Press Releases

City Bar Calls on New York State Senate to Seize Opportunity to Pass Stalled Reforms When Session Reconvenes

Urges Swift Action on Voting Reforms, the Reproductive Health Act and GENDA

In the wake of yesterday’s election, the New York City Bar Association wrote to New York State Senators urging swift action on a number of issues that are in a unique position to be enacted when the legislative session reconvenes in January. The City Bar, in a letter sent by City Bar President Roger Juan Maldonado, highlighted these issues as strong candidates for early passage because they have enjoyed longstanding support from the Assembly, a majority of Senate Democratic Conference members and the public. While these issues do not reflect the full breadth of priorities the City Bar will be presenting to the Legislature for consideration in the coming months, the City Bar urges the Senate to seize upon this opportunity for reform and swiftly address the following:

  • Voting Reforms. The urgent need for voting reforms was on full display across New York City on Election Day as we saw voters struggling with long lines, broken scanners and general confusion. Voter participation in New York has declined dramatically over the past half century and now stands near the bottom as compared to other states. And when New Yorkers do try to access the polls as they did yesterday, they are all too often facing obstacles to actually voting. New York must take action to ease access and ensure its citizens have the opportunity to fully participate in the democratic process. While the City Bar supports a broad range of voting and election reforms, we urge swift action on three items that have already passed the Assembly and have received some bipartisan support: (1) early voting (S.7400-A Sen. Kavanagh); (2) “no excuse” absentee voting (S.840 Sen. Comrie); and (3) and a single primary day (S.3562-A Sen. Stewart-Cousins).
  • Reproductive Health Act (S.2796 Sen. Krueger). New York should enact legislation that will uphold the principles of individual liberty and privacy enunciated in Roe v. Wade. New York’s law regarding abortion has not been substantially changed since 1970, and is now outdated and inadequate. New Yorkers should feel secure that they will be able to get the health care they need within our state’s borders throughout pregnancy and that no one should be vulnerable to arrest and criminal charges for deciding to end their own pregnancy.  New York’s reproductive health law should be strengthened and updated so it can stand on its own right.
  • Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) (S.7010 Sen. Hoylman). New York’s Human Rights Law does not explicitly and adequately protect individuals who are discriminated against because of their actual or perceived gender identity or expression, such as transgender and gender nonconforming people. While Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order directing the State Division on Human Rights to issue regulations interpreting the Human Rights Law as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, the regulations may be vulnerable to judicial interpretation and are subject to rescission by future governors. GENDA remains a key step in protecting transgender and gender non-conforming people in their employment and housing, and protecting their safety, so that they can enjoy the financial and social stability necessary to become fully integrated and productive members of their communities.

“We are looking forward to next session and the many issues that will now be up for discussion and debate; and the City Bar’s full legislative agenda is forthcoming” said the City Bar’s Advocacy Director Elizabeth Kocienda. “Based on election results, though, we’ve identified these issues as ones that are ripe for passage right away, given longstanding passage in the Assembly and support by the Senate Democratic Conference. We are pleased to reiterate our support for voting reforms, the Reproductive Health Act, and GENDA.”

To read the City Bar’s letter, visit:

The City Bar’s full 2019 New York State Legislative Agenda is forthcoming.


About the Association
The mission of the New York City Bar Association, which was founded in 1870 and has 24,000 members, is to equip and mobilize the legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world.