Reproductive Health Act. Lives are at stake. I’m extremely proud of my colleague Deborah Glick for passing these important bills in the Assembly and proudly join her in calling on the Senate to do the same before it’s too late,” said Senator Brad Hoylman
“When the Senate adjourned last month, many critical issues were left unaddressed by the Republican majority, including these two critical bills that the Assembly passed under Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s leadership — extending and expanding lifesaving speed cameras in New York City and codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh said. “My Senate Democratic colleagues and I urged Senate Republicans to take up each of these bills earlier in the legislative session, and I’m glad to join Assemblymember Glick to do so again today.”
Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts said, “Our future hinges on the New York State Senate’s ability to stand up for our right to safe, legal abortion today. Over 40 years ago the Senate’s Republican leadership realized that our health care transcended politics when they ensured New Yorkers’ access to safe, legal abortion. Now the Senate must stand up again and join the New York State Assembly to protect our health care and rights. We thank Assemblymember Deborah Glick for her unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of all New Yorkers and the members of the New York State Assembly, led by Speaker Heastie, for their work to ensure a better future for our state.” 
“New Yorkers have waited for more than forty years for the legislature to update our abortion laws. Now, with President Trump poised to reshape the Supreme Court, New Yorkers cannot wait any longer. We urge the New York State Senate to return to Albany to vote on the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) to update our archaic law and decriminalize abortion.”  Andrea Miller, President, National Institute for Reproductive Health
Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Donna Lieberman said, “Armed with a Supreme Court vacancy, the Trump regime is poised to pack the court in an effort to undo Roe v. Wade and curtail abortion to an extent not seen since 1973. New York can no longer put off fixing our state’s broken abortion law. The Reproductive Health Act would take abortion out of the criminal code so that New York can be a safe-haven where women and their health are valued and protected. That means codifying Roe and ensuring access to the information and services that women — including pregnant women — need to protect their health.”
“I had to travel from Brooklyn to Colorado for an abortion at 32 weeks because I chose to end a nonviable pregnancy. It was a painful experience made much worse by New York’s cruel and unconstitutional abortion law. It’s important to remember that there are real people, real stories, behind our fight for abortion law reform in this state.” Erika A. Christensen, patient advocate and co-founder of RHAvote.com
Laura McQuade, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City said, “Planned Parenthood of New York City stands with Assembly Member Deborah Glick and joins her call for the New York State Senate to return to session and pass the Reproductive Health Act to protect New Yorkers and our sexual and reproductive freedom. President Trump promised to only nominate Supreme Court justices who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, and we take him at his word.
With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the stakes could not be higher. New York needs to step up right now, before it’s too late. New York’s abortion law has not been updated since 1970 and does not provide robust protection to abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Yet, the Reproductive Health Act has been blocked by the anti-sexual and reproductive health majority in the State Senate for nearly a decade. The State Senate must put politics aside and do their jobs, or our access to abortion will be at risk like never before.”
“Republicans in the State Senate failed the people of New York before heading home for the year and I am proud to stand with Assemblymember Glick to remind them that they still have work to do on matters that are literally life and death. The Senate should stop playing politics with kids’ lives and extend and expand New York City’s speed camera program. In addition, they should pass the Reproductive Health Act immediately to fix New York’s wildly outdated laws on a woman’s right to choose, especially with the looming threat of the Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade. These are vital issues that shouldn’t wait until after vacation for Republican Senators,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson
“The passage of the Reproductive Health Act, codifying the rights set out in Roe v. Wade, is long past due. The National Council of Jewish Women New York strongly supports all women’s right to choose, and will continue to stand with our partners in the fight for reproductive rights for all. New York must build on its history of leadership and act to protect a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion. Now more than ever, those rights are in jeopardy and we implore the New York State Senate Majority Leader Flanagan to bring the Senate back into session for a vote on the Reproductive Health Act,” said Andrea Salwen Kopel, Executive Director of National Council of Jewish Women New York.
