Groundbreaking Legislation Passed in New York

Over the past week, the Senate passed multiple pieces of significant legislation that will impact the lives of many. If you have not yet heard about this groundbreaking legislation, read on to learn if it will affect you personally, in any way.

On June 17, the house passed legislation approving the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY). With the passing of this legislation, the right to obtain a license, regardless of immigration status, is restored.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Today, we passed legislation restoring the right for all qualified drivers to obtain drivers’ licenses regardless of immigration status. By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer. This is the right step forward for New York State as we continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level.”

On June 19, the Senate Majority passed legislation to prevent wage discrimination. This legislation demands equal pay for all and non-biased compensation for protected classes. It also bans salary history inquiries, and it guarantees equal pay for public employees.

Of the legislation passing, Senator Brian Benjamin recalled, “When my mother came to this country seeking a better life for her future family, it was a union job in public service that gave her that opportunity. That opportunity put her on equal footing with her peers, and though the way was not always easy, she was able to build a solid life for my siblings and I. I want every New Yorker, regardless of gender, color, creed, orientation, or place of origin to have the opportunity she did, and so I am proud to be the sponsor of a bill to affirm those rights for civil service employees, and give them recourse when those rights are violated.”

Also on June 19, the Senate passed legislation updating New York’s sexual harassment laws. This was applauded by many, and marked the first time the Senate Majority held hearings on sexual harassment in the workplace for the first time in 27 years.

Lastly, on June 20, the Senate passed two more pieces of legislation. The first is the decriminalization of marijuana in New York state. While the use of marijuana was not fully legalized, as originally intended, the penalty was reduced to a $50 fine, regardless of criminal history for possession under one ounce, and a $200 fine, regardless of criminal history for possession between one and two ounces. Those who have been previously charged with marijuana-related convictions in the state will have their records expunged automatically.

The Senate also passed legislation Thursday demanding state prisons sharply cut back on the use of solitary confinement. The deal would also prohibit putting “vulnerable” prisoners in solitary confinement. Prisoners who are adolescents, pregnant, or disabled are all prohibited from entering solitary confinement. Originally, the Senate tried to pass legislation that would make it illegal to  hold an inmate in solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days.