“New York is a prochoice city, inhabited by law abiding women who should not be declined the health care they need. Yet we are saddled with an archaic state law that limits our access to health services and assigns women’s reproductive health to the penal code. Women’s autonomy is not a crime. Family planning is not a crime. It’s a right, one that is denied to too many women. So Senate, pay attention. We are growing. And we are voting. Senator Flanagan, call your members back and vote on the Speed Camera Bill and the RHA immediately. Let’s right this wrong,” said Eugenia Bone, co-founder of Downtown Women for Change.
New York City currently operates a school zone speed camera program, but without Senate action, every school speed camera in New York City will be deactivated after July 25th. The program has reduced speeding by 63%[1]. The Speed Camera Safety Bill before the Senate would expand the number of speed cameras allowed in New York City’s school zones by 50 cameras each year for the next three years, and allow placement of cameras to catch the most reckless of speeding drivers.
In defiance of strong bipartisan support from a large coalition of elected officials, advocates, faith leaders, and law enforcement officials, the Senate failed to pass the bill to reauthorize and expand this life-saving program.
“We need streets free from the carnage wrought by speeding drivers, and we need our schools’ streets to be safe spaces. An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers agree, including seniors and car owners: speed safety cameras save lives and the City’s program must be renewed and expanded. The Senate must reconvene, vote on this popular life-saving speed camera bill by July 25th, and protect their constituents as they’ve sworn to do,” said Marco Conner, Legislative and Legal Director, Transportation Alternatives.
“The Senate’s failure to pass the speed safety camera bill is a dereliction of duty. They are putting the lives of schoolchildren at risk. It’s unconscionable, but it’s not too late to fix it. The Senate needs to go back to Albany and get the job done,” said Judy Kottick, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets.
“The Senate Republicans need to return to Albany and do the work they have been elected to do – protect New Yorkers. They need to pass legislation to keep existing speed cameras up and running around New York City public schools, to keep our children safe.  They must also pass the Reproductive Health Act to protect New York women and families from a potential Supreme Court roll back of the constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.” Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
“As a profession that supports self-determination and the worth and dignity of the person, the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (A.1748/S.2796) and Speed Camera Bill (A.7798C/S.6046C) would support women, children and families; key constituents served by city social workers,” said Ben Sher, President, NASW-NYC Board of Directors. “The New York Senate must return to Albany to support the fundamental human right to choose within the Reproductive Health Act and inherent need to keep New York’s children safe through maintaining and expanding access to speed cameras in city school zones. As social workers, we are pleased that we have active and dedicated leaders like Assemblymember Glick ready to stand up and fight for family rights.”
Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said, “By staying silent on these two essential pieces of common sense legislation, Senate Republicans are speaking volumes about their priorities: these legislators elected to go on vacation instead of doing their jobs and protecting women and children––they’re failing children with harmful policies and threatening a woman’s right to seek potentially life-saving healthcare. New Yorkers need Majority Leader Flanagan to lead: call a special session now and let’s save schoolchildren’s lives with speed cameras and protect women’s right to choose with a statutory right to abortion. What’s the hold up?”
This is a no brainer, we are talking about the safety of pedestrians, especially children traveling to and from school. This will make the job of the School Crossing Guards so much easier with the speed cameras. It is totally unacceptable to allow the cameras to be turned off. Let’s aggressively put into motion Vision Zero of which the Mayor campaigned on. Let’s be responsible about the decisions that are made. Always Remember…Safety First,” said Shaun D. Francois I, President, Local 372 School Crossing Guards Union.
“These two pieces of legislation, which would protect the lives and rights of New Yorkers, should have been passed years ago. But Majority Leader Flanagan and his Republican colleagues would rather bend to the will of Conservative donors in Washington instead of listening to the voices of New Yorkers who simply want basic health and safety,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “The people of this state are paying attention, and if Republicans don’t start changing their tune, they’re going to regret it come November,” said Councilmember Carlina Rivera.
  ### Both of these bills are sponsored by Assembly Deborah Glick and have passed the Assembly. Senate Majority Leader Flanagan can call his members back at any time to have them vote on these bills.
[1] https://www.transalt.org/news/releases/10